Holiday weekend outlook

May 24, 2017: Memorial Day Weekend is approaching fast, and of course, there’s a little rain in the forecast. The details are still being fleshed out, but plan on occasional rain showers this weekend.

Outlook for the holiday weekend (valid May 24, 2017)

The rain chances start with a round of potential showers starting late Friday morning. Here is an example on Futuretack on how one model looks for the weekend:

GFS model valid May 24, 2017 for Friday. Situation may change closer to Friday.

There is some disagreement among the models about whether the rain will hit or miss us; most of the models are agreeing on a dry Friday evening, which bodes well for travelers and City Market go-er’s alike.

GFS model valid May 24, 2017 for Saturday. Situation may change closer to Saturday.

Saturday, for now, looks dry for much of the day, but a round of heavy showers and storms is possible for Saturday evening. Again, the picture will get clearer on if and when the storms hit the area, but have a back-up plan or a dry location in mind for Saturday evening, just in case.

GFS model valid May 24, 2017 for Monday. Situation may change closer to Monday.

Sunday is looking dry for now, then there are low chances for scattered rainfall on Memorial Day as temperatures cool off. We’ll be in the middle 70’s for much of the weekend, then dropping to the upper 60’s on Monday.  We’ll have updates as the forecast evolves throughout the week!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 24, 2017

A few funnel clouds popped up today

May 23, 2017: If you were lucky, you may have seen an interesting (and at times, a scary looking) weather phenomenon today amidst the rain showers and cloudy weather. The atmosphere was set up for cold air funnel clouds, which have the appearance of a normal funnel cloud we seen during severe weather. These funnels, however, are usually harmless.

Here’s the environment necessary to get the cold air funnels: there needs to be a layer of shallow, cold air in place- this usually happens behind a cold front, like we had move through today. As the shallow cold air mixes with the air above it, if you can get winds moving at different directions as you rise through the atmosphere, you can get a weak rotation going. This rotation forms a weak funnel cloud, high up in the clouds.

Because the rotation is high in the clouds, it rarely reaches the ground. However, if you ever see a funnel cloud reaching toward the ground, head to shelter quickly.



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 23, 2017

Summer 2017 Outlook

May 22, 2017: Now that there’s less than 10 days left in May, let’s look ahead to the summer! Meteorological summer starts up June 1, with the official start of summer on June 20.

The current outlook by the Climate Prediction Center shows that we could be in for a warmer summer than usual. Most of the Midwest looks to be at least a little above average, unless you visit Minnesota, western Wisconsin, or Iowa.

That means we may get many more days in the middle to upper 80’s, if not the 90’s. For reference, Rockford usually sees 15 days in the 90’s each year, on average. The last 3 summer have been below that mark, though 2015 and 2016 only missed by a few days. Nighttime temperatures may be closer to 70 degrees than they usually are. Fans of a hot summer may get their wish, but this also means higher energy bills as we may be running our A/C or fans more often.

Does this mean we’ll have a blazing hot summer? Likely not. We may see see a few more high 80° to 90° days than we usually do. The chances for a blazing hot summer increase the farther east you go, where the East Coast may be looking at a potential scorcher.

The Climate Prediction Center is also showing a near average summer for rainfall, which is around 13″ for rain in Rockford. We’ve already had more rain than that this spring, with a few more rainy days to go. If we jump into the 14″ range or higher, this will easily go down as one of the top 10 wettest springs on record.



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 22, 2017

Weekend Storm Chances

May 19, 2017: Here comes more active weather as we kick off the weekend. For the most part, we’ll see regular showers and thunderstorms. There is a chance for a one or two stronger storms into the afternoon, however.

The active weather is set up by a warm front pushing into the Stateline. Look how temperatures rebound from the upper 40’s on Friday to the low 70’s in a few spots on Saturday.

          Forecast temperatures for Saturday

Most of the morning round of showers and storms moves in between 7 am and 12 pm. We may get a few downpours from time to time, but severe weather should stay away during the early hours.

        Futuretrack model for Saturday morning

Into the afternoon, there is a low risk for severe weather. This risk is on the lowest end of the scale, but still leaves us with a chance for one or two strong to severe storms.

         Severe outlook for Saturday afternoon

This is dependent on what the morning showers and storms do. If they linger enough into the afternoon or keep cloud cover around, we should avoid severe weather. Clearing or some sunshine could energize the atmosphere enough to create strong storms. The higher severe risk looks to be mostly southeast of us, however.

       Futuretrack model for Saturday afternoon

Even if we don’t see severe weather, storms and showers may persist on-and-off around our area.

Drier weather is coming for Sunday, which is a good sight to see!




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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 19, 2017

More severe weather possible Wednesday

May 16, 2017: Active weather Monday evening kicked off the week, with more on the way for the middle of the week. We are currently at a “2” on our Threattrack scale for Wednesday evening. We aren’t expecting widespread severe storms, but there may be a few stronger to severe storms tomorrow. Most of Wisconsin, Iowa, and western and northern Illinois are under the low risk for severe weather tomorrow.

            Wednesday severe storm risk area

As for timing, watch for a few scattered, hit-and-miss showers and storms in the middle to late morning hours, with a mainly dry afternoon. This is followed by an active evening where we could see more widespread storms. This evening round looks to be the one to focus on for severe weather.

     Futuretrack model for Wednesday afternoon

Like on Monday, damaging winds and large hail look to be the main threats, followed by a lot of lightning.

     Risks for Wednesday afternoon and evening

Have your weather radios ready to go, and download the 13 Weather Authority app when you get the chance. The app not only provides severe weather alerts but you can see right where the storms are in your neighborhood using the interactive radar.




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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 16, 2017

May frost

May 5, 2017: Things are getting chilly again Saturday night, but don’t worry: this is normal for early May. We typically picture the warm part of spring finally arriving and staying around, but early May can bring several cold nights before they disappear for a while.

May 9th is our average last night of spring frost for the season in Rockford, so we are getting closer to our usual last night of icy weather. We already saw a frosty night this week, with May 3rd getting down to 33°, with a few places like Freeport dropping below freezing.

On average, we get 3 nights of frost- nights at or below 36°. Remember, the air temperature is measured several feet off of the ground, so the air keeps cooling all the way down to the surface, giving us 32° or colder at the grass or plant level. The most nights with frost in May on record was May 1917, when we had 13 nights at or below 36°. That’s almost half the month! Not too many years before that, we had the latest spring frost on record on June 9, 1913.

On top of frosty weather, we average one night at or below freezing each May. We got close earlier this week as mentioned earlier.

Soon, we’ll be getting away from flirting with the 30’s. While the nights will still be cold, once we are beyond the first 3rd of May we can rest a little easier knowing our plants may be ok for the rest of the spring.




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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 5, 2017

Lots of May Flowers Ahead?

May 1, 2017: If April showers truly do bring May flowers, we may not be able to see anything but flowers on the ground!

April 2017 will enter the record books as the 5th rainiest April on record. Rockford would’ve had to see another 3″ of rain to beat out the top spot on record (9.92″ in 1973). Still, over 7″ of rain isn’t anything to laugh at; that value is over double the amount of rain seen during an average April. In fact, last week had almost the same amount of rain as an average April. Impressive!

All of this excess rain is causing some flooding issues. The Rock River through Ogle and Lee counties, plus the Kishwaukee River near Belvidere and Cherry Valley will be running extra high for the rest of the week. While flooding isn’t likely on these rivers, the high waters can have some local impacts, so keep an eye on the conditions if you leave near the river. The rivers rose by nearly 3 feet over the weekend after 2″ fell between Saturday and Sunday.

What’s ahead for May? The Climate Prediction Center shows equal chances for dry or wet weather for our area (a.k.a. near average, for now). Iowa has a good chance to be drier than usual, so some of that may bleed over into our neck of the woods. The CPC has in their short term forecast drier than average weather though the middle of the month. This forecast, if it pans out, may come at a good time, giving us a break from the wet weather for a while. May averages a hair over 4″ of rain for the month, or a touch wetter than April usually is.

The CPC also has cooler than average weather for us over this month, so the cool portion of the cool, rainy pattern we’ve been in may not go away for a while. This doesn’t mean the 40’s and 50’s like we saw for a lot of the end of April, but the weather may not get into the 70’s or warmer as often as temperatures usually do around this time of year.



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 1, 2017

April Showers

April 17, 2017: Whether we want it or not, more rain is in the forecast. This month hasn’t been terribly soggy yet, but Saturday night’s soaking storms has made the area feel a little waterlogged.

Overall, Rockford is above average for rainfall this month, and will end the month there even if we weren’t getting any more rain. However, there are a few more chances coming this week, at the very least. This month, so far, hasn’t rivaled the top spots yet. The rainiest April on record occurred in 1973 with nearly 10″ of rain. Wow!

The next few chances for rain pop up between Tuesday night and Thursday morning.

Tuesday’s weather system is leaving Montana and heading our way. It looks to drag a cold front through, but not much for shower activity is expected.

Wednesday into Wednesday night may get more interesting. Since that weather system is still over the Pacific, details will still need to be hammered out once it gets onshore and we get better data on it. Right now, that storm system looks to bring possibly heavy rainfall into the Midwest, in addition to showers and thunderstorms. Where exactly between southern Wisconsin and northern to central Illinois is still to be determined. There is a low risk for severe weather for that time period, so keep an eye on the forecast heading into the middle of the week!




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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on April 17, 2017

When does spring frost finally end?

April 14, 2017: If you’re getting your garden ready for the spring, you are probably aware that frost may still be an issue for a while. How much longer until it won’t? The short answer: we have a few weeks, if this is an average year.

The last freeze of the season usually doesn’t come until the end of this month, so be ready for a freeze, just in case. We can see the last freeze come as early as the beginning of this month, so there’s a chance we may be done with freezing weather until fall, but that’s not likely yet.

Once we get past the last freeze, the last round of frost comes a few weeks later. That typically doesn’t wrap up until the middle of May, but again, it can come pretty early.

Check out the latest spring frosts and freezes on record. Can you imagine still getting freezing weather as late as June?! Yikes! Or rather, brrrr!

What will happen this spring? We’ve had warmer than average weather for a while, and that doesn’t look to stop anytime soon. I would think the last freeze and last frost of the spring may come early this year, but I don’t think either will be record breaking. Best advice? Plan ahead for a few more frosty nights just in case.



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on April 14, 2017

Soggy outlook

April 12, 2017: There wouldn’t be the phrase “April showers bring May flowers” if it weren’t somewhat true! Barely 2 weeks into April, and we are already nearly 3/4″ above average in Rockford for rainfall, with more on the way over the rest of the week.


Futuretrack valid April 12, 2017, forecast for Thursday morning

The first round arrives overnight with mainly light rain showers, yet there could be a few moderate to heavier showers in play by Thursday morning. The rain should mostly dry up by the end of Thursday morning, though occasional sprinkles are possible between Thursday night and Friday morning.

Futuretrack valid April 12, 2017, forecast for Friday evening

Our second chance for rain comes Friday evening. Scattered thunderstorms are possible throughout the evening and overnight Friday night. These will be hit-or-miss, so some locations may get more rain than others.

Futuretrack valid April 12, 2017, forecast for Saturday night

Finally, most of Saturday looks dry, yet a line of showers and thunderstorms looks to brew up Saturday night. The rain should be gone by Easter Sunday morning, but keep the overnight rain in mind if you are planning on an Easter picnic (i.e. the lawns and parks may be a little wet Sunday morning).

Futuretrack valid April 12, 2017, rainfall forecast through Sunday morning

Another 1″ of rain is possible between these 3 rounds of rainfall through Saturday night. That will add to our impressive totals this month, where we are already 1″ above average for the Spring. While all of this rain may not line up well with our day-to-day plans, here’s a silver lining: our lawns and gardens will be staying green and happy!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on April 12, 2017