Severe and a Lotta Rain
The potential for severe weather has been hanging around for most of the past week and continues through today and possibly into tomorrow. Strong winds and severe hail are possible and heavy rain is likely today and tonight. We are under a Flash Flood Watch until tomorrow morning and a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, issued earlier for parts of Illinois, was just extended to include our corner of the state until 9:00 p.m. tonight. A heavy band of storms is currently crawling across central and eastern Illinois just south of our area.

So far we've been fortunate and have not experienced any of the severe weather that's been popping up around the region lately. We were under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for most of the evening on May 3 but experienced nothing sinister, just 0.29 inches of rain during that 24 hour period. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning and a couple of Special Statements were issued for the northern half of our county, but all of that moved across to our north.

20120428-0507_severeToday's graphic shows the constant thunderstorm chances and severe outlooks for April 28 through May 7 (tomorrow). Despite all the potential, we received no severe weather and only 1.16 inches of rain with a couple of dry days during that period. Today we've added at least another 0.2 inches so far, with more (possibly) to come tonight and tomorrow.

Since I have continued to fail in my regular blogging, I must play catch up once more. Over the last couple of weeks we've had a bit of wind (Wind Advisory on April 16) a couple Special Statements and a slew of Nowcasts for storms passing through the area. My favorite bit was during the week of April 22 when we simultaneously had a Freeze Warning and a Fire Weather Advisory at the same time. Freezing fire weather! Positively ominous. Though it got a bit cold, nothing burned and we survived that period unscathed.

Chances for rain and some thunderstorms should stick around the next few days, but right now the forecast has us drying out later in the week with "seasonably cool" temperatures. After all the recent storm potential, a few days of promised quiet weather will be most welcome.
Big Day
20120414_severeToday is another big day for severe weather. From Minnesota to Texas, a large portion of the central U.S. is under a severe weather threat. A PSWO has been issued mainly for Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. This area is under a High risk for severe weather, including dangerous and long tracked tornadoes. As of 3:00 p.m., several PDS Tornado Watches have already been issued.
It was only the second time in U.S. history that the Storm Prediction Center issued a high-risk warning more than 24 hours in advance, said Russ Schneider, director of the center, which is part of the National Weather Service. The first time was in April 2006, when nearly 100 tornadoes tore across the southeastern U.S., killing a dozen people and damaging more than 1,000 homes in Tennessee. By SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press
20120414_day2Tomorrow brings the severe threat closer to home. The current Day 2 Outlook has a Slight chance for severe just clipping our area. Tomorrow's threat is less significant than today with primarily high winds and hail a threat during an expected cold front passage. Central Wisconsin is under a Moderate threat tomorrow.

The unprecedented heat in March gave way to more seasonable temperatures, and recently we had a batch of Freeze Watches and Warnings. The temperature is expected to get near 80 degrees tomorrow before the storms pass and then temperatures should drop back into more seasonable upper 50s and 60s for the remainder of the week with chances of showers and storms returning by mid week.
It's winter! It's summer! Mother Nature is losing her mind!

We started off the month with a severe weather outbreak over the Kentucky/Tennessee Valley areas. The next few days brought some high winds and a Lake Effect Snow Advisory to our area. We got a nice covering of snow, but nothing to get excited about and it was all gone right away. We had another Wind Advisory a day after the snow. Since then the temperature has been on a steady climb from the upper 30s and suddenly we find ourselves in the middle of an unprecedented, 500-year heat wave event.

Records are being broken daily and have been for about a week now. Daily temperatures have been climbing into the mid 80s lately, and are expected to continue to be in or near the 80s for the next couple of days at least.

It's also that time of year again when we have almost daily chances for rain and storms, but except for 0.08 in the gauge this morning, we've had nothing but a trace in over a week. So far we've had less than 0.7 inches of precipitation for the month. That could easily double in a couple of days when we're expected to get some prolonged rain and storms with an expected inch or more of precipitation.

Depending on which forecast you want to believe, today should be the last 80+ degree day for awhile (we hit an unofficial high of 87). The forecast has the temperature dropping a few degrees, and then rising a few degrees, off and on over the next week before getting back to more seasonable temperatures in the 50s and 60s late in the week.

The Chicago NWS Office has been posting record reports daily, but I'm not going to bother copying them here. It's been HOT. 'nuff said.
Stuck In the Middle
20120302_severeA significant severe weather outbreak is expected today. The SPC issued a High Risk area centered right over Kentucky. A sizable Moderate Risk area surrounds the High Risk extending from central Indiana and central/western Ohio north to central Mississippi and Alabama south, from the Illinois-Missouri border on the west to northern Georgia, the western Carolinas and West Virgina east. A Slight Risk area surrounds this extending all the way to western New York and south to Louisiana.  A PSWO has been issued for areas in the High and Moderate Risks. The 7:00 a.m. Outlook Update places us just outside the Sight Risk area but within the five-percent area.

While much of the eastern US is expecting some kind of severe storms, including strong and long-lasting tornadoes, the bigger story around here is heavy snow expected for northern Illinois. The SPC briefing this morning dealt exclusively with the severe weather threat across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys today, while our local Severe Weather briefing spent most of their time on the heavy snow, with more than two inches per hour expected in some locations.

20120302_WC_severeCurrently, we're stuck right in the middle of the two events. We're not expected to get much if any snow, and although thunderstorms are expected, the severe threat is greatest a county or two south of us. While not particularly likely, we stand a chance for near 60 degree temperatures with severe storms this afternoon and accumulating snowfall tonight and overnight.

At 10:00 a.m. this morning, Storm and Tornado Watches and Warnings are already popping up all over the map. A sizable Severe Thunderstorm Watch area from western Illinois to central and southern Indiana (ending on the north just two counties to our south) just got upgraded to a PDS Tornado Watch.  Central Tennessee is already lit up with tornado warnings, with storm warnings stretching from the Illinois-Missouri border east to central Indiana, with a smattering of warnings in West Virginia and North Carolina. And the event is just getting started.

Today is going to be a rough day for a lot of people.

The forecast looks to be on track with a wintry weekend for us with temperatures dropping back into the 30s with periodic chances of light snow. The coming week looks pleasant with temperatures getting back into the 50s and little chance of precipitation until the end of the week.
Spring is Springing
Spring seems to be creeping up. Overnight temperatures are still dropping to around or just below freezing, but day time temperatures are gradually getting into spring territory. I'm still having trouble finding a good place to mount my temperature sensor that isn't affected by the sun, but several of the weather stations around the area posted mid-60s temperatures for a few hours yesterday.

20120301_day2otlk_0700Along with warming temperatures comes more severe weather. By my count we've had three PSWOs so far in just two months, and my money is on another one for tomorrow. Today's Day 2 Outlook from the SPC has a significant moderate area centered over the Ohio Valley region with a slight area for severe covering much of the country east (and a bit west) of the Mississippi River. The Weather Channel has been talking about Friday's upcoming event all week.

Our county is currently right on the edge of the slight delineation but well within the five-percent. The NWS forecast has a chance for rain and possibly a thunderstorm for our area, but The Weather Channel is forecasting possible severe storms. The SPC and our local NWS office haven't been much in agreement lately, and the extended forecasts have been changing significantly over the course of a few days. We still have at least two or three SPC updates before the event arrives, and hopefully something will change that lowers the severe potential.

Oddly, the Day 2 Convective Outlook map looks eerily similar to the first PSWO day we had back in late January. Another PSWO was issued on February 24 for the Carolinas and portions of the east coast. Another was issued just yesterday for much of the southeastern states. In the last two days at least six people lost their lives when an EF-4 tornado hit Harrisburg, IL and other tornadoes struck parts of Missouri (including Branson), southern Indiana and other locations. Initial reports suggest as many as thirty tornadoes touched down, with twenty so far confirmed.

The forecast has us experiencing a winter-like weekend with highs in the mid to upper 30s with lows possibly dipping into the upper teens. The coming week has highs climbing back into the mid to upper 50s. After our rain and possibly storms tomorrow, there is little chance for precipitation until late next week.

The Chicago NWS office published the "Look Back" for February. Summary: continues above average warmth with slightly less than average precipitation.
Statement as of 8:23 am CDT on March 1, 2012
A look back at the climate for the month of February 2012 for Chicago and Rockford...

At Chicago... the average high temperature was 40.2 degrees which is 4.9 degrees above normal. The average low temperature was 25.6 degrees which is 5.5 degrees above normal. The average temperature for the month was 32.9 degrees which is 5.2 degrees above normal. 1.64 inches of precipitation was recorded which is 0.15 inch below normal. 5.6 inches of snow was recorded which is 3.5 inches below normal.

No records were set at Chicago for the month of February.

At Rockford... the average high temperature was 38.7 degrees which is 4.5 degrees above normal. The average low temperature was 22.2 degrees which is 4.5 degrees above normal. The average temperature for the month was 30.5 degrees which is 4.6 degrees above normal. 1.31 inches of precipitation was recorded which is 0.10 inch below normal. 7.2 inches of snow was recorded which is 0.5 inch below normal.

Two records were set at Rockford for the month of February. The first record was on the 24th when 4.0 inches of snow fell... which broke the old record 3.5 inches set in 1940. The second record was on the 29th when 0.21 inch of rain fell... which broke the old record of 0.06 set in 2004.
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