Tim's Weather World: Deja vu this winter?

Fall has just begun but why not peak ahead at the early outlook for this winter?  Could we be in for a repeat of last winter? The winter of 2011-2012 was a fairly dry, mild winter overall.  It ranked as the 9th warmest winter of the past 142.  It was the 48th least snowiest winter of 128.  Early indications from the Climate Prediction Center have us outlooked for above average temperatures.  The bulls eye of the 40% or more probability of a milder than average winter is centered right over Illinois and Indiana.



The outlook for precipitation isn’t quite as clear.  It would seem to adjust suggest a winter similar to last year for most of the area with snowfall less than average.  Extreme northern and northwestern Illinois is not included in area outlooked with a 33% or higher probability of below average precipitation.

 Finally, the Farmers’ Almanac has released its outlook for this upcoming winter season.  Here is a quote:


For the coming season, we’re predicting that winter will return to some – but not all – areas. We think it will be a “winter of contraries, as if Old Man Winter were cutting the country in half. The eastern half of the country will see plenty of cold and snow. The western half will experience relatively warm and dry condition. In other words, as in the political arena, the climate this winter will render us a nation divided.


According to the almanac the midwest will be “cold & snowy”. 
Take all this with several grains of salt though.  It was about this time last year most outlooks were calling for a brutal winter with below average temperatures and above average snowfall and we now know how that turned out.



Day four of dry weather, and counting

It’s rare when Chicago’s forecast calls for dry weather through the entire seven-day forecast cycle, but that’s currently the case: bone-dry conditions are expected through Tuesday (Oct. 2). Rain last fell here on Sept. 22 and, should rain-free conditions persist for a week, the dry spell will have extended to 10 consecutive days — noteworthy, but hardly challenging the record run of 30 dry days, Jan. 7-Feb. 5, 1919.


The dry spell is occurring compliments of a fair-weather high pressure cell that has settled across the Midwest and will hang around for several days. But while Chicago was experiencing tranquil weather Tuesday, that was not the case downstate. Severe thunderstorms drawing energy from humid air just beyond the south periphery of the area of high pressure generated at least one mid-afternoon tornado at Damiansville, Ill., 300 miles to the south of Chicago.

ASK TOM: Nation's highest temperatures

Dear Tom,

 I have noticed that Death Valley, Calif., has started showing up in the daily listing of the nation’s highest temperature. I thought there was a minimum population requirement in order to be considered. Have the criteria changed?

— Fritz Petzold


Dear Fritz,

The National Weather Service, which provides the daily listing of the national temperature extremes, has established strict guidelines.


Here are the rules: Only locations in the contiguous 48 states are considered (thus omitting Alaska and Hawaii); the site must lie at an elevation below 8,500 feet; and the report must come from an area with a population of at least 1,000. However, if the temperature at a sparsely populated location (such as Death Valley) tops 120 degrees, the population requirement will be waived.

The best of September

Geographer Dr. George Kimble once remarked with considerable hyperbole that “.. whether you consider it from the standpoint of temperature, rainfall, wind, or weather, September is a month of many virtues and few vices.” Although Chicago’s September weather records provide numerous examples that contradict Kimble’s optimistic assessment of the month, the current 7-day forecast cycle assuredly supports it. Sunny, pleasant and seasonably mild days and fair, cool nights are anticipated through the weekend, compliments of high pressure that will dominate our weather during that period. But while Chicagoans relish the best that September has to offer, persistently rainy weather is expected across central Illinois through much of the week, the result of a stalled frontal boundary separating dry air to the north from moist air to the south.

ASK TOM: Global warming

Dear Tom,
Is global warming occurring?
–Eric Eulberg
Dear Eric,
The consensus of experts in the earth sciences and environmental and biological sciences is that global warming is a reality — a reality supported by direct observation and direct measurement. Averaged across the Earth’s entire land and water surface, ocean and air temperatures are increasing, glaciers are in retreat, permafrost is thawing, the sea level is rising (because land ice is melting and warming water is experiencing thermal expansion), spring arrives earlier and autumn lasts longer, and growing seasons are lengthening. The ranges of cold-loving flora and fauna are retreating poleward and the ranges of warm-loving species are expanding. The major subject of debate: man’s role in the warming.