Scattered showers and a few thunderstorms possible this evening and overnight

Showers and a few embedded thunderstorms will precede and accompany a center of low pressure as it tracks east out of Missouri through central Illinois tonight on into Indiana early Friday. In the Chicago area, showers and possibly a few thunderstorms should spread into the area from the west late this afternoon/early evening and continue as the center of low pressure passes just to our south overnight.

Rainfall amounts should generally be a half-inch or less, although greater amounts under stronger thunderstorm downpours may occur. Strong southeast winds gusting over 30 miles per hour will continue in our area this evening – then swing more east to eventually northeast as the center of low pressure tracks east through central Illinois tonight.

By sunrise Friday, rain should be over in the Chicago area with the center of low pressure in central Indiana pulling away to the east. Winds Friday morning will be northwest 15 to 25 miles per hour here – gradually becoming more westerly as the day progresses.

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.