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.
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.
Scattered clusters and short lines of showers and a few thunderstorms will occur over northern and central Illinois into southeastern Wisconsin and northwestern Indiana this evening. By late afternoon the cold front was moving out of eastern Iowa into northwestern Illinois, accompanied and preceded by the shows and thunderstorms.
Locally brief heavy downpours will be likely in some of the stronger thunderstorms along with the possibility of isolated small hail, gusty winds and lightning. Severe storms are not expected to develop.
The cold front will make its way east, probably reaching our western suburbs by mid-evening – passing through Chicago before or around midnight. Showers and thunderstorms will gradually end as the front passes a given point. Generally lighter rains will occur to the north and heavier rainfall – perhaps as much as an inch at some locations in central and southern sections.
Cool Canadian high pressure will settle over the Chicago area Friday. A northeast breeze will keep readings along the lake front in the 40’s while farther inland afternoon temperatures will reach into the lower or middle 50’s. Easterly flow will persist into the morning hours Saturday and then as winds become more southerly in the afternoon temperatures will peak in the middle 60’s- some 10 to 12 degrees warmer than Thursday.
Southwesterly flow will strengthen Saturday night and continue Easter Sunday. Despite increasing cloudiness, Sunday’s afternoon highs will reach the middle 70’s – one of the warmest readings so far this year. With the approach of a cold front from the west, showers and thunderstorms could spread into the Chicago area late in the day and continue Sunday night. Periodic showers and thunderstorms and mild temperatures will probably continue Monday before the cold front finally passes through our area Monday night.
Strong southwesterly low-level flow will pull warm moist unstable air into Illinois and southern Wisconsin today. There is a threat of severe thunderstorm development later this afternoon over the Chicago area with the best chance this evening into the overnight hours. Large hail and strong damaging winds will accompany heavy downpours in the stronger storms.
Low pressure will move northeast through Iowa today into central Wisconsin tonight. The associated cold front will move out of eastern Iowa into northwest Illinois in that same time frame, triggering showers and thunderstorm development in the warm moist air mass over northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
The National Storm Prediction Center outlook for severe thunderstorms Saturday and Saturday night is depicted in the yellow-shaded area on the map below.
Southwesterly winds gradually strengthen during the day Saturday, pulling warm moist air into the Chicago area. Winds will be gusting over 25 miles per hour in the afternoon, as temperatures peak in the middle 70s – easily the warmest day so far this year, the second consecutive 70-degree day (Friday’s official high was 70-degrees), and the warmest temperature since 76-degrees was recorded back last October 11. Dew-points will be on the increase, and the added low-level moisture combined with developing wind shear, a cold front approaching from the west and an increasingly more unstable air mass – all point toward a good chance of strong severe thunderstorm development over Illinois into southern Wisconsin later in the afternoon and Saturday night.
Waves of showers and occasional thunderstorm downpours should occur from Saturday night, through Sunday into early Monday. During this period rainfall could total well over two-inches at many northeast Illinois locations – perhaps even exceeding three-inches in spots. Much colder air will follow on the wings of strong north to northeast winds later Sunday into Monday – temperature drops of 25 to 30-degrees will be common.
Strong southwesterly low-level flow will pull warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico north up the Mississippi River Valley into Illinois Saturday. As temperatures rise into the 70s here Saturday afternoon, dew points will jump into the 50s. With a cold front approaching from the west and an upper–air disturbance aloft, atmospheric conditions will be ripe for strong thunderstorm development across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin Saturday night.
Sunday we could be on the northern edge of potentially severe storms later in the afternoon and at night. If the warmth can persist into the evening hours Sunday, the moisture-laden air would be primed for a second round of severe storms that might include central and northern Illinois. The preliminary map below show the severe storm potential just reaching into southwest Illinois Sunday.
The maps below issued by the National Storm Prediction Center outline the preliminary outlook area included under a slight chance of severe storms in yellow for Saturday (top map) and Sunday (bottom map).
Slight chnce of severe weather Saturday…
Slight chance of severe storms Sunday…
Update 8:15AM CDT…
The occluded front is through the Chicago area (note north-south oriented arcing cloud/precipitation band shown on weather radar picture above). The low pressure center is moving out of southeast Wisconsin headed over Lake Michigan – pulling away from our area. Visibility is on the rise and winds are picking up out of the southwest.
The winds will continue to increase and become more westerly and then west-northwesterly with time today – gusting over 40 miles per hour at their peak this afternoon. Winds will gradually diminish tonight.
Update 7:15AM CDT...…
At 7AM CDT the center of low pressure is just along the Illinois-Wisconsin line north of Rockford continuing an eastward movement. The associated occluded front will be swinging through the Chicago area from the west during the next hour. As the front passes a given point, visibility will slowly improve and winds will shift to the southwest. As the morning progresses, winds will become more westerly and pick up in speed. This afternoon west to northwest winds will be gusting at times over 40 miles per hour.
Map of 7AM CDT Chicago area visibility
The slow-moving center of low pressure and associated occluded front will slowly drifts east through northern Illinois this morning. Light rain and drizzle along with foggy cool conditions will prevail across the Chicago area. Visibility will be lower than a quarter mile in spots as easterly winds will eventually shift to a strengthening west wind this morning. Once winds shift, visibility will pick up along with the wind speed and rain/drizzle will diminish. The day’s high temperatures will probably not be much more than the low 40s experienced this morning.
Below is a map of visibility as of 4AM.
Most of the storm system energy seems to be increasingly concentrated on southern Illinois and western Kentucky as the evening progresses. Thus the threat of severe storms approaching the Chicago area has diminished significantly. Rain with a chance of thunder is still expected to develop across our area later tonight as the low pressure center and warm front approach from the southwest.
However the lack of strong convective activity this far north has allowed cooling to occur with temperatures dropping into the middle and upper 30s, while a slow low-level moisture increase continues. As a result the approach of the warm front is triggering fog formation across our area. Note on the map below, visibility at O’Hare Airport was down to ½ mile at 9PM CDT.