After 13 straight days with temperatures below average we should finally warm back up to just about average today with a high in the lower 40s. Today should be the warmest day we have seen in nearly two weeks. Monday could be the warmest day we have seen in over two months. Monday’s high will get close to 50°. Last time we were that warm was way back on December 28th last year when the high hit 50°. If we hit 50° on Monday it will only be the 4th time highs have hit 50° or more since the start of winter. Last winter we hit 50° or more ten times by now with even a few 60s and one 70° high mixed in.
These warmer days will be welcome after such a cold start to 2014. 50 of the first 65 days, or 77% of days, have been below average. Only 10 days in January were above average and only 5 in February.
These signs of spring come amid periods of colder than average weather though. 30s for highs this weekend and we’re back below average again for the middle and end of next week. So enjoy it while you can!
The graphic below shows the forecast temperatures for 3 pm Monday from the GFS model.
By Meteorologist Tom Skilling
The 2013-14 cold season has taken Chicagoans on quite a ride. Now in its fifth month, the chill’s relentless nature has most in the area ready for a break. That’s why predictions of 40s Friday and the year’s first 50 by Monday, are being followed with such interest.
7 of 10 days on average have posted temp deficits since November and March 2014, which enters its 7th day Friday, is running 17-degrees below normal and 10-degrees colder than the same period a year ago.
Snowy spell in the forecast Saturday morning is to be sandwiched between 2 spells of “warming
Friday’s 40s—the warmest readings here in the nearly 2 weeks since Feb. 20—as well as a second surge of even milder air late Sunday and Monday, will be interrupted late Friday night and Saturday morning by a snow-generating disturbance. The system, scheduled to hit between the two mild spells, threatens to generate a slushy accumulation of up to an inch Saturday in at least parts of the area before winding down and giving way to mixed sunshine Saturday afternoon.
U.S. snowpack in decline over the past week with Pacific air’s arrival
A more westerly flow aloft—in place of the seemingly ceaseless northwest steering winds directly out of the arctic which have dominated so much of the current cold season—is sending milder Pacific air streaming across the Lower 48.
The warming which has occurred has been nibbling away at the snow cover draped across a large swath of the Lower 48.
While 57.3 per cent of the country was beneath a layer of snow as the week began, NOAA, the parent agency of the National Weather Service, reported Thursday that the country’s snow cover had dropped to 45.6% of the 48 contiguous states.
In Chicago, where an inch or more of snow has covered the ground for 68 consecutive days, the snowpack, which reached a depth of 17-inches on Feb. 17 has since dropped to 5-inches.
Powerful t-storms sweep Florida Thursday; tornadoes, waterspouts and damaging wind gusts reported
Severe t-storms, some of them tornadic, swept Florida Thursday.
For a time, a tornado watch was issued, but allowed to expire as powerful t-storms swept across the peninsula and out to sea. Wind gusts exceeded 60 mph in some of the heavier storms and storm chasers and authorities in portions of the Sunshine State reported brief tornado touchdowns.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issues “El Nino Watch”
Warming of the equatorial Pacific waters is predicted by climate forecast models by a suite of forecast models, possibly of a full blown El Niño conditions there.
El Niños are carefully monitored because they can send powerful storms crashing into the U.S. West Coast while bathing much of the Midwest and northerns Plains in warmer than normal temp regimes during these regions’ cold season.
No two El Niños are exactly alike. Each has its own character. So while western storms and Midwest warming OFTEN accompany El Niños, particularly during cold seasons, some of these events produce very different results. As a result, the evolution of this latest El Niño will have to be monitored.
Despite this winter’s cold and snow, it seems like it was sunnier. Am I correct?— Ben Walsh
Your perception is correct. Chicago climatologist Frank Wachowski reports that this winter was sunnier than normal, delivering 47 percent of its possible sunshine, compared with the 43 percent winter normal. February was exceptionally sunny, logging 60 percent of possible sun, well above the month’s 47 percent average. It was the city’s sunniest February since 2006, which also averaged 60 percent. December was winter’s cloudiest month with just 39 percent of possible sun compared with the 41 percent norm. January had a 43 percent average, slightly above the 42 percent normal. The city basked in its sunniest winter nearly a century ago in 1916-17 when it received 59.1 percent of its possible sunshine.
By Meteorologist Tom Skilling
Winds circulating around a mammoth Pacific storm covering the vast majority of the warmer-than-normal waters of the North Pacific, are to reach Chicago Friday. Remarkably, the storm extends from Asia thousands of miles to the U.S. West Coast. This sets up a deep westerly flow through the atmosphere which maximizes the flood of warmer oceanic air onto the U.S. mainland to Chicago’s West. Barring unforeseen developments, the developing meteorological set-up is on target to potentially boost end of week temps here to their highest levels in 15 days, propelling Chicago readings into the 40s. And Friday’s predicted warming appears just a tease for even more impressive warming slated to ride gusty west winds into the metro area later Sunday and Monday.
There are indications temps Monday, given the strength of the westerly winds predicted to be blowing here, could mix 50-degree warmth down to the surface. A 50-degree temp would be the warmest to date this year and the mildest reading to occur here since the 50-degree high10 weeks earlier on Dec. 28.
The warmer pattern is most likely transitional—not one likely to stick around
The news isn’t all good. The changing pattern and surges of warmer temps we’re predicting are likely to be interrupted by a moderate push of colder air Friday night into Saturday. This may well support a wintry weather system’s return to the local weather scene.
Rain or a wintry mix later Friday night could transition to wet snow for a time into Saturday morning. It also appears a return to colder temps may be in the cards the middle and end of next week. Longer range computer models continue to project below normal temperatures overall extending from March into April.
Though the new pattern offering the prospect of some warming to Chicago may not last, ANY interruption in the cold weather which has dominated the area for more the 4 months, will certainly be well received by a population weary of the cold and snow.
Warming isn’t easily achieved this time of year. There are impediments to a rapid boost in temperatures—at times some really stubborn ones.
Snow cover is one example. When snow’s on the ground, it reflects incoming sunlight back into space which makes it hard to warm.
Friday could host this area’s mildest temps in 15 days; even milder temps appear headed this way Monday
Friday’s predicted 43-degree high would be the Chicago area’s warmest in the nearly two weeks, the last time daytime temps here peaked at 49-degrees.
A wind shift to the northeast off icy Lake Michigan late Friday night and Saturday is to send temps lower. But west to southwest winds return and grow stronger Sunday afternoon and Monday. It’s during this period the area’s mildest temps in weeks are a real possibility.
Interruption in chill doesn’t signal an end to cold weather just yet; unusual warmth in north Pacific waters—a factor in this winter’s recurrent chill—is still very much alive
It’s all but certain we’ve not seen the last of this season’s chilly weather. Ocean temperatures remain much warmer than normal across most of the north Pacific. This has warmed the air above and produced recurrent domes of unseasonably mild air since November which has, in turn, driven a northward buckling of jet stream winds into Alaska and western North America, at the same time supporting the persistent northwest winds aloft which have carried this cold season’s arctic outbreaks into the Lower 48 with regularity.
With warm ocean waters still in place across the North Pacific, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see a series of new cold surges descend on the area before spring and summer’s “warmth” is in full control.