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.
What is Chicago’s longest string of sub-freezing high temps in March?
— Anna P., Wilmette
Chicago’s normal high temperatures are on the rise in March, climbing from 40 degrees on March 1 to 53 degrees by the end of the month. But the arrival of spring warmth in the city is often delayed, and the month has logged its share of chilly weather. March 1960, the city’s coldest, opened very chilly, logging subfreezing temperatures on 17 days, including a record 14-day string from March 1-14.
During the two-week cold snap, high temperatures remained in the 20s on 10 days, the chilliest back-to-back highs of 21 on March 4-5.
Nights were also frigid, and though no subzero temperatures were recorded, overnight lows bottomed out in the single digits on four occasions.
No question that ice has captured the attention of many—including our contributing photographers, amateur and professional alike! Matthias Knobloch shares this Chicago lakefront ice shot with us taken while on approach to O’Hare
This wider lake ice shot comes to us from Jeffrey Anhock who’s was on a flight headed out of town to Florida for a visit with his grandparents
Snow was coming down at a good pace when Frank Willis snapped this photo in Godley, IL—70 miles southwest of Chicago Wednesday afternoon. Frank reports a 3” accumulation there
Jeanette Stout was on the ball in capturing this rain blasting through the fresh-fallen snow in Wanatah, IN.
Mona Bailey says he husband, just back from a haul out of Kentucky, showed her this ice formation on one of his semi’s tires.
Hang in there says Peter Yankala, who sent us this photo of a wintry looking Buckingham Fountain—asking us to speculate when it may return to operation
Look what Valparaiso University meteorology student Alyssa Romano photographed on her trip to Phoenix. The wave pattern you see in the clouds here is referred to as a KELVIN-HELMHOLTZ WAVE PATTERN–produced when higher wind velocities grind against slower moving air below generating waves which you see as regularly space curls in this cloud pattern. Very nice shot, Alyssa! Good eye!
Check this out–and hats off to the crew of the Coast Cutter Bristol Bay who on Tuesday found this dog stranded on the ice out of Lake St. Clair. The crew transported the dog to the ship and hoisted it aboard where it was provided food and first aid before being transferred to an area animal shelter for additional care.
We’re hardly the only spot which has seen a lot of snow this season. Pat Coppersmith was driving home from Michigan and stopped in Jackson MI and snapped a shot of this mammoth parking lot snow mound topped by shopping carts! Now this is some serious snow!!