First day of meteorological winter – feels like early October

Saturday marks the first day of meteorological winter, and the next few days will feel more like early October with daily high temperatures in the 60s. Most of this coming week, the mean upper-level west to east-oriented jet stream flow along the U.S.-Canadian border will trap bitterly cold arctic air far to the north. The Canadian Tundra is observing 40-degrees below temperatures with regularity, while here we are in Chicago, potentially some 100-degrees warmer!! The National Weather Service 8 to 14-day outlook does indicate a change in the offing beginning next weekend when a shift of the Jet stream to a more northerly flow may allow the southern tip of southward-moving Arctic air mass to reach this area, possibly triggering our first measurable snow this winter season. It has been a near-record long stretch since Chicago’s last measurable snow – 0.3 inch – was recorded at Chicago’s official O’Hare observing site last March 4th., 271 days as of Friday with the record 280 consecutive days set back in 1994 (see today’s Ask Tom Why).

Sunshine record eclipsed
A long-standing Chicago sunshine record has already been shattered. Veteran Chicago weather observer Frank Wachowski reports that November sunshine averaged 61 percent – far above the month’s normal 42 percent. This marked our 14th consecutive month with above-normal sunshine, eclipsing the old 13-consecutive above-normal sunshine period set back in December 1935-December 1936. The abundant sunshine also goes along with the not-so-enviable sub-normal rainfall the Midwest and Great Lakes has experienced which had the Lake Michigan water levels tieing the all-time record November low – records go back 94 years. Also barge traffic has been threatened because of near-record low flow on the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri and Cairo, Illinois.

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