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.

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.

Warmest Easter in nearly 3 decades

Chicago’s cool spring redeemed itself Sunday by delivering to the city its warmest Easter in nearly 30 years, matching the 79-degree high logged on March 30, 1986. Areas west and south of the city topped 80 and even lakeshore communities reached 70 before cooling afternoon lake breezes set in. Another round of 70s is expected Monday, but a gathering overcast leading to periods of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening will put a damper on the day. Cooler weather returns for Tuesday and Wednesday as Canadian high pressure moves in. More showers and thunderstorms are possible Thursday as another storm system approaches from the plains. The expected precipitation will be beneficial with the growing season moving into high gear, as Chicago area rainfall has been spotty this spring coming off a very snowy winter.

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.

Chilly temps on area beaches to offer quite a contrast with Saturday’s milder inland readings for a 2nd day

Cool lake winds go to work on daytime highs in lakeshore areas Saturday while inland temps surge into the 60s. Area beachgoers will have to settle with low and mid 50s Saturday afternoon while west and southern sections of the Chicago area—the Fox Valley, DeKalb, McHenry County and Rockford to the west and Joliet, Kankakee and Renssalaer, IN to the south—watch afternoon readings surge into the mid to upper 60s.

It’s the 2nd consecutive day cool breezes off Lake Michigan are to produce noteworthy temp variations across the metro area.

Temps varied nearly 30-degrees from the lakeshore to warmest inland areas on Friday

A huge spread in temperatures developed across the area Friday. The coldest lakeshore readings reached no higher than 36-degrees there while Aurora (63), Kankakee (63), Rockford (61), Rensselaer, IN (63) and Joliet checked in with 61. Even warmer were the readings at Pontiac (66) and Morris (65).

Easter Sunday to be the warmest in 4 years

Even warmer temperatures are ahead Sunday with the arrival of well organized southerly winds which are to propel the day’s high temperatures to 75-degrees, making it this area’s warmest Easter in 4 years. Readings as warm as Sunday’s have been infrequent in recent Easters. Only 2 of the past 20 years have registered 70s on the holiday.

City to bask in warmest Easter since 2010

Afternoon temperatures across the Chicago area spanned about 25 degrees Friday afternoon ranging from the mild lower and middle 60s well inland to the chilly middle and upper 30s near the lake chilled by brisk onshore winds. A similar, but less dramatic scenario is on tap for Saturday with lakeside areas warming to near 50 as winds become southeasterly. Spring warmth will flourish across much of the area Easter Sunday as gusty south winds boost afternoon temperatures into the middle and upper 70s bring the city it warmest Easter since 2010 when the mercury peaked at 76 degrees. Dry weather is expected to prevail through the weekend with the first chance of precipitation coming in the form of showers and thunderstorms on Monday afternoon and evening ahead of an approaching cold front.

It’s Chicago’s “lake wind” season, a situation underscored by Friday and Saturday’s “NE” then “SE” winds

It’s a fact of life in Chicago during spring: winds blow off Lake Michigan nearly half the time. And since the lake waters have yet to recover from the chill of winter, those winds tend to be nippy.

The northeast flow which is to dominate Friday and Friday night arrived before daybreak with the passage of a cold front. That lake flow all but assures city and lakeshore residents they can forget a second consecutive day of 60-degree temperatures.

Rather than the 62-degree high recorded Thursday—the city’s ninth day of 60-degree or warmer temperatures this year—Friday highs are likely to reach no higher than the mid 50s inland while lakeside locations struggle just to make it to the mid to upper 40s. And, as the northeast flow strengthens Friday afternoon and evening, the expectation is afternoon and evening readings may trend lower, even in areas away from the lake.

Resurging warmth, southerly winds to propel Sunday highs into the 70s, making it the warmest Easter in 4 years

The upcoming Easter weekend is to be far from a complete meteorological loss. Precipitation is to be all but non-existent—at least not until late Sunday night and Monday. And temperatures, which are to remain cool near Lake Michigan Saturday, are to take off Sunday as southerly winds take hold.

Cool Friday – Weekend Warm-up ahead

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.

Temps headed to 60-degrees Thursday for the 9th time in 2014

By Meteorologist Tom Skilling

More seasonable temperatures return to Chicago Thursday building on Wednesday’s 52-degree high.

Coincident with the arrival of the city’s first day with a normal temp of 60-degrees, Thursday afternoon’s peak reading is also to hit 60. It marks only the 9th time this year that Chicago’s temperature has been as warm or warmer.

Late season Midwest snowstorm hits the North Woods hard; accumulations have topped 1ft.

The storm responsible for the gusty southerly winds which began raking the Chicago area Wednesday have helped propel milder air into this  area while fueling the latest snowstorm burying sections of the upper Midwest.

What’s interesting is that part of the area being lambasted by wind and snow across northern Wisconsin,  Minnesota and Upper Michigan, may, in a matter of just days, warm areas to within striking distance of 60-degrees later this coming Easter weekend.

Snow totals reported late Wednesday—with snow still coming down—had reached 13.5” Grantsburg, WI; 12.3” Spooner, WI; 10.5” Hinckley, MN; 10” Hayward and New Post, Wisconsin.

April 2014′s has had its share of cool days—but the month’s running 1.6-degrees ahead of last year

April, 2014’s has generated its share of cool temperatures. But, the month’s average temperature has moved into positive territory. It’s the first time that’s happened in any months since last October. Thus, while subtle, the road to the warmer temps of late spring and summer is clearly underway—an effort which can be expected to yield warmth with increasing frequency in the weeks and months to come—-but area residents shouldn’t be fooled. Lake Michigan is still cold and a wind shift off the chilly waters can— and will—generate cool temperatures until water temperatures warm.

Tuesday’s 38-degree April 15 “Tax Day” temp the coldest here in 86 years; readings flirt with records and 21-degrees below normal

By Meteorologist Tom Skilling

Tuesday’s 38-degree Chicago high temperature would have been right at home in February. The reading equals the “normal” high here on Feb. 22.

But the frigid 38-degree reading, 21-degrees below normal, occurred on “Tax Day” and was the coldest April 15 which has been observed here in the 86 years since 1928!

Daytime highs were actually higher in much of Alaska than in Chicago and adjacent areas of Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan—reaching levels close to 50-degrees at a number of locations across the 49th state.

Chicagoans didn’t shiver alone; records fell at a number of Upper Midwest locations; frost and freeze warnings issued for 24 states overnight

The abnormal chill wasn’t limited to Chicago Tuesday. Morning readings dipped to new records at International Falls, Minn.( 5 degrees), Sioux Falls, S.D. and Grand Forks, N.D. (11 degrees);  Watertown, S.D. (12 degrees) and at both Minneapolis, Minn. and Madison, Wisconsin (18 degrees).

Frost and freeze warnings were hoisted across 23 states south and east of Chicago—from eastern Oklahoma across much of the Deep South to New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

Tuesday highs averaged more than 20-degrees below normal south as far as Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

Only 4 other days beyond April 15 have generated daytime highs of 38-degrees or lower in over a half century at O’Hare 

Weather observations began at O’Hare in 1959. In all that time, temps of 38-degrees or lower have occurred beyond April 15 on only 4 other occasions.

Milder temps Wednesday and Thursday to yield to a chilly, new round of “NE” winds Friday

 Temps stage a modest recovery with the arrival of Wednesday’s powerful southerly winds. The “warming” may linger into a second day Thursday.  But a thermal downturn, prompted by the re-emergence of northeast winds Friday, is to render the “warming” short-lived.

Daytime highs Friday may remain in the 40s in areas close to Lake Michigan.

South winds Easter Sunday could send temps surging into the 60s

More significant warming is in the offing over the weekend—particularly Easter Sunday.  At that time, a new round of powerful southerly winds is to send temps back into the 60s.