Spring 2014′s familiar chill is back; 60% of days since March 1 have posted daily temp deficits

By Meteorologist Tom Skilling

Chicago temperatures this meteorological spring—the three month period from March 1 to May 31—have extended this past winter’s trend of cooler than normal temperatures. With the season more than half over, 60% of its days have posted temperature deficits.

The one way spring differs from this past winter is that it’s been dry.

The season ranks driest of any spring to date over the past 17 years! Its 2.99” observed precipitation (this includes rain and melted snow) is just 60% normal and down nearly 2 inches.

It’s a trend not limited to Chicago’s official observation station at O’Hare. Our analysis of precip tallies at Chicago area observation sites shows the same trend.

Surging temps Thursday and Friday belie the chill and strengthening winds due to take up residence over the coming weekend and spill over into next week

The chilly temperatures which dominated Wednesday are to ease  Thursday—and even more so Friday—as the current easterly wind regime off Lake Michigan gives way to more southerly Thursday afternoon and evening winds. That southerly flow is to transport Gulf moisture into the area providing fuel for shower and thunderstorm development Thursday afternoon into Thursday night.

ASK TOM: Winter 2013-14′s cold temperatures

Dear Tom,

I believe this was among the coldest winters on record, and since Jan.1 this seems like one of the coldest starts to a calendar year in my memory.

— D. Baxter, Chicago

Dear D.,

Most area residents would agree with you. The winter (December through February) just ended ranks as Chicago’s fourth coldest. That’s the result of a computer scan of 144 winters in Chicago’s official temperature database (from the winter of 1870-71 through 2013-14).

With an average temperature of 18.8 degrees, it was 0.5 degrees warmer than the 18.3-degree average of the coldest winter, 1903-04.

And last winter’s chill has persisted into the spring. Through April 21, the average temperature for 2014 stands at 26.6 degrees, the city’s seventh coldest for that period (Jan. 1-April 21).  Coldest: 1875 at 25.0 degrees.

More weather snapshots

Lynn Xydas calls these Happy Buds on what looks like a pussy-willow tree. Photo courtesy of Lynn Xydas, Near Rolling Meadows, IL

Lynn Xydas calls these Happy Buds on what looks like a pussy-willow tree. Photo courtesy of Lynn Xydas, Near Rolling Meadows, IL

Michelle Henn shares this Hampshire sunset with us. Photo courtesy of Michelle Henn, Hampshire, IL

Michelle Henn shares this Hampshire sunset with us. Photo courtesy of Michelle Henn, Hampshire, IL

Shiela Conrad says this is fella is an unwanted hood ornament.  Photo courtesy of Sheila Conrad

Shiela Conrad says this is fella is an unwanted hood ornament. Photo courtesy of Sheila Conrad

Amanda Rauch sends us this shot of shafts of rain extending from the base of these shower clouds. Photo courtesy of Amanda Rauch, DeKalb, IL

Amanda Rauch sends us this shot of shafts of rain extending from the base of these shower clouds. Photo courtesy of Amanda Rauch, DeKalb, IL

Diane Rizzio calls attention to these sprouts which are poking their way through old leaves. Photo courtesy of Diane Rizzio

Diane Rizzio calls attention to these sprouts which are poking their way through old leaves. Photo courtesy of Diane Rizzio

Weather snapshots

Randy Benzie forwards us this shot of one of Monday afternoon's showers and thunderstorms---this one over Yorkville. Photo courtesy of Randy Benzie, Yorkville, IL

Randy Benzie forwards us this shot of one of Monday afternoon’s showers and thunderstorms—this one over Yorkville. Photo courtesy of Randy Benzie, Yorkville, IL

This gorgeous sunset over Third Lake comes to us from Nicole Esperson. Photo courtesy of Nicole Esperson, Third Lake, Illinois

This gorgeous sunset over Third Lake comes to us from Nicole Esperson. Photo courtesy of Nicole Esperson, Third Lake, Illinois

Nicole's sister and her fiance took a kayak out Monday evening to get a better look at that beautiful sunset and shot this photo while out on the lake. Photo courtesy of Nicole Esperson, Third Lake, Il

Nicole’s sister and her fiance took a kayak out Monday evening to get a better look at that beautiful sunset and shot this photo while out on the lake. Photo courtesy of Nicole Esperson, Third Lake, Il

Despite a mild weekend, 5 ft. of snow lines the roads in Wisconsin's North Woods near Land O Lakes.  Lee Ecker snapped this shot on the way to Easter Services Sunday. He reminds us 18" of snow fell there just last Thursday. Photo courtesy of Lee Ecker, Land O Lake's, Wisconsin

Despite a mild weekend, 5 ft. of snow lines the roads in Wisconsin’s North Woods near Land O Lakes. Lee Ecker snapped this shot on the way to Easter Services Sunday. He reminds us 18″ of snow fell there just last Thursday. Photo courtesy of Lee Ecker, Land O Lake’s, Wisconsin

And Lee points out that this mountainous mound of snow at the side of a parking lot off Main Street in Land O Lakes is apt to be there a while longer.  It's going to take a while to melt it!!  I think you're right, Lee. Photo courtesy of Lee Ecker, Land O Lakes, Wisconsin

And Lee points out that this mountainous mound of snow at the side of a parking lot off Main Street in Land O Lakes is apt to be there a while longer. It’s going to take a while to melt it!! I think you’re right, Lee. Photo courtesy of Lee Ecker, Land O Lakes, Wisconsin

It’s back to cool temps again the next 2 days; Tuesday’s pullback to send readings nearly 20-degrees lower than Monday’s

By Meteorologist Tom Skilling

Cool weather’s back in town the next 2 days. Tuesday’s chilly 50-degree northerly winds are to veer northeast Tuesday night and Wednesday, a development with all sorts of temperature implications here—the most evident among them the likelihood that easterly winds off Lake Michigan Wednesday may limit beach temperatures to the 40s.

Beyond the current cool down, temps are to rebound with afternoon highs reaching the mid to upper 60s before a wind shift to the northeast Friday night sends temps tumbling over the coming weekend.

Despite recent warmth, 2014 temps since Jan 1 are running at their chilliest levels in 32 years and 7th coolest of comparable periods 143 years ago here

Back-to-back 70s Easter Sunday and Monday haven’t been enough to boost 2014′s average temperature much. The period from January 1 through April 21 is the coldest in 32 years and ranks 7th-chilliest of the 143 years of observational records here in Chicago.

Chill over broad area of U.S. has 2014 tornado generation to date at the lowest level since at least 1953 

Never in 60 years of record keeping have so few U.S. tornadoes occurred by April 22. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center reported Monday that 2014′s tornado tally is the lowest which has occurred through April 21 in at least the past 60 years.

ASK TOM: Budding trees and cold spells

Dear Tom,

Are trees that begin sprouting after warm spells in March likely to suffer or be killed when cold spells occur after they have sprouted?

— Sharon North, Zion

Dear Sharon,

Probably not. That’s the word from Doris Taylor, plant information specialist at the Morton Arboretum. She says it would take a few weeks of abnormally mild temperatures in March followed by an outbreak of bitterly cold air (readings as low as zero degrees) to create serious problems for native trees.

Extended warmth in March would encourage magnolias, crab apple and other more sensitive trees to bloom earlier than usual. Their buds would not be harmed, but foliage would prove most vulnerable because those tissues are most sensitive. Other plants witha history of sprouting or blooming early deal with cold and snow quite successfully.

Weather snapshots

Some stunning sunrises and sunsets have graced the area over the weekend. Photographer Barry Butler sends us this shot which he identifies at an Easter Egg colored sunrise.Photos courtesy of Barry Butler, Chicago

Some stunning sunrises and sunsets have graced the area over the weekend. Photographer Barry Butler sends us this shot which he identifies at an Easter Egg colored sunrise.Photos courtesy of Barry Butler, Chicago

Patrick Pahl shares this beautiful sunset photographed from Grant Park, IL. Photo courtesy of Patrick Pahl, Grant Park, IL

Patrick Pahl shares this beautiful sunset photographed from Grant Park, IL. Photo courtesy of Patrick Pahl, Grant Park, IL

Several of you photographed coronas around the sun---different than halos in that they're formed when sunlight is refracted or bent passing through raindrops rather than ice crystals.  This shot comes from Dirk Leahy in Wauconda.  The bright illuminated circle of a corona is different than a halo because it touches the disk of the sun or moon whereas a halo is a bright circle of light which surrounds but doesn't touch the disc of the sun or moon. Photo courtesy of Dirk Leahy, Wauconda, IL

Several of you photographed coronas around the sun—different than halos in that they’re formed when sunlight is refracted or bent passing through raindrops rather than ice crystals. This shot comes from Dirk Leahy in Wauconda. The bright illuminated circle of a corona is different than a halo because it touches the disk of the sun or moon whereas a halo is a bright circle of light which surrounds but doesn’t touch the disc of the sun or moon. Photo courtesy of Dirk Leahy, Wauconda, IL

Controlled burns like this one near the home of storm chaser Brad Hruza in northwest suburban Elburn are conducted this time of year to eliminate fuel which may feed larger, more serious fires as summer comes on. Photo courtesy of Brad Hruza, Elburn, IL

Controlled burns like this one near the home of storm chaser Brad Hruza in northwest suburban Elburn are conducted this time of year to eliminate fuel which may feed larger, more serious fires as summer comes on. Photo courtesy of Brad Hruza, Elburn, IL

CHECK out this gorgeous Easter Sunday shot taken by Mike Zarnek at Chicago Botanic Garden yesterday. Photo courtesy of Mike Zarnek, Chicago Botanic Garden

CHECK out this gorgeous Easter Sunday shot taken by Mike Zarnek at Chicago Botanic Garden yesterday. Photo courtesy of Mike Zarnek, Chicago Botanic Garden

SUZIE FRITZ sends us this beautiful Mendota sunrise. Photo courtesy of Suzie Fritz, Mendota, IL

SUZIE FRITZ sends us this beautiful Mendota sunrise. Photo courtesy of Suzie Fritz, Mendota, IL

Lee Ecker sends us this shot and says “Here’s a pile of snow at the end of the parking lot off Main Street in Land O’Lakes Wisconsin which will be there a while! Photo courtesy of Lee Ecker, Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin

Lee Ecker sends us this shot and says “Here’s a pile of snow at the end of the parking lot off Main Street in Land O’Lakes Wisconsin which will be there a while! Photo courtesy of Lee Ecker, Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin

Janet Ellison sends us this shot of one of this afternoon’s showers and thunderstorms moving into Warrenville, IL. Janet Ellison, Warrenville, IL

Janet Ellison sends us this shot of one of this afternoon’s showers and thunderstorms moving into Warrenville, IL. Janet Ellison, Warrenville, IL

Lynn Xdas characterizes this as a magical sky over Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. A lot going on here, high and mid-level clouds with some embedded jet contrails. Photo courtesy of Lynn Xdas, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lynn Xdas characterizes this as a magical sky over Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. A lot going on here, high and mid-level clouds with some embedded jet contrails. Photo courtesy of Lynn Xdas, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Mark Olmsted shares this Easter Sunday sunrise over the Rock River near Rockford. Photo courtesy of Mark Olmsted, Over the Rock River near Rockford

Mark Olmsted shares this Easter Sunday sunrise over the Rock River near Rockford. Photo courtesy of Mark Olmsted, Over the Rock River near Rockford

Sunday’s 70s to bring warmest Easter in 4 years

By Meteorologist Steve Kahn

High temperatures are forecast to climb  into the 70s Sunday as  south winds and ample sunshine deliver holiday warmth. Winds cutting in off chilly Lake Michigan, however, will keep areas along the north lakeshore a bit cooler.  It should be the city’s warmest Easter in four years since a 76-degree high on April  4, 2010.

 A cool-down will follow the passage of a cold front Monday, which will be accompanied by showers and thunderstorms. Despite the Chicago area’s very snowy winter, precipitation since March 1 is running  about 1.5 inches below normal.  A return to cooler weather is expected Tuesday and Wednesday before another round of showers and thunderstorms arrives Thursday setting the stage for a chilly weekend with temperatures forecast to only reach the lower 50s Saturday.