Cubs fans celebrate Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday in a late March-level chill; northeast winds establish a large temp spread across the area

By Meteorologist Tom Skilling

It was SO nippy Wednesday that the day’s chilly northeast flow off Lake Michigan could only muster a March-level high of 51-degrees.

The flow produced quite a range ion temperatures across the greater Chicago area Wednesday. While inland readings hit 60 degrees toward Pontiac, lakeside temperatures made it no higher than 42 degrees at a number of locations.

Temps are to surge most strongly away from the lake Thursday; highs likely to beat Wednesday’s by almost 20-degrees inland.

Readings will rebound Thursday and Friday reaching the mid-60s inland Thursday and close to 70 degrees over much of the area Friday—-a near 20-degree increase compared to Wednesday’s highs.

Powerful spring storm’s southerly front side winds are to help pump temperatures up during this period. But model forecasts take readings down dramatically this weekend as rain chances edge higher Sunday—and even more so Sunday night and Monday.

ASK TOM: A quiet tornado season

Dear Tom,

Seems like a very quiet start to tornado season. Any explanations?

— Russ Bright,  Chicago

Dear Russ,

The greatly diminished occurrence of tornadoes in the nation thus far this season can be attributed to the prevalence of cold temperatures. Most of the country east of the Rocky Mountains experienced a cold winter, and the chill has spilled over into a cool start to spring. As of April?21, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., indicated only 21 occurrences of tornadoes of EF1 strength or stronger, the lowest number of tornadoes of that strength in at least 60 years. Even more fortunate is the news that tornadoes have claimed no lives thus far this year. The Storm Prediction Center says the last time the nation made it this far into the year without a tornado death was 1915 — 99 years ago.

Earth Day stamp

Check out the the new U.S. Postal Service 2014 Earth Day postage stamp. It featured an ocean temp map off one of our key supercomputer climate models run by NOAA’ Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory–the research facility which has also produced hurricane forecast models which helped so in improving the accuracy of hurricane track forecasts.

And have you seen the new U.S. Postal Service 2014 Earth Day postage stamp.  It featured an ocean temp map off one of our key supercomputer climate models run by NOAA' Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory--the research facility which has also produced hurricane forecast models which helped so in improving the accuracy of hurricane track forecasts. Photo courtesy of NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Photo courtesy of NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Showers on the way this evening – continuing overnight as a warm front approaches from the south and west

Check the weather radar map above – triggered by a warm front, a wide band of showers – possibly including a few isolated thunderstorms will spread east into northeast Illinois, southeast Wisconsin and northwest Indiana this evening with rain continuing off and on across the Chicago area much of the overnight hours.

Late this afternoon the warm front was located over eastern Nebraska across northern Missouri into southern Illinois. That front will slowly move east across Iowa tonight – at the same time slowly lifting north – probably moving through the Chicago area Thursday morning. Clouds will gradually increase and lower this evening, while winds shift from northeast to east and finally southeast late tonight. Initially this evening dew-points will be in the 20s, and rain falling from the clouds into the dry air will evaporate, but eventually the air will moisten enough for the rain to reach the ground.

Spring 2014′s familiar chill is back; 60% of days since March 1 have posted daily temp deficits

By Meteorologist Tom Skilling

Chicago temperatures this meteorological spring—the three month period from March 1 to May 31—have extended this past winter’s trend of cooler than normal temperatures. With the season more than half over, 60% of its days have posted temperature deficits.

The one way spring differs from this past winter is that it’s been dry.

The season ranks driest of any spring to date over the past 17 years! Its 2.99” observed precipitation (this includes rain and melted snow) is just 60% normal and down nearly 2 inches.

It’s a trend not limited to Chicago’s official observation station at O’Hare. Our analysis of precip tallies at Chicago area observation sites shows the same trend.

Surging temps Thursday and Friday belie the chill and strengthening winds due to take up residence over the coming weekend and spill over into next week

The chilly temperatures which dominated Wednesday are to ease  Thursday—and even more so Friday—as the current easterly wind regime off Lake Michigan gives way to more southerly Thursday afternoon and evening winds. That southerly flow is to transport Gulf moisture into the area providing fuel for shower and thunderstorm development Thursday afternoon into Thursday night.