By Meteorologist Tom Skilling Weekend to produce far more dry than rainy hours–but a showery period not completely out of the question Saturday afternoon and night

By Meteorologist Tom Skilling

A good portion of the coming weekend is to remain rain-free–perfect for outdoor activity. But NOT 100 percent of it. There’s concern that at least some showers associated with an eastbound disturbance expected to track from Kansas across downstate Illinois and Indiana, may affect sections of the Chicago area by Saturday afternoon and night.  Peak areal rain coverage is expected to include up to 30 percent of the area and rainfall is not likely to be continuous—but it could be a factor for those planning outdoor activities.
Meteorological summer, with less than two weeks to run, now ranks as Chicago’s 22nd warmest of the past 140 years; 67 percent of its days have finished above normal!
The clock is ticking on meteorological summer here. The three month season runs through the end of August. It’s been a warm summer. The season’s average temperature for the June 1 through August 18 period has been 74.3-degrees, making this the 22nd warmest summer season on the books in 140 years of official observations dating back to 1871. That temperature is 2.7-degrees warmer than the long term average. 67 percent of the daytime high temperatures the over past two and a half months have averaged “above” normal.
Towering thunderstorms pound western Midwest/central Plains; Omaha raked with 100 mph gusts, 3-inch hail and blinding rains; airport closed
The blistering heat,  which has covered the southern Plains and had been unabated for months, fueled a powerful eruption of thunderstorms late Thursday across sections of 5 states. At one point, Doppler scans placed the system’s highest cloud towers to an altitude of 72,000 ft.

The storms hit Omaha, Nebraska with particular force generating 100 mph gusts and rain so heavy visibilities were slashed to 10-12 ft. Hail 3 inches in diameter pounded the area, striking a Southwest Airlines pilot standing in the skyway outside the company’s planes. He was transported to the hospital and was said to be conscious when he arrived.

17 flights were cancelled by Southwest and Eppley Airfield was shut down after two waves of severe weather swept through. Those on the ground wanted to examine critical equipment to make sure there had been no serious damage

One Plains storm cluster unleashes windshield-smashing hailstones, some 4.25 inches in diameter; nearly 200 hail reports filed with the Storm Prediction Center

Among the reports from Thursday’s storms were 64 mph gusts at Red Oak, Iowa and hail 4.25 inches in diameter which broke car windshields near Bloomfield, NE. Power poles were snapped by the force of the storms’ winds at McFall, MO.  
Chicago heads into the year’s 71 st day of 80s—well ahead of the average of 53
Chicago’s predicted 85-degree high Friday will bring to 71 the number of 80 degree or warmer days in 2010—well above the long term average of 53 to date.
Arizona thunderstorm “outflows” provoke new round of dust storms; Phoenix hits record 112-degrees before being  swept by dusty 70 mph gusts
A series of thunderstorm-outflow-induced dust storms swept southern Arizona again late Thursday. Phoenix, where the day’s high of 112 degrees established a new record, recorded 70 mph wind gusts which lifted dust high into the air cutting visibilities to near 0.


U.S. Severe Weather Season Update

Severeweather0330110003.gifBy Meteorologist
Tom Skilling

2011 tornado and severe weather reports across the Lower 48 running at 2 to 3.5 times last year’s pace

young 2011 severe weather season is continuing to produce severe
weather reports filed with NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) at 2 to
3.5 times last season’s pace. While only 714 reports were on file at
SPC this time last year, 2,523 had been logged by late Tuesday.