Friday, November 30, 2012

Unseasonably Warm to Start off December

It will be partly cloudy overnight with areas of fog developing. Temperatures will be nearly steady in the middle 30's, and the wind will be a gentle east to northeast around 6 mph. It will be cloudy on Saturday with areas of fog and drizzle in the morning. Showers are possible in the afternoon, and it will be mild for December 1st with an afternoon high around 54 degrees.  The average high in Rockford on December 1st is 39 degrees.  Showers will be likely on Saturday evening, but rainfall amounts are expected to be light.  A few of those showers may linger past midnight.  A cool front across Minnesota and South Dakota will make a run at our area overnight, but is expected to come up short, and remain just to our northwest by daybreak on Sunday.  That will make for an exceptionally mild night on Saturday night.  The overnight low is anticipated to be around 50 degrees.  The average low is 24 degrees, so, the low temperature for the day will be around 26 above average.  The front may just settle as far south as Rockford during the day on Sunday capping our expected high just below 60 degrees.  On Monday an intensifying storm system will be spinning just north of North Dakota in southern Canada.  The pressure gradient around this system will be tight leading to very windy conditions over a large area of the mid west and the northern plains. The Stateline will be on the eastern side of this system at 6 am on Monday morning.  A warm front will be pushing northward from northern Illinois into southern Wisconsin.  Air from the Gulf of Mexico will flow across the area during the day making for an unseasonably warm day for December 3rd.  The high will be around 62, and there is potential that the temperature will go even higher with southwesterly winds 20 to 30 mph with higher gusts.  It will be mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers lasting into Monday night.  Passage of the cold front overnight will bring an end to the showers, and usher cooler temperatures back into the area.  It will be mostly sunny, breezy, and cooler on Tuesday with a high around 47 degrees.  Just as a matter of interest, despite a big cool down, that 47 degree reading is still about 10 degrees above average for December 4th.  The cool down will continue, though, on Wednesday when the overnight low will be back down in the upper 20's, and the high temperature will be around 41 degrees.  That will be the result of a small high traversing southern Canada tapping a little Canadian air. It will not last long, however, with the high moving rapidly eastward to Pennsylvania by early Thursday morning.  A southerly wind will develop, and afternoon temperatures will recover into the middle 40's with  a chance of showers.  More Canadian fronts will move into the area on Friday.  There will be a good chance of showers, and it will be cooler with a high only around 40 degrees.

Update on the drought and lack of snowfall so far this year

As many records feel over the summer months it looks like we may be nearing another as we edge closer and closer to December.  There have been a few days where flurries or even light snow has fallen but other than just giving it a holiday feel we really haven't dealt with much measurable snow.  Meteorologist Brandon Arnold posted Tuesday that we were nearing the top 5 for the longest stretch without measurable snowfall.  Well, today we made it to day 271 without measurable snow; measurable snow meaning over a tenth of an inch.  Usually around this time there has been something we've had to shovel, or at least dust off, our doorstep.  This puts this year in the top 4!  The longest stretch on record was back in 1922 with 287 days without measurable snowfall. 

Unfortunately, the pattern through midweek of next week looks to keep any precipitation in the liquid form but that pattern may begin to change during the second week of December.  There has been some fairly cold air in Alaska and northern Canada that we really haven't tapped into and with a pattern change we may be able to pull at least some of that down across the northern tier of the United States.  With the lack of any rainfall, or snowfall, the latest issuance of the drought monitor indicates conditions have either stayed the same from the previous week or have slightly worsened.  Going into the winter season it's never good to have as significant of a deficit as we currently do.  The extreme heat and drought over the summer really took out a lot of the moisture in the first several inches of soil.  Snowfall is vital come springtime and if the snow doesn't add up it may only help to worsen the drought.  It has yet to been seen just how the current drought will affect temperatures and precipitation going into December, January and February and it's kind of hard to say now whether this winter will end up warm and dry like years past.  With ENSO neutral conditions having develop over the past month this winter could go either way. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Big Warmup Sunday and Monday

It will be mostly cloudy tonight with areas of patchy fog developing toward dawn. The low will be around 34 degrees with a light southeast wind. On Friday there will be some early morning patchy fog. Then, it will be partly cloudy with a high around 47 degrees. On Friday night fog will re-develop in the evening and become dense before midnight continuing through the overnight. The low will be around 33 degrees with light easterly winds. High pressure easing across southern Canada just to the north of the Great Lakes will nudge a cold front southward through the area later tonight, and the front will become stationary east/west near Interstate 80 to our south through Friday.  That is the reason for the temporary trend toward cooler daytime temperatures on Friday.  However, on Saturday morning, the front will lift northward across the area and off top the northeast.  With increasing amounts of moisture in the lowest levels of the atmosphere, there will be fog development again on Friday night that will become dense by midnight.  That thick fog will likely persist into at least the mid morning hours on Saturday. Gulf moisture will be feeding across the Stateline on Saturday. It will be breezy and warmer with some drizzle and light rain showers. The high on Saturday is expected to be around 54 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.  It will be mostly sunny, breezy and  very mild on Sunday with a high near 60 degrees. It will be windy and unseasonably mild on Monday with a southwesterly wind at 20 to 30 mph.  The high temperature will be near 62 degrees.  There will be some rain showers of Monday, and there could even be an isolated thunderstorm on Monday night with the approach of a strong cold front from the west.  It will be mostly sunny, breezy, and cooler on Tuesday with a high temperature in the middle 40's.  Wednesday is expected to be the coldest day of the week.  High pressure from Canada will cause a chilly northwesterly breeze to blow south across Wisconsin.  The high will be in the middle to upper 30's on Wednesday.  Temperatures are expected to recover back up into the middle 40's  on Thursday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wet and stormy in the west; Mild start to December here

A series of strong storm systems will begin to pound the northwest through the weekend bringing potentially 6" to 12" of rainfall along the coast, heavy snowfall in higher elevations, wind and cold lasting through Sunday.  As a trough, or dip, in the jet stream continues to strengthen a ridge of high pressure will build over the middle of the country.  This will allow unseasonably warm air to lift north into Midwest this weekend.  With the warmth, however, will come the threat for added cloud cover and fog.  Moisture will lift north from the Gulf of Mexico along the western edge of another ridge of high pressure in the southeast.  As this moisture lifts into Illinois and Wisconsin it's possible it may interact with a few frontal boundaries that will lay draped across the Stateline.  Looking at some of our ensemble forecasts through the weekend they do point to a very mild air mass in place by the beginning of next week.  If clouds or fog are not as thick as I anticipate them to be it's likely temperatures Sunday and Monday will top 60° making for a very warm start to December.

The next question: Will we break any record high temperatures this weekend?  The answer to that is...unlikely.  Record highs for Saturday through Monday are in the middle 60's.  Without a substantial amount of sunshine reaching those numbers will be hard to do but if more sunshine peeks through Sunday and Monday it's possible we could get close.  

Tornado in Italy

Video of a tornado in Taranto, Italy. This just proves that severe weather can happen anytime and anywhere.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Where's the Snow?!

If you're a fan of the winter weather, or are just hoping for a White Christmas, this blog post probably isn't for you. Rockford is in the midst of one of its longest snow droughts on record.

Data as of 11/27/12
In this case, "snow drought" means no measurable snow. The last time we saw that in Rockford was on March 4th... 268 days ago as of Tuesday.

The current forecast will put us comfortably in fourth place by week's end. We're expecting a warmup close to 60 degrees by the start of next week, and there are zero chances for snow over the next week. We would break the record is we saw no snow through December 17th. Will that happen? We'll have to wait and see.

Chicago is in the middle of their own snow drought... 268 days without measurable snow is their fourth longest drought on record.

A true arctic air mass

It was a COLD morning Tuesday!  A very dry air mass from northern Canada associated with high pressure settled into the middle of the country causing the mercury to drop into the low teens for most, but down into the single digits for others.  While temperatures this morning were very impressive I found it also impressive as to how low the dew points fell...between 5° and 10°.  This would be the true definition of an arctic air mass.  When you have the cold but also a very dry atmosphere.  Even as of 11 am the atmosphere remains fairly dry which combined with the sunshine today should allow temperatures by this afternoon to rise back into the low to mid 30s.

The last time it was cold was back on February 25th and 26th when the low dropped to 12° and 13°.  The last time it was colder than 11° was on the 11th of February when the low dropped to 8°.  Here's something to ponder on your lunch break...overnight lows this weekend will be warmer than what the high temperature is expected to reach today! 

'Feeling' a change in the weather

Over the weekend I received an email from Amy in Lena, IL wondering how the change in pressure can affect someone who has arthritis.  I'm sure we've all know and have heard someone say they can tell when the weather is going to change because the can feel it in their bones.  While there is no true correlation between the weather and the pain someone who has arthritis feels there are many theories as to how this can actually occur.  One theory, which seems to be the most common, is the fact that already inflamed tissue in the body surrounding the joints can swell even more and cause an increase in arthritis pain when the pressure drops.  It's almost as if the joints in our body are acting as a human barometer.  Just like the atmosphere is in a constant state of trying to balance itself out, the human body is trying to balance the equilibrium in body pressure.

To try and under this a little more and how air pressure tends to affect the pain some people may feel, we first need to look at the definition of air pressure.  Air pressure is the force exerted on any surface by the molecules composing air.  Basically it's the force, or weight, on a particular surface in the atmosphere.  Air molecules are important in this definition because the more air molecules you have above the surface of the earth the more pressure, or force, is exerted down causing the pressure to rise.  Example, think of when you inflate a bike tire or basketball.  The air pump causes the pressure inside the pump and object to rise - causing it to inflate.  Just the opposite can be said when there are fewer air molecules above the surface of the earth.  There is less force exerted towards the surface causing the pressure to decrease.

There have been several studies conducted to try and better understand the relationship, if any, between changing weather and the aches and pains someone may feel.  In many of the studies that were conducted it seemed as if an increase in pain was felt on cold and rainy days or afternoons where the humidity was higher.  These type of weather events typically happen when low pressure is occurring.  Air rises throughout the atmosphere when there is low pressure causing the surrounding air at the surface (which has a higher pressure than the low) to move in to try and replace the air that is lost.  It's that change in pressure that may make people with arthritis a little more sensitive to the surroundings of the atmosphere and cause them to 'feel' the changing weather in their bones. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Warmup On The Way

If you don't like the cold weather, this week hasn't got off to the best start. Highs for Monday were stuck in the low to mid 30s and overnight low are expected to plummet into the teens. But a warmup is on the way, making for a milder start to December.

Highs in the 30s will stick around for a few more days, but by Thursday, temps will be above normal for a nice, long stretch. In fact, December looks to kick off with highs in the 50s.

Temperature Outlook: Dec. 2-6
The Climate Prediction Center has our warmup continuing through the end of next week before a more normal pattern sets back in. Great news for everyone... except you winter weather lovers. Milder temps mean no meaningful snow chances for at least the next two weeks.

Snow misses us to the south but snow to the north keeps us chilly this afternoon

As the jet stream dips south this afternoon the majority of the accumulating snowfall will stay south of the Stateline.  Decreasing cloud cover tonight will set the stage for a very cold night with lows dropping into the teens by dawn Tuesday.

Many locations in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Pennisula of Michigan have almost half a foot of snow on the ground already with a decent amount of Canada already experiencing close to a foot of snow.  Often times this will have an impact on temperatures here in the Stateline.  If winds within in the jet stream are mainly from the north the snow pack will modify that air mass helping to cool it before it reaches southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.  If the jet stream winds are mainly from an area that is lacking any sufficient snow the incoming air mass won't be as cold.  As we get deeper into the winter season and the upstream snow pack continues to grow and deepen the colder snaps tend to be a little more harsh than the low to mid 30s we'll be experiencing this afternoon.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Cold Start to the Week

A cold front passed through the Stateline earlier today. There was not a drop in temperatures immediately following the front, so the afternoon high was able to reach a seasonal high of 42 degrees. Colder air is moving in behind the front tonight in advance of a cold Canadian high moving into North Dakota. It will be partly cloudy ovenight with a low in the low 20's. The wind will be fairly light from the northwest at 5 to 10 mph. On Monday cold air will continue to feed into the area from the northwest all day at 10 to 15 mph. Skies will be partly cloudy  with an afternoon high only around 29 degrees. The average high this time of year is 42 degrees.  The center of the high will reach Sioux City, Iowa by 6 pm Sunday clearing skies for Sunday night, which is expected to be the coldest night so far this season with a low around 14 degrees.  The high pressure ridge will settle slowly southward across the area on Tuesday. Skies will be partly to mostly sunny, and it will continue cold with the high temperature only around 33 degrees. With much of the cold air depleted across southern Canada and the northern plains, the next high moving in from the northwest will not drop temperatures. On the contrary, the high on Wednesday will edge up a few degrees to around 37 degrees under mostly sunny skies. The moderating temperature trend will continue on Thursday, which will start off mostly sunny, but some clouds will develop by afternoon. The high on Thursday will be in the low 40's. A front will slide across the area from the north on Thursday afternoon, and become stationary east west across central Illinois. There will be a slight chance of some light rain mixed with some wet snow flakes on Thursday night, and a chance of showers on Friday.  With the clouds and the threat of rain on Friday temperatures will top out in the low 40's once again.  There is also the possibility of dense fog some time between Thursday night through Saturday morning with the Gulf of Mexico opening up.  The warmer and moist air riding up over the cold ground from the recent cold spell will provide an environment where thick fog could develop. It will be milder on Friday night with a low in the middle 30's under mostly cloudy skies.  It will be warmer on Saturday under mostly cloudy skies.  November wraps up at midnight on Friday night  On December 1st the high will be be near 50 degree with a chance of showers. Sunday looks like it will be even a little warmer with a high in the low 50's under partly cloudy skies.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Not As Cold on Sunday

Saturday has been a cold day across the Stateline with afternoon high temperatures reaching only 34 degrees at the Rockford airport. The cold high pressure is shifting off to the east this evening. Warmer air from the Pacific is sliding across the northern plains into the mid west. Moisture is limited, but widespread cloud cover overnight will keep the temperatures from dropping much. In fact, the overnight low, in the middle 20's, will probably occur this evening along with the chance of a few flurries. Then, temperatures will hold steady, or may even rise a couple of degrees overnight. The next front will sweep across the area around daybreak on Sunday switching the wind to the west and then to the northwest. Despite the frontal passage, the temperature will warm into the low 40's under partly cloudy skies. Temperatures will drop into the middle 20's on Sunday night. Modified Canadian high pressure will make for colder conditions on Monday with a high around 34 degrees. Cold high pressure over western Iowa will make for a very chilly night on Monday night with the temperature dropping as low as the middle teens.  The high will pass across the area on Tuesday.  Skies will  be partly cloudy, and the high will be in the chilly middle 30's again.  High pressure will continue the dry spell for northern Illinois on Wednesday.  Skies will be mostly sunny, and the high will be in the upper 30's.  A little moderation will take place on Thursday with a stationary front temporarily setting up from northern Illinois westward across northern Iowa.  There will be enough moisture convergence that there may be a little light rain, or rain and snow mixed across the Stateline on Thursday night.  It will be mostly cloudy with a high in the low 40's on Thursday and Friday.  On Saturday a southerly wind will develop warming temperatures close to 50 degrees in the afternoon.  A weak disturbance could cause some light rain showers in the afternoon.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes!

A massive ridge of high pressure stretches all the way from central Canada southward across the Dakota's to Texas.  A strong low pressure storm center is located just to the south of James Bay. The pressure gradient between the high and low is what we call "tight" in the weather business. That means that there is a significant change in pressure over a relatively short distance across the earth's surface. It is shown on a weather map with the isobars (lines of equal pressure being drawn fairly close to each other. When a weather map looks like this, it is always an indication of plenty of wind, and we have had lots of wind for the last 24 hours pumping very cold Canadian air into the mid west. Northwesterly winds have been running 20 to 30 mph with higher gusts since last night following frontal passage. As the low pulls away tonight, and the high gets closer, the gradient will relax, and the wind will subside. The high temperature today occurred at midnight, and temperatures fell into the upper 20's this afternoon as the arctic air poured into the mid west. It certainly felt like the middle of winter this afternoon with wind chills in the middle teens. There were some snow flurries in the area today, too. Skies will clear tonight, and the temperature will drop off into the upper teens. The wind will subside to down to 10 to 15 mph from the northwest. On Saturday sunny skies will give way to partly cloudy conditions during the afternoon. It will be cold with a high in the low to middle 30's.  The average high this time of year is 43 degrees.  Another weather system moving across the northern plains along the Canadian border will pull some slightly warmer air into the Stateline on Sunday under partly sunny skies pushing the temperature up into the low 40's.  A cold front following the system will drop temperatures back into the 30's again on Monday.  A storm system is expected to develop over the southern plains.  It's anticipated track appears to be too far south to produce any measureable snow across northern Illinois... but it still needs to be watched on Monday night into early Tuesday.

Still many questions regarding potential snow next week

The possibility of snow early next week is still there but there remains a lot of uncertainty going into the weekend.  The problem with this next storm system are that the models have been very consistent with their track of the low, but each model has had a different track and there seems to be no convergence, just yet, on one solution.  The reason, this storm system is still off the British Columbia coast and isn't expected to move onshore until this weekend.  It likely won't be until Sunday or Sunday night that models begin to come together on a certain track and we'll be able to better pinpoint where exactly snow will fall and where it will remain just plain cold.
The European model, which has been fairly consistent the past several months, has continued with the more southern track taking the low through Missouri and into the northeast.  This would mean a complete miss all together for either rain or snow for us.

The American GFS model, however, continues to bring the low from the panhandle of Oklahoma northeast into Ohio meaning the rain/snow mix line edges closer to the Midwest Monday night into Tuesday.  As I mentioned earlier, until this system moves onshore and we're able to get a better sampling of it with our weather instruments the uncertain track will remain for the next 36 hours.  Friday morning's forecast continued with a chance of rain/snow Monday night and light snow Tuesday of next week. 

Strong winds Friday keep temperatures cold throughout the day

A Wind Advisory has been issued for Stephenson, Jo Daviess, Carroll and Whiteside counties through noon Friday. 

It's hard to believe when you step outside today that temperatures Thanksgiving were in the low 60s.  Now, we've dropped into the upper 20s/low 30s.  Northwest winds sustained around 30-35 mph, with gusts nearing 40 mph, will continue through the morning until high pressure slides into central Illinois.  Temperatures have been dropping since early this morning and will continue to do so without much recovery in the afternoon. 

Wind chills throughout the morning have dropped into the teens and just like the temperature, those chills will remain in the teens into the afternoon.  With a breeze remaining night overnight lows will drop near 20 degrees but wind chills will fall into the single digits in some of the outlying, cooler areas.  Despite sunshine to start the day Saturday it will remain cold with highs in the middle 30s.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Temps Dive Into Black Friday!

Thanksgiving Day 2012 is now in the record books.  It turned out to be one of the mildest on record, but failed to set any records.  The afternoon high temperature in Rockford was 64 degrees.  That is a full 20 degrees above the normal high for the date.  The record high is 69 degrees set in 2010.  I hope you enjoyed the mild temperatures, because a cold front blasted across the area this evening, and temperatures are nosediving.  Arctic high pressure over Canada will continue to buffet the area for the rest of the night, and on Black Friday.  West to northwest winds will blow at 20 to 30 mph on Friday with higher gusts.  There appears to be just enough moisture in the low to mid levels to allow a broken deck of strato-cumulous to spit out a few flurries.  It will definitely feel  like winter with the wind chills down in the upper teens to low 20's, and a few flakes of snow swirling through the air.  High pressure will clear the skies on Friday night, and the temperature will drop to near 20 degrees.  Saturday will be mostly sunny, but it will still be cold with an afternoon high only around 35 degrees.  The temperature will make an attempt to recover on Sunday, but will only reach back toward seasonal levels around 43 degrees.  Monday will be partly sunny and a little cooler with a high in the upper 30's.  On Monday night a low pressure storm system will try to put itself together over the southern plains.  The numerical meteorological models disagree on the solution for the  storm track of this next low.  One takes it northeast up the Ohio River Valley.  If it were to verify, and move just a little to the left of that track, the Stateline could be in for some accumulation snow.  If it travels more easterly from Oklahoma, our region would not get much....  perhaps just some flurries, or no snow at all.  It will remain cold for the remainder of the week following the passage of the low toward the east coast.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The First Warn Weather team would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Clouds will increase this Thanksgiving afternoon ahead of a very strong and dynamic storm system moving across the northern Rockies.  A strong cold front will move through the Great Lakes between 6pm and 7pm with temperatures expected to tumble shortly behind.  With a brisk southerly wind afternoon highs will rise near 60°, or slightly warmer.  Look for a few showers (and maybe a thunderstorm) to develop after 3pm and continue through 9pm until the front passes.  Once the front moves through winds will quickly shift around to the northwest tonight pulling down a very cold air mass from northern Canada.  Temperatures will go from the 60s today down to the low 30s by Friday morning.  This means all you Black Friday shoppers will definitely want to bundle up if you're going out late tonight or very early Friday morning.

Temperatures around 6pm Thursday evening will be in the middle 50s with a southwest breeze.  By 9pm the winds will have shifted and overnight lows will drop into the low 30s by daybreak Friday.  Wind chills will be a big factor Friday with a majority of the day experiencing wind chills in the teens.  After Friday there is no real major warm up as cold air looks to remain in place through the middle of next week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our First Taste Of Winter?

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and if the latest model runs hold true, our first taste of winter weather could fall under the "sooner" category.

European Model - Tuesday Morning
A couple of model runs have a strong area of low pressure passing just to our south next Tuesday. The European model has been pretty reliable as of late and shows the center of low pressure just off to our southeast Tuesday morning.

GFS Model - Tuesday Midday
The GFS model shows a similar path. While the heaviest of the precip with this system would stay closer to the Gulf states, we could easily see some precip of our own.

GFS Model - Freezing Line for Tuesday Midday
Here's where things get interesting. The GFS has the freezing line for this system just off to our south. Everything north of that line has plenty of cold air aloft to support snow. What does that mean for us? In short, a couple inches of the white stuff. That's if the models don't change between now and next week... and that's a BIG if.

Some models show this system staying south. Here's the general rule as we head into next week. The further south the low moves, the less chance we have of seeing anything. The further north the system moves, the messier things could get for us. Stay tuned!

Accumulating snow next week? It's possible!

 For the past several days we've been watching a potential storm system for early next week developing in the Plains and moving through central Illinois and into the Ohio River Valley.  The track with this storm has varied day to day, as it should since it's still over 130 hours away and it will take time for models to resolve, but it's something to pay attention to.  Cold air will settle in after Thanksgiving and remain at least through the beginning of next week.  As the cold air from the north collides with the moist air from the gulf it's possible that somewhere in the Midwest accumulating snow may fall. 
The morning model runs have once again shifted the low further south for next Tuesday leaving any potential precipitation south of the Stateline.  The track will continue to shift back and forth until the storm moves onshore later this weekend.  We'll continue to track this potential storm system because climatologically we won't be that far off from when we would expect our first inch of snow.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday morning fog

Noon Update:  Visibility has begun to improve as of noon and will continue to do so through the afternoon.  Look for afternoon highs in the middle and upper 50s.

Update:  Flight delays continue to climb at O'hare and Midway.  Over 250 delays with many cancellations!  Check out for the latest.

Dense Fog Advisory through noon Wednesday as clear skies overnight and light winds allowed the fog to spread fairly quickly across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Visibility is most locations has been reduced to less than a quarter mile and unfortunately with little air movement this morning the fog will last for the next several hours.  Please use caution when traveling this morning.  If you're traveling by plane today make sure you call ahead to your airline because delays and cancellations have already been reported at O'Hare.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wednesday Travel

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and the weather looks like it will cooperate for a good chuck of the nation in the days leading up to Thursday.

After dense fog Wednesday morning a warm, southerly breeze will begin Wednesday afternoon allowing for near record warmth from Oklahoma to Minnesota as temperatures in the Plains rise into the 70's and 60's across the Great Lakes.  A weak disturbance moving into southwest Texas will bring a few showers there while a series of low pressure systems move into the northwest bring rain, wind and mountain snow.  If your travel plans take you north, south, east or west from Wisconsin and Illinois you shouldn't run into too many problems.  On Thanksgiving Day a strong cold front will come through during the evening bringing with it a few showers in the late afternoon and evening.  Winds will remain gusty from the southwest Thursday but then quickly shift around to the north/northwest Friday dropping temperatures into the low 30s by Friday afternoon! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Staying Safe This Thanksgiving (And Beyond)

It doesn't look like the weather will play much of a role this Thanksgiving... locally, at least. But as we get ready to kick off the holidays, there are plenty of ways to stay safe when you're traveling. Here's a few things to consider if you're making any sort of road trip this holiday season.

1. Check The Roads: Knowing what the roads look like in relation to the weather will make you better prepared for your trip. You can check out Illinois road conditions here and Wisconsin road conditions here.

2. Keep Gas In The Tank: Having at least half a tank of gas comes in real handy if you get stranded for some reason. It's hard to stay warm in a car that isn't running.

3. Have An Emergency Kit: Once again, if you get stranded, you'll want a way to stay safe until help arrives. Find out what goes into a good kit and other safety tips here.

Have a happy (and safe) Thanksgiving!

Warmth by the middle of this week followed by another cool down by this weekend

The drought across Wisconsin and Illinois this past week has shown some improvement in all categories.  With the little rainfall we've experienced over the past couple weeks we're slowly eating away at the rainfall deficit; although we still have a lot of ground to make up before we're in the clear. 

Looking at this week there are not too many opportunities for rainfall.  There were a few light showers in Iowa and Wisconsin early Monday morning but as that activity encountered the dry air in place across Wisconsin and Illinois it pretty much fizzled out.  High pressure will dominate the weather both Tuesday and Wednesday leaving us with fair skies and a warm up just in time for Thanksgiving.  A few showers will be possible late in the day Thursday and into early Friday morning as a cold front moves through the Midwest and Great Lakes.

Cold air will rush in Friday behind the front making it a blustery afternoon for anyone wrapping up their Black Friday shopping.  The weather pattern following Thanksgiving looks to remain a fairly active one with low pressure systems moving onshore in the Northwest and zipping through the Midwest.  With each storm system that passes it will slowly begin to pull down colder, arctic air from the north.  For the past couple days weather models have been hinting at some activity occurring, whether it be rain or snow, for the last couple days of November through the first of December.  Something to keep an eye on as the winter season approaches.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Week in a Nutshell

A switch in the weather pattern is occurring that will bring a spell of mild temperatures to the Stateline through Thanksgiving day. Clouds tonight will make for a milder night than recent days. the low will be in the upper 30's. A weak disturbance will keep skies mostly cloudy on Monday, and there will be a chance of sprinkles or very light rain showers in the afternoon. The high will be in the middle 50's. Modified Pacific high pressure will take control of area weather on Tuesday. The clouds will break up, and it will be sunny in the afternoon. Highs will still be in the 50's, but warmer air will spread in from the plains on Wednesday pushing the mercury up into the low 60's under sunny skies. It will be in the low 60's again on Thanksgiving Day with morning sunshine giving way to some clouds in the afternoon. It will be breezy, too, in advance of a cold front stretching across Minnesota and Nebraska into Colorado. The cold front will move across the Stateline on Thursday night ushering cold temperatures for Friday. It will be partly cloudy, windy, and colder on Friday with a high around 47 degrees. The wind will be northwesterly 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph, so you will definitely feel the wind chill when you go shopping on Black Friday. The wind will subside on Saturday as high pressure settles into the area. It will remain cool for the weekend with highs in the 40's.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Week... Above Average Temps!

A strong ridge of high pressure will remain nearly stationary for the next couple of days from New England southwest through Texas.  It will be mostly sunny and nice for this time of year on Sunday with a high in the upper 50's.  Light southerly winds will prevail.  On Tuesday a weak cool front will be dissipating as it moves in from the west.  Skies will be mostly cloudy, and there is a slight chance of some light rain showers northwest of Rockford during the day, and across the area during the evening through the overnight.  Clouds will limit afternoon temperatures to the middle 50's.  Low temperatures on Monday night will be in the low 40's.  Skies will start out partly cloudy on Tuesday morning, but with drier air spreading into the area from the central plains, skies will become mostly sunny during the afternoon.  The afternoon high Tuesday will be around 57 degrees.  A sprawling high pressure area, originally of Pacific origin, will be sitting over southern Missouri early on Wednesday.  High temperatures have the potential of hitting 60 degrees on Wednesday afternoon.  The high will shift eastward to West Virginia by daybreak on Thanksgiving Day.  A fairly brisk southwesterly wind will set up across the area, and once again the temperature has the potential of reaching or topping 60 degrees.  A cool front will sweep across the area on Thursday night.  Friday will be mostly sunny and cooler with a high in the upper 40's.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated Winter Outlook Still Showing Uncertainty

Earlier today on the blog, we talked about a warmup in the short term forcast (The rest of November), but uncertainty in the December forecast. Well, the latest winter weather outlook from NOAA came out today... with few answers.

The Climate Prediction Center recently ended its El Nino Watch. An El Nino event (a warming of the waters off the Pacific coast of South America) can provide some clues as to what our winter will bring, but with the chances of one pretty much gone now, we have to go back to the drawing board.

Updated 2012 Winter Outlook
  The latest outlook puts the Stateline at an equal chance of above/below/near normal precip and temps. While it is unclear what type of winter we will see, we can make an educated guess.

Just from the numbers, this winter should be harsher than last winter. Last winter (Dec-Feb) we received 21.3" of snow, which is below the normal of 29.2" for a typical winter. It may not seem that much below normal until you realize last year was the first winter with below average snow since 2005-2006.

Temps were also abnormally warm... our average temp last winter was 30.2°, which made 2011-2012 the third warmest winter on record. Our average winter temp is 24.2°.

Right now, we're calling for a more "traditional" winter. That means snowfall should be right around 29" with seasonable temps. It remains to be seen if our snowfall could come in a few big storms, or many small snowfalls. More updates to come!

Current Weather Pattern: A Sign Of Things To Come?

We are officially one week out from Thanksgiving, and the forecast is looking quiet and mild. We only have one rain chance over the coming week (Monday night and Tuesday) and at the moment, that is just a slight chance. We may even be talking a significant warm-up leading into Thanksgiving.

But is this a sign of things to come? According to the Climate Prediction Center, the answer could be a yes.

Temp. Outlook: Nov. 23-29
 Here's the current temperature outlook for the week after Thanksgiving, starting on Black Friday. Most of the country is expecting warmer than normal temperatures. As for precip, we have an equal chance of seeing above or below rain or snowfall. In other words, we don't know. So even if we see some more active weather, temperatures should stay on the warmer side.

Temp. and Precip. Outlook: December
 December is sort of up in the air as to what will happen at this point. We have equal chances of seeing above or below average temps and precip. Once again, we don't know. Something to keep an eye on, though, is the chance of above average precip to our south and east. If that shifts a little, we could be talking a snowy (or rainy) end to 2012.

Viewer Photos: Sunrise this Morning

Tom and Jodi
Sunrise in Dixon, IL
Gail Haller Whelchel
Sunrise in Roscoe, IL

Lisa Foster

Cloud cover from last night is beginning to thin some near the Mississippi River making for a beautiful sunrise Thursday morning.  Here are a couple photos from our viewers!  If you have any sunrise photos from this morning you can email them to:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stuck in the middle

A split and progressive flow in the jet stream this week will keep the Arctic cold north and any big rain makers south.  The northern branch of the jet stream will remain near the U.S/Canadian border while the southern branch of the jet stream moves through the gulf states.  For us, this means temperatures will moderate some through the weekend with highs rising back into the 50s and little rain expected.

By early next week low pressure is forecast to develop in the central Plains possibly bringing a warm up by Wednesday and Thursday will another cool down to follow by next Friday.  This means turkey day could be a little warmer than days past but there may be a chill for shoppers Friday.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Winter is right around the corner

November 11th through the 17th is Winter Weather Preparedness week in Illinois and with wind chills this afternoon near 20° and light snow falling across Wisconsin I think this week is the perfect time to talk about everything you need to know regarding winter.  Now is the time to prepare yourself and family should we have another Groundhog Day Blizzard that drops 15"-20" and 50 mph wind gusts.

Winds of change this morning

A strong cold front plowed through the Stateline Sunday afternoon bringing with it rain and then a mixture of rain/snow/sleet for some early this morning.  Gusty south winds ahead of the front warmed temperatures into the upper 60s, but this morning the mercury has dropped to the low to mid 20s!  West winds will remain gusty through the afternoon keeping highs in the low to mid 30s with wind chills remaining in the 20s.  While sunshine starts the morning Monday cloud cover will roll in from the northwest by noon and continue into the evening.  With such cold air in place it's possible a few light flurries may fall this afternoon. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Temperatures Tumble

A strong cold front pressed eastward through the Stateline on Sunday evening.  A band of moderate rainfall was associated with the passage of the front.  Temperatures reached an almost balmy 68 degrees before the front arrived.  As of 11 pm the temperature has plummeted 30 degrees from that afternoon high to 38 degrees.  Modified arctic air following in behind the front will cause the mercury to fall at least another 10 degrees into the middle to upper 20's by daybreak on Monday.  There could be some snow flakes in the air in the next couple of hours just as the precipitation comes to a complete end.  No accumulation of snow is expected.  Sprawling Canadian high pressure will dominate Stateline weather for the next few days.  However, it be breezy again by midday Monday, and with some moisture drawn in from the north, there could be some snow flurries in the afternoon.  The high temperature on Monday afternoon will only be around 34 degrees.  That will prove to be quiet a shock to the system after weekend temperatures in the 60's.  Not only will the actual  temperature make you feel cold, the wind chill, because of 15-25 mph westerly winds will plunge to wind chill into the low 20's.  Have a nice day!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wind and Rain on Veteran's Day

An intense low pressure storm system is spinning over Minnesota tonight.  A cold front drops southwest from the low across northwestern Iowa, eastern Nebraska across western Kansas.  There is a tight pressure gradient associated with the low so that southerly winds will blow tonight, and for a good part of the day on Sunday from 20 to 30 mph with gusts on Veteran's Day expected to reach around 40 mph.  With this strong southerly flow over night, temperatures will not drop much.  The lows will be in the middle to upper 50's across the Stateline.  The average low this time of year is 33 degrees.  There could be a couple of light rain showers overnight, but nothing much is expected.  The front will be moving eastward across Iowa on Sunday, and as it gets closer to the Stateline showers will develop.  Showers will be likely by noon time, and you can expect occasional rain during the afternoon.  There might even be some late season thunderstorms.  The temperature will top out in the low to middle 60's.  The average high this time of year is 51 degrees.  The cold front will probably move across the area by the supper hour.  The wind will switch to the west at 10-15 mph, and rain showers will continue through the evening. Much colder air will feed into our region by midnight, and there could be some rain mixed with wet snow before it ends well after midnight.  A steep drop in temperature will continue taking the overnight low to around 28 degrees.  It will be partly cloudy, breezy and cold on Monday with a chance of afternoon snow flurries.  The afternoon high will only be around 33 degrees.  That will be quite a shock after being in the 60's over the weekend.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Naming Winter Storms: A Brewing Controversy?

If you're a fan of The Weather Channel, you probably know that they have begun to name major winter storms. There are several reasons for this, including raising awareness about strong winter storms. You can read The Weather Channel's full reasoning for naming storms here.

But not everybody is thrilled with The Weather Channel's initiative. In fact, when "Athena" struck the East Coast earlier this week, the National Weather Service issued this bulletin.

As you can see, the NWS does not want people to use these names. But the question is... why? Some people might argue that while The Weather Channel is more than qualified to handle severe weather, they don't have the same qualifications as the NWS. Others say that since The Weather Channel is doing this without the cooperation of groups like the NWS, it might actually cause more confusion. The Washington Post has an article outlining some of the concerns here.

So what do you think? Do you like that The Weather Channel is naming storms? Do you think it will help or cause more confusion? Time will tell.

A weekend full of ups and downs

A developing storm system will pull down a very cold air mass across the western U.S. while warmer than normal air lifts north across the Midwest and Great Lakes.  Blizzard Warnings, Winter Weather Advisories and Winter Storm Warnings are posted for Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and just east of the Rockies in anticipation of the low as it moves into the Plains.
Gusty south winds Saturday will allow temperatures to rise into the 70s across parts of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.  Cloud cover should begin to break up Saturday afternoon after a few morning showers across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin allowing temperatures to rise into the mid and upper 60s.  Highs will once again rise into the low 60s Sunday ahead of a strong cold front that will swing through by Sunday evening.  Temperatures behind the front will drop 30 degrees by Sunday night with afternoon highs only reaching the upper 30s both Monday and Tuesday.

Rainfall totals may end up on the hefty side along and just behind the front by Sunday night.  With southerly winds moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will stream north through Illinois and Wisconsin this weekend.  With such a strong and dynamic storm system moving through it's possible near an inch of rain may fall through the weekend.  However, once the cold air arrives behind the front we'll likely develop a rain/snow mix late Sunday before light snow falls by Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

East Coast Dealing With Another Major Storm

A week after Sandy devastated parts of the East Coast, another strong storm known as a nor'easter is taking aim at the exact same area.

A nor'easter is a strong storm system that we typically see form along the East Coast. The name, however doesn't come from its geographic location. Rather, the name comes from the fact that winds blow from the northeast and usually cause all sorts of problems.

Here's the radar image for the East Coast just after 3:00pm on Wednesday. The reason a nor'easter is so powerful is because it's pulling in warm, moist air from one side and cold air from the other. Those two ingredients meet and you get this. But all that snow you're seeing is the least of our problems.

This storm is producing strong wind gusts of 50-60mph, which is leading to storm surge and coastal flooding. Sandy left many of these affected areas vulnerable, so things will get worse before they get better. As for the snow, some spots could see half a foot of accumulation by Thursday.

In fact, the snow is already piling up. Here are a few pictures from Connecticut, courtesy of Christie Nicks' sister.