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A Moderate Day
Sunday, 22 May 2011 17:36
20110522_severeSevere storms are expected today. The 7:30 a.m. Outlook Update increased areas to our east, including the northwestern most section of Indiana, to a moderate risk for severe storms.

Over the last hour or so a line of severe storms passed through the area. At least five Severe Thunderstorm Warnings were issued for various parts of the county. They came in so fast and consistently that I started to loose count. The warnings were ominous, with "golf ball sized hail and hurricane force winds in excess of 80 mph". We got some gusty winds and a good rain, 0.28 inches in less than an hour (auto-gauge and CoCoRaHS agree!). We're also under a Tornado Watch until 10:00 p.m., the furthermost east county in the watch. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch begins to our east and includes all of northern Indiana and southwest Michigan.

20110522_1730_watch_warningsThe bigger story is expected later tonight. Currently, a line of severe storms has formed over eastern Iowa and is moving into western Illinois. This line is expected to from into a squall line in the next few hours bringing with it a chance of high winds, severe hail, and isolated tornadoes.

It's been hot lately, too. Temperatures today are in the upper 80s. Honeywell reached a high of 86 degrees earlier, but since the passage of the storms the temperature has dropped to around 66. Tomorrow should be about the same before a cold front comes through dropping temperatures into the high 50s/lower 60s on Tuesday, with a quick warm up into the mid 70s on Wednesday before dropping back into the low to mid 60s Thursday. Chances for storms continue through at least Thursday, with a lull Tuesday.

A day after my last post, eastern sections of our county were under a severe thunderstorm warning. The storms didn't affect us, in all we received 0.14 inches of rain and maybe a few gusty winds.

Our annual Pre-Memorial Day party is fast approaching! The 10 Day Outlook showed 72 degrees, sunny, and zero percent chance of precipitation on day 10. A couple of days later, the forecast temperature has dropped to 68 degrees, sunny and no rain is still a go! I hope I hope I hope...
 
Warnings, a Watch and 0.01
Thursday, 12 May 2011 10:10
Severe storms rolled through the area last night dropping large hail with gusty winds and heavy rain. I went to band practice a few towns northeast of my house, and because the storms were rolling in I took my little Oregon Scientific radio with me. A few miles north of home the radio went off announcing a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. The announcement stated the line of storms was currently north and east of my location - exactly the direction I was headed - and moving very slowly northeast around fifteen miles per hour. As I neared practice, some small hail started falling. The hail only lasted a minute or two and was very small where I was at. While at practice, a band mate's relative emailed some pictures of hail they received about twenty minutes away. Much larger golf-ball sized hail covered their lawn. There were also a couple periods of heavy rain.

After I got back from practice I checked my gauge to see what I missed. It was bone dry. Danielle said she saw some lightning and heard a little thunder, but we missed the storms entirely. A few more scattered storms came through overnight. This morning my gauge had enough moisture in it to report 0.01 inches. Our county was warned twice for severe storms, but both times the storms affected the very northern sections of the county. We were also under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for a few hours, which was dropped some four hours or so before the expected expiration time.

More storms are in the forecast for today, but at this time nothing severe is expected, although we remain in the five-percent chance for wind and hail. It's hot again, but not as bad as the last couple of days with an expected high of 83 degrees.

More rain and storms are in the forecast for the coming days. The ten day outlook has about a fifty-fifty chance for rain or sun almost everyday. We're expected to cool down to the 50s this weekend and stay there most of the coming week.

Rockford set another record high temperature of 91 degrees.
 
Outlooks Keep a Changin'
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 11:16
20110511_severeThis is the time of year that the weather drives me nuts. The weather is always uncertain and changing, but this time of year especially the differences in expectations and actuality can be significant.  Will there be severe storms with 70+ mph winds and large hail? Or will it be dry and steamy? Today's Severe Outlooks sum up the consternation perfectly.

The 1:00 a.m. Outlook had us comfortably away from any slight severe areas, but near a "see text". The 7:30 a.m. Outlook update significantly increased the size of the slight area to just include our corner of the state, and also dropped a sizable moderate area from Kansas and Oklahoma. The 11:30 a.m. Outlook update increased the slight area even more to include the entire northern half of Indiana.

It's hot today. The forecast high is anywhere from 84 to 91 degrees depending on which forecast you look at. Today, by most forecasts, is supposed to be the hottest day this week. Honeywell reported an unofficial high of 97.7 degrees yesterday, but I'm mostly convinced I have my temperature sensor in a less-than-ideal location. The closest weather station near me registered a high of around 88 degrees yesterday, and from my experience that kind of differential is pretty consistent on hot, sunny days. I need to find a better location for my sensor.

It is going to be hot again tomorrow, but slightly less so than today. We're in store for a cool down this weekend, with forecast temperatures in the low 60s, but the forecast discussion hints that it could get a bit colder than that. Chances for storms stay around through the weekend, changing to chances for rain on Saturday and then the chances fall off early next week.

Chicago and Rockford set records for high temperatures yesterday reaching 90 and 91 degrees respectively.
 
Too Much for One Lazy Man
Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:11
There's been a lot of blog-worthy weather lately, and although I have been busy, that's a poor excuse. The truth is I'm lazy. So to avoid a massive marathon catching up, I will sum up as concisely as I can.

Shortly after my last post (more than two weeks ago!) we missed another potential severe event. A tornado watch was issued, with several warned storms appearing to our east. Eventually, the watch area was increased to include the entire state of Indiana. At the same time, severe weather was hammering other sections of the country. Several PDS Watches (for Particularly Dangerous Situation) were issued for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and that general vicinity. A High Risk area was issued from east Texas and Arkansas to include parts of Tennessee. And what turned out to be extremely foreboding, a HUGE area for a Moderate Risk was added in the Day 2 Outlook upgrade.

Again, my last post discussed the "historic" April we had been having. Little did I realize how "historic" it would actually be. The next few days saw one of the worst tornado outbreaks in history. From Mississippi to New York, 292 tornado reports were issued on April 27 alone. Alabama bore the brunt of the storms this time, with entire communities completely wiped from the map. Well over 300 people lost their lives, thousands were injured, and property damage is in the billions.

Numerous reports have been issued as a result of this historic outbreak. Links are included below.

DEVASTATING TORNADO OUTBREAK SERVES AS REMINDER OF IMPORTANCE OF PREPAREDNESS

WEDNESDAY'S DEADLY TORNADO OUTBREAK

The Chicago NWS Office also posted the April "look back" and a Retrospective analysis of Winter 2010-11. To sum up: April was mostly normal, with an "eh" record set for snowfall. This last winter was snowy, but not so much when compared to recent years. Also, the Chicago NWS posted a report about the gloomy month of April. Look Back and Gloomy Month are below, with a link to the Retrospective.

RETROSPECTIVE ANALYSIS of WINTER 2010-11
A look back at the climate for the month of April 2011 for Chicago and Rockford...
At Chicago... the average high temperature was 56.1 degrees which is 1.9 degrees below normal. The average low temperature was 39.3 degrees which is 1.7 degrees above normal. The average temperature for the month was 47.7 degrees which is 0.1 degrees below normal. 4.90 inches of precipitation were recorded which is 1.22 inches above normal. 0.6 inches of snow were recorded which is 1.0 inches below normal. A record daily snowfall of 0.6 inches was set on April 18th... which broke the previous record for the date of 0.4 inches set in 1910.

At Rockford... the average high temperature was 57.7 degrees which is 1.4 degrees below normal. The average low temperature was 40.1 degrees which is 3.3 degrees above normal. The average temperature for the month was 48.9 degrees which is 1.0 degrees above normal. 3.40 inches of precipitation were recorded which is 0.22 inches below normal. A trace of snow was recorded which is 1.4 inches below normal. No records were tied or set during the month of April at Rockford.

Information about the gloomy month of April 2011...
It was a gloomy April in Rockford. Interestingly... 3.40 inches of precipitation were recorded at Rockford Airport... which is actually 0.22 inches below normal. What was notable about April... despite the slightly below normal monthly total... was the very frequent occurrence of precipitation. At least a trace of precipitation occurred on 21 out of the 30 days in April... with at least 0.01 inches recorded on 16 out of the 30 days and 11 days with at least 0.10 of precipitation recorded. The April normal for days with at least 0.01 inches of precipitation is 12 and the normal for days with at least 0.10 inches of precipitation is 7. The frequent precipitation led to persistent cloud cover for much of the month.

Despite probable public perception that it was also unusually cool in April... temperatures were actually near to slightly above normal across northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana. Average maximum temperatures at Rockford were 1.4 degrees below normal... but average minimum temperatures were 3.3 degrees above normal... leaving the monthly average temperature 1.0 degrees above the 1971-2000 normal of 47.9. This owes to the persistent cloud cover and frequent precipitation that in general kept days cooler and nights milder.
Today started with an almost no-chance for precipitation. The forecast discussion stated that a very strong cap would keep storms at bay during the day, with only a twenty-percent chance for showers or storms. All forecasts have had us dry all day. A little while ago, I was surprised to hear the weather radios go off announcing a Severe Thunderstorm Watch. We are in the very northwest corner of the watch area, and the radar shows all of the convection occurring off to the south and east of us, although the forecast discussion now has a chance for some storms to form over our area. My gut tells me we're in the clear, though. But we're under at least a five-percent chance for severe storms the next few days, although our county is not in any specific delineated area, just the "five-percent" surrounding the areas for "slight".

The forecast is typical for May in Northwest Indiana: almost daily chances for storms (some severe), hot today and tomorrow reaching into the low 90s, with a cool down to more seasonal 70s by the weekend with continued chances for rain and some storms.
 
More and More and Another Day 3
Monday, 25 April 2011 12:07
It seems like the severe weather will never end. April is turning out to be a record month for severe events. A significant tornado outbreak in Wisconsin early in the month, a devastating outbreak in North Carolina, a direct hit at the St. Louis airport, along with days and days of more "regular" severe events, all will make April 2011 a historic month for the record books.

Earlier this month the SPC issued a Moderate risk area on the Day 3 Outlook. I discussed the reports detailing how unusual a Moderate in the Day 3 Outlook is. It is now just a little bit less unusual. The SPC has issued another Moderate area in today's Day 3 Outlook for eastern Alabama, northern Alabama, northwest Georgia, central Tennessee and eastern Kentucky.

Today, parts of eastern Texas, southeast Oklahoma, northern Louisiana, most of Arkansas, and northeastern Mississippi and southwest Tennessee are also under a Moderate risk for severe storms. AND, another PSWO has been issued! And not to be outdone, the Day 2 Outlook has another Moderate area for almost the same area as today, moving just a little bit east. Experience suggests another PSWO is in store for tomorrow.

Despite a lot of rain, 4.73 inches this month so far, with 3.34 of those inches in the last ten days (and another inch-plus forecast in the next few days), we have managed to escape any significant severe weather. Our last episode last week prompted one Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the southern half of our county and counties south of us. We had some gusty winds and some moderate rain, but nothing sinister. We have a slight chance for severe weather tomorrow, but the current forecast has the delineation one county south and one county east of us.

We're not the only ones getting a lot of rain. Huge areas of the country surrounding the Ohio and Mississippi rivers are under flood advisories, watches, and warnings. The Chicago NWS posted a report about a record number of consecutive days with measurable precipitation. The day the report was issued, we had light showers move through literally in the last hour of the day. I am assuming Chicago did not receive any of that precipitation, because I have not seen an update to that initial report. Regardless, it's been really rainy, and will continue so at least for another few days.

More rain and storms are in store for the next couple of days before we dry out a bit before MORE rain and storms return for the weekend. Temperatures have been hovering slightly at or below seasonal averages, in the mid 50s to low 60s. We're expecting a warm up into the high 60s and maybe the low to mid 70s by early next week.
Unusually long streak of wet weather in Chicago...

Friday marked the 8th consecutive day with measurable precipitation in Chicago. This ties for the 11th longest streak in recorded history in Chicago. There is still some chance that there could be measurable precipitation before midnight CST... though that chance admittedly looks remote. If measurable rain does happen to fall... then the longest streak of days with measurable precipitation in Chicago would be in jeopardy based on the forecast for the next few days. Here is a list of the longest wet streaks in Chicago...

Days - Last day
1) 11 - 05/25/1949
11 - 09/03/1880
3) 10 - 08/11/1977
10 - 06/20/1876
5) 9 - 05/18/2006
9 - 05/28/2001
9 - 11/01/1991
9 - 10/21/1984
9 - 05/17/2945
9 - 04/18/1885
11) 8 - 04/22/2011*

* = there were additional years tied for 11th place that were omitted from the list.

PUBLIC SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1144 AM CDT MON APR 25 2011

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS EXPECTED OVER PARTS OF THE SOUTHERN PLAINS AND LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER VALLEY THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT...

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER IN NORMAN OK IS FORECASTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A FEW STRONG TORNADOES...LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS OVER PARTS OF THE SOUTHERN PLAINS AND LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER VALLEY THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT.

THE AREAS MOST LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE THIS ACTIVITY INCLUDE

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ARKANSAS

NORTHERN LOUISIANA
NORTHWEST MISSISSIPPI
SOUTHEAST OKLAHOMA
WESTERN TENNESSEE
NORTHEAST TEXAS

ELSEWHERE...SURROUNDING THE MODERATE RISK AREA...SEVERE STORMS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE FROM CENTRAL TEXAS INTO THE MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI RIVER VALLEY...IN ADDITION TO PORTIONS OF OHIO/PENNSYLVANIA.

SEVERE STORMS ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TO INCREASE THROUGH THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING OVER PARTS OF THE SOUTHERN PLAINS AND LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY...ESPECIALLY INCLUDING PORTIONS OF NORTHEAST TEXAS...EASTERN OKLAHOMA INTO MUCH OF ARKANSAS AND NORTHERN LOUISIANA. THESE STORMS WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING TORNADOES...A FEW OF WHICH COULD BE STRONG...IN ADDITION TO VERY LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS. WHILE THE GREATEST SEVERE RISK IS EXPECTED THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING ACROSS THE MODERATE RISK AREA...THE SEVERE THREAT WILL CONTINUE WELL THROUGH THE NIGHT INTO THE LOWER AND MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI RIVER VALLEY.

OF NOTE...ANOTHER VERY ACTIVE SEVERE WEATHER DAY IS AGAIN EXPECTED ACROSS THE SAME GENERAL REGION TOMORROW... INCLUDING PORTIONS OF THE ARKLATEX REGION TO THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER VALLEY. THE SEVERE THREAT WILL LIKELY SHIFT A BIT EASTWARD ACROSS THE TENNESSEE RIVER VALLEY AND INTERIOR GULF COAST STATES INTO WEDNESDAY. OUTBREAKS OF SEVERE WEATHER WILL BE POSSIBLE EACH DAY...INCLUDING A NUMBER OF TORNADOES...LARGE HAIL...AND DAMAGING WINDS.
 
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