Severe thunderstorm watch #124 continues in effect for portions of northwest and north central Illinois until 4am Severe thunderstorm warning issued for Jo Daviess County in far northwest Illinois

UPDATE:12:15am
1/2 inch hail reported at Epworth, Iowa west of Dubuque at 12:05 am.
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Thunderstorms with a history of producing large hail and heavy downpours continue to fire in eastern Iowa and far western Illinois. Just before midnight some of the strongest storms are along a line from just west of Dubuque, southeast through the Quad Cities towards Galesburg and Peoria.
A severe thunderstorm warning has just been issued for Jo Daviess County in far northwest Illinois until 12:45 am.
The severe thunderstorm watch #124 extends east into the far western portions of the Chicago Metro area including Boone, Dekalb and La Salle counties.

Storms continue to develop- hail reported in the Quad Cities

Severe thunderstorms continue to develop in eastern Iowa late this evening and are approaching northwest Illinois. Small hail has been reported near Eldridge, Iowa just west of Davenport.  

Very large hail between golf ball and tennis size pounded areas near Clarence Iowa located in Cedar County between Cedar Rapids and Davenport shortly after 10:30 pm . 
The current trajectory of these storms will take them southeast into Illinois along a corridor from the Quad Cities to north of Peoria.
The storms could be affecting the I-39 corridor well after midnight. It appears that the greatest threat from these severe thunderstorms will be large hail and heavy rain. Lowden, Iowa received 1.30 inches of rain in about an hour.  

Strong thunderstorm rapidly developing around Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Thunderstorms have developed rapidly in eastern Iowa, especially in the Cedar Rapids area. One inch diameter hail was reported covering the ground in the Cedar Rapids area around 9:45 pm.
Currently the storms are moving to the southeast at 35 mph. More development is expected overnight as warm and moist air continues to advance into the area on a strengthening low-level winds.

Severe thunderstorm watch hoisted for portions of northwest and north central Illinois- it DOES NOT not include the immediate Chicago area

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The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma has issued Severe Thunderstorm Watch # 124 for areas west and southwest of Chicago, valid until 4am CDT Sunday morning
The watch does include the city of Rockford and the I-39 corridor.
URGENT – IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH NUMBER 124
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
925 PM CDT SAT MAR 31 2012
THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF
EAST CENTRAL IOWA
NORTHWEST ILLINOIS
EFFECTIVE THIS SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING FROM 925 PM
UNTIL 400 AM CDT.
HAIL TO 1.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER…THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70
MPH…AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.
THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 55
STATUTE MILES NORTH AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM 5 MILES SOUTHWEST OF
CEDAR RAPIDS IOWA TO 5 MILES EAST NORTHEAST OF MARSEILLES
ILLINOIS. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE
ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU4).
REMEMBER…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE
FAVORABLE FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN AND OCCASIONALLY
DO PRODUCE TORNADOES.

Lake-chilled air to dominate April's opening week here

By Meteorologist Steve Kahn

As a spectacularly warm March 2012 enters the record books as the city’s all-time warmest March–with an average temperature of 53.5 degrees—April’s opening week may prove a bit disappointing as lake-chilled air deprives the city of more early-season warmth. Another round of record-breaking warmth that sent temperatures into the 80s and rare lower 90s across the Plains Saturday appeared headed for Chicago Sunday, but a combination of expected overnight and early-morning thunderstorms, clouds, and winds off of 50-degree Lake Michigan, will likely confine the 80-degree warmth to the far west and south portions of the metro area, while temperatures in the city struggle to reach 70 degrees. The warm air will attempt make another assault on the city Monday, with readings potentially reaching the middle 70s before a sustained period of northeast and east winds arrives, confining city temperatures to the 50s and lower 60s  for the the rest of the week.
 
 

ASK TOM WHY: March 1983 temps in Chicago

Dear Tom,
During our recent March warmth you wrote about the warmth in March 1983. Didn’t it turn cold after that? I think we had a cold Mother’s Day. Am I correct?

—Joel Losch, Round Lake

Dear Joel,
March 2-7, 1983 was spectacularly mild, with two days in the 60s and four in the 70s. Unlike this year the month turned wintry with subfreezing high temperatures, lows in the teens and 9 inches of snow. Mild weather returned, but Mother’s Day (May 8) was chilly, with a high of 48. What is most memorable about 1983′s weather was the summer. The summer of 1983 turned out to be a hot one with the mercury climbing to 90 degrees or higher on 42 days, including a nine-day string from July 14-22 and two days of triple-digit heat on July 22 and 28.

Northbound warm front to sweep summer-like southwesterly winds into the metro area late Saturday night into Sunday

By Meteorologist Tom Skilling

    Warmer air is on the move again! Chicagoans will begin feeling it late Saturday night as winds shift from the east to the south with the passage of a warm front. 
    Overnight readings are expected to begin cycling higher once this takes place.  By morning, temperatures are likely to have climbed into the low and mid 50s–ultimately bound for the low 80s.

 
March’s warmth not limited to Chicago; expanse and intensity of the month’s warmth across the Midwest quite remarkable!
 
    The books close at midnight Saturday night on a phenomenal March here in Chicago and across the Midwest–one which is all but certain to become this area’s warmest on record. 
    The month has set 16 new high and low temperature records in Chicago alone and logged a 53.8-degree average-temperature, a reading 15.8-degrees above normal and nearly 5.2-degrees warmer than the previous warmest March 67 years ago in 1945.
     Cities across the Midwest are logging similarly huge monthly temperature anomalies and it’s likely many will join Chicago in posting the warmest March temperatures on record.

 
Sunday–April 2012′s opening day–to produce 80s. That’s no April Fool’s joke! But temp plunge not far behind north half of the metro area Sunday afternoon
 
    The surge of warm air which carries area temperatures into the 80s is likely to be interrupted mid and late Sunday afternoon by a cold front expected to sweep into the area from the north. The day’s southwest winds are likely to shift abruptly to the northeast producing a swift temperature drop of as much as 20-degrees. The front is to drop south to Chicago then stall Sunday night and Monday, setting up a huge north-to-south temperature gradient (variation) which is likely to amount to more than 30-degrees on Monday.
     Northern lakeshore communities may see temperatures no higher than the 50s then while south suburban locations (i.e., Morris, Joliet, Kankakee, and Valparaiso) could register mid 80s.
     A boundary as sharp as that one is likely to become the focus of thunderstorm development at times. Given the amount of moisture predicted to be in the air by that time, some of these storms may become capable of downpours and will have to be monitored.

Unseasonable warmth to march right into April

By Meteorologist Steve Kahn

The books will close on an historically warm March Saturday, by far the city’s warmest on record, shattering the month’s previous record high of 48.6 degrees set in 1945 by more than 5 degrees. Following a round of showers and thunderstorms on Saturday night, a new surge of unseasonable warmth will sweep into the city Sunday as gusty south winds boost temperatures to around 80, though areas along the north lakeshore could be cooler with readings there holding in the upper 60s. More 80s are possible on Monday across the southern portions of the Chicago Metro area though it will be considerably cooler across the north as winds cutting in off of Lake Michigan north of a stalled frontal boundary limit highs there to the upper 50s or lower 60s. The sharply contrasting temperatures in conjunction with an approaching cold front could trigger active thunderstorms Monday afternoon and evening placing the area at a risk for severe weather. Seasonably temperatures will follow the rest of the week with the next round of warm weather slated for next weekend.

ASK TOM WHY: Has Chicago ever experienced a storm like Buffalo's devastating blizzard of 1977?

Dear Tom,

A friend of mine is writing a memoir of Buffalo’s devastating blizzard of 1977. Has Chicago ever experienced a storm like that?

– Laura Roetzer, St. Charles

Dear Laura,

While Chicago has been hit with storms that were worse for a shorter time than the 1977 Buffalo blizzard, like the 1967 Big Snow and last year’s Groundhog Day blizzard, the city has never experienced a storm of that severity and duration. Twenty-nine people died as the storm raged from Jan. 28-Feb. 1, consistently delivering wind gusts in excess of 50 mph that dropped the wind chill as low as minus 60. Just 12 inches of snow fell during the storm, but the onslaught of gale-force west winds blew the deep snow on frozen Lake Erie into Buffalo, burying the city in drifts as high as rooftops and shutting the city down for more than a week.