By Meteorologist Tom Skilling
January 2012 closes as it began: Unseasonably mild; Monday’s 53-degree city high, mildest in 3 weeks, misses the record by 2 degrees!
Temperatures in Chicago Monday, which missed the 1988 record by just 2-degrees, may well top the official April-level 53-degree high Tuesday—hitting the mid 50s. The meteorological wildcard Tuesday is the speed at which clouds spread over area skies as powerful southwest winds with Gulf moisture in tow, make their way into the Chicago area. Clouds are expected to extinguish morning sunshine upon their lunchtime and afternoon arrival.
It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see a few typically milder locations across the Chicago area flirt with 60-degrees.
Tuesday’s predicted high of 54 at O’Hare would be 22-degrees above normal and the mildest reading here in nearly three weeks. It would also equal April 2nd’s “normal” high!
The latest round of unseasonable warmth comes at the end of a month expected to finish nearly 6-degrees above normal when it ends Tuesday night at midnight.
The opening two months of meteorological winter season, which began December 1, has been this area’s mildest in 78 years and has featured the fewest number of days with an inch of snow on the ground—just 7 of them—in 23 years.
Monday’s 53-degree high marked the ninth time this winter season a daytime reading has reached or exceeded 50-degrees. Over the years, an average of only half as many 50-degree days have occurred by January’s close. And just two other winter seasons over the past 32 years (dating back to the 1980-81 cold season) have produced a greater number of 50-degree or higher readings by Jan. 31: Winter 2001-02 and the 2006-07 season.
60-degree temperatures as close as Peru and Peoria; St. Louis and Kansas city top out at 67-degrees
Spring-like 60-degree temperatures weren’t all that far away Monday. 60-degree highs occurred as close Peoria and the Quad Cities—each record-breaking readings.. Farther south and west, St. Louis and Kansas City topped out at 67-degrees.
Scope of Monday’s above normal temperatures breathtaking; the mild weather across the Lower 48 extended nearly coast to coast; readings in the 60s to near 70 broke records Monday across 6 states
Temperatures were milder than normal from coast to coast across the Lower 48 Monday. A Penn State meteorology department analysis of afternoon readings Monday afternoon put temperatures at nearly every weather station from eastern Montana across the Plains and into Illinois and southern Wisconsin within the warmest 10 percent of temperatures observed this time of the year from 1981 through 2010.
Highs in the 60s to around 70 established new records across 6 mid-U.S. states. Among the new record highs were:
70-degrees Topeka and Russell, Kansas,
69-degrees Grand Island, Nebraska
67-degrees St. Louis
67-degrees Norfolk, Nebraska
66-degrees Joplin, Missouri
65-degrees Vichy-Rolla, Missouri
65-degrees Sioux City and Ottumwa, Iowa
63 Lamoni, Iowa
60 Peoria, Illinois
49-degrees Sisseton, South Dakota
January’s temperatures finish 5 to 14-degrees higher than a year ago across the entire Midwest; month to finish 6-degrees above normal in Chicago
The uniformity of above normal temperatures in January 2012 from one corner of the Midwest to another was stunning. The region’s average temperatures are to finish an impressive 6-degrees above normal upon the month’s close, a departure which means this past month’s temperatures have run 5 to as much as 14-degrees above January a year ago
Small earthquake hits near Illinois/Wisconsin border around 9:54 pm; prompts calls from anxious residents; USGS reports trembler only a 2.4 on Richter Scale
Reports that an earthquake may have occurred began arriving in our WGN/Chicago Tribune weather office and our WGN-TV news desk around 10 p.m. from a range of communities, most of them north of Chicago. There was initially NO confirmation from the U.S. Geological Survey—the agency which monitors the country’s earthquake activity.
Our check with area police departments indicated they had received scores of calls from concerned residents who had noticed the minor quake—and, sure enough, official word was soon to follow around 11 pm from USGS that a tiny quake had indeed occurred. The agency reported that a small 2.4 Richter Scale quake was measured, emanating 6.2 miles below the surface close to the Wisconsin/Illinois border 11 miles southwest of Kenosha, WI and 14 miles northwest of Waukegan.
Such quakes are small enough to be missed by many—but others reported to us that the trembler was QUITE noticeable to them and that it had made what was frequently described as a deep rumbling sound.
Alaska shivering through month-long cold wave; Interior temps down to 66-below in recent days; Fairbanks average January temp of 26.4-below, more than 18-degrees below normal!
While January’s abnormal warmth had dominated weather cover across much of the Lower 48, brutally cold air has gripped Alaska nearly the entire month, producing temperatures as low as 66-degrees below zero Monday morning near Ft. Yukon, Alaska and 64-below at the Kandik River COOP observation site in the state’s Interior. Other lows included 60-below at Manley Hot Springs, 54-below at Nenana and 51-below at Fairbanks.
The month’s average temperature of 26.4-below at Fairbanks is 18.4-degrees below normal. Farther south in Anchorage in the south-central section of the state, January’s 23-degree average temperature, while cold, is nearly 4-degrees above normal.
End of week central U.S. storm system being monitored; rain could switch to wet snow between Friday afternoon and Saturday
A storm system, forecast to take shape in the Plains later this week, is being monitored as a possible precipitation producer here in Chicago. The disturbance is arrive amid colder temperatures and strengthening east to northeast winds later Friday into Saturday. It could bring drizzle or sprinkles to the area Friday morning which would build to steadier rain, mixing with ice pellets and possible snow Friday night—then possibly switching to wet snow for a time Saturday.
Many details are only beginning to come into view—but it’s definitely a system we’ll be watching and reporting on in coming days!