Back-to-back Aprils on similar temperature track

The opening three weeks of April 2005 and 2006 have been delightfully mild. Last year, the city racked up nine days of 70º or higher including three days in the 80s, similar to our current eight days with two in the 80s. However, the warmth ended abruptly in 2005 with highs for the rest of that month mainly limited to the 40s and 50s.
Cooler weather is headed for the area again this year with weekend readings in the 60s heading down to the 50s by the middle of next week as winds turn northwesterly. The chilly weather may even bring a threat of frost to outlying areas by Wednesday morning. Such a cool-down is not unexpected this time of year: The city’s average date of the last sub-50º high is May 1.
Precipitation has been a different story: In April 2005, scant rainfall contributed to the start of last year’s drought, while frequent rains and even some flooding this year have significantly improved the area’s moisture deficit.
–Steve Kahn, WGN Weather Center Meteorologist

Mild spell continues, but cool down looms

Chicago’s mild April, the fifth warmest to date, will continue in that vein through the weekend with daytime highs continuing to average 5 to 10° above normal. However, by early next week a cold upper low over central Canada will sink south into the Great Lakes region putting at least a temporary hold on the balmy weather. By Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon readings should hover in the lower and middle 50s as brisk northwest winds and sun-blotting clouds make the temperature downturn even more noticeable.
Cooler weather has already arrived in Texas. The Dallas-Fort Worth area which recorded its highest April temperature on record a few days ago with a torrid 101º, could only muster a cool 72º high Thursday.
Late snowfall reports from this week’s South Dakota Black Hills’ blizzard are amazing. Final snowfall totals topped 6 ft. (74″) at Lead while Deadwood recorded more than 4 ft. (52″).
-Steve Kahn WGNTV Meteorologist

Spring blizzard buries Black Hills region

A raging late season blizzard dropped nearly four feet of snow on the Black Hills area of South Dakota Wednesday bringing traffic to a standstill as winds gusting to more than 70 m.p.h. piled the snow into huge drifts.
By late Wednesday, Deadwood, north of Rapid City had measured 46″ of snow.
In contrast, mild, tranquil weather prevailed in the Chicago area Wednesday with temperatures in the 70s and more of the same is on tap for today. The quiet pattern is providing a welcome change from an active severe weather season in Illinois. So far this year 44 twisters have struck in central Illinois, many in the Springfield area, compared to only 2 at this time in 2005. Two years ago on this date the weather was anything but quiet, as more than a dozen twisters swept areas from LaSalle County to Chicago’s southern suburbs, including the F3 Utica tornado that tragically took eight lives.
-Steve Kahn WGNTV Meteorologist

Spring-like here; blizzard in northern Plains

A sunny spring day prevailed across northeast Illinois yesterday while 60 mile per hour winds and heavy snow closed Interstate 94 in eastern Montana. At the same time several inches of heavy wet snow fell over western portions of the Dakotas as a strengthening low pressure system slowly drifted east. East winds traversed only a third the distance over the still cold (temperatures mostly in the 40s) Lake Michigan Tuesday than northeast winds did Monday (60 miles vs. 150 miles). Both days were sunny, but the shorter trek over the cold lake translated into significantly warmer temperatures across the metro area, especially inland. O’Hare for example recorded a 56° high Monday, then came in with a 10° warmer 66° high yesterday. Heat resulted in another day of record-breaking highs, but also contributed to another round of violent large hail-producing thunderstorms from Texas to Missouri and downstate Illinois.
-Paul Dailey WGNTV Meteorologist

After the rains clearing skies and flooding

Sunday’s storm totals in excess of 4″ in southern Cook County and extreme NW Lake County Indiana resulted in flooding in the Little Calumet River basin at Thornton, Munster, and South Holland. The river is expected to drop below flood level at those points today. The 5.13″ rainfall measured at Lansing was the highest official report.
High pressure brought clearing skies and east winds here with most readings failing to warm out of the 50s Monday. However in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas it was an entirely different story with numerous record highs observed, perhaps the most noteworthy the 101° at Dallas which was the warmest April temperature ever officially recorded at that city. A slowly approaching low pressure system will move into the western Great Lakes and influence Chicago weather by midweek giving cloudiness and periodic showers into the coming weekend.
-Paul Dailey WGNTV Meteorologist

40-degree spread ignites Easter thunderstorms

Temperatures across Illinois ranged from the damp and chilly upper 40s near Waukegan to the very warm and sultry upper 80s around St. Louis Sunday afternoon, setting the stage for violent thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. The sharp temperature contrast, mixed by a strong low pressure system working east across the state, developed wave after wave of thunderstorms—many of them severe. At least 17 twisters were reported in Illinois along with numerous reports of hail and strong winds. Golf-ball hail pelted the Aurora area, while stones larger than baseballs slammed downstate Normal. Torrential downpours brought nearly 3 inches of rain in about an hour, flooding roads east of Joliet near Beecher and south of Kankakee near Chatsworth.
Substantial rainfall soaked the Chicago area with totals through late evening approaching 1.5 inches in southern sections, while northern areas lagged—but the rain was still coming down.
–Steve Kahn, WGN Weather Center Meteorologist

Heavy rainfall threatens wettest Easter in 22 years

A storm system moving east from the Plains threatens to make Easter Sunday here pretty much of a washout.
Showers and thunderstorms should occur intermittently today before tapering off tonight. A brisk east wind off of chilly Lake Michigan will restrict temperatures to the 50s from the city north, but southern sections should see readings rise into the 60s. With moist air feeding into storm, precipitation totals in the city are expected to top the one inch mark and if this occurs Easter 2006 will be Chicago’s wettest since 1.43” of rain fell on April 22, 1984.
Hot air surged north ahead of the storm system Saturday afternoon setting record high temperatures through the southern Plains and Southeast. Wichita Falls, Texas took the heat honors with a sizzling record high of 102º. The storm also spawned numerous twisters in Kansas and Nebraska adding to this season’s growing totals.

Summer-level warmth/humidity fuels big storms

After breaking the 80° barrier for the second consecutive day, and with dew points rising into the 60s, the passage of a weak cold front Friday triggered late-afternoon and evening severe storms south of Interstate 80 and east into Indiana. There were numerous large hail reports, including tennis ball size at Milford in Iroquois County, golf ball size at Otterbein in Benton County, Ind., and monster grapefruit-size (4-1/4 inch) hail at Rochester in Fulton County, Ind. A possible tornado was reported in Ambia in Benton County, Ind.
Highs the past five days averaged more than 20 degrees above average. For the sixth consecutive day, highs were warmer than the previous day; that’s something that hasn’t happened here in nearly three years (June 2-8, 2003).
Friday’s warmth wasn’t limited to Illinois; including the 88° record high at Springfield, cities in 12 other states as far away as Texas, New York and the Carolinas also posted record highs for April 14.
–Paul Dailey, WGN Weather Center Meteorologist

Season’s first 80° readings possible today

With a strong southwest wind and abundant morning sunshine, northeast Illinois is poised for a quick warm-up into the 70s today. Depending upon how fast clouds develop and move over the area this afternoon, high temperatures in the lower 80s are a distinct possibility, especially in southern locations. Chicago’s long-standing 82° record high for this date (set 65 years ago) could be in jeopardy. This will be the 4th straight day with a high in the 70s which has occurred only nine other times so early in the season, and if forecasts prove correct this string could extend to 6 days by Saturday. Six consecutive 70° days this early in the year has occurred only once previously in 1921. Winds shift east Friday and temperatures will drop off, most noticeably in areas close to the lake. Meanwhile low pressure off the west coast will continue to pound northern and central California with downpours and heavy snow at higher elevations.
-Paul Dailey WGN Meteorologist

Lake Michigan down 5” from last year

Water levels on Lake Michigan have fallen 5” from April a year ago. Although seasonal warming cuts into evaporation from the lake and causes its water to expand, producing a temporary seasonal increase in lake levels, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers cautions mariners that lake levels are likely to wind up below last year’s during the upcoming boating season. Levels have fallen on the other Great Lakes as well, down 4 to 9” since last April. Waves of downpour-generating thunderstorms have largely bypassed the Great Lakes Basin from which precipitation drains into the Great Lakes.
Daytime 70s may dominate the rest of the week. Several computer model forecasts produce easterly winds off the lake Friday, a development which could impair warming if true. But, the forecast trend is indicated by only a handful of models at this time. It’s a period which will have to monitored.
-Tom Skilling