Thunderstorms possible here today/tonight – risk of severe storms just to our southwest

Showers and scattered thunderstorms will be possible across northern Illinois, southeast Wisconsin and northwest Indiana today and tonight. The National Storm Prediction Center has determined a slight risk of severe thunderstorms will exist over portions of western Illinois, as well as extreme southern Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma (see yellow-shaded area on map below). The best chance of thunderstorms/severe storms in Illinois will be later this afternoon into the evening hours – the main risk in stronger Illinois storms being large hail and damaging winds.

A center of low pressure will move east-northeast out of the central plains today – tracking through northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin tonight. The associated cold front will sweep through the Chicago area around Midnight. Strong southerly winds gusting over 35 miles per hour will prevail ahead of the storm system .

 The first wave of showers and possibly a few thunderstorms will move through our area early this morning, then as the center of low pressure and cold front approaches and passes over the Mississippi River later this afternoon and evening, a stronger area of showers and thunderstorms is expected to develop over Illinois into Wisconsin.

Tim’s Weather World: Does a cold winter mean a cool spring and summer?

Elisabeth Benault

Elisabeth Benault

Will the spring and summer following a colder than average winter also tend to be cooler than average?   The winter of 2013-2014 was the 3rd coldest on record with an average temperature of 18.8°.   So far this spring has gotten off to a cool start.  18 of the first 25 days (72%) of this month have been below average.  March now ranks as the 18th coldest on record through the 25th of the month.  Does that mean our cold winter is spilling over into a cool spring and will that trend continue into summer?

The Chicago National Weather Service office crunched the numbers to see if there has been a correlation in the past.  They looked at the top 20 coldest winters on record and then the springs and summers that followed.

12 out of 20 springs that followed those coldest winters ended up being below average with seven of those springs ranking among the top 20 coldest springs on record.  So 60% of springs that followed colder than average winters ended up being cooler than average.

The bar graphs below show the departures from normal for the springs and summers that followed the top 20 coldest winters on record.

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The correlation is much stronger for a cooler than average summer following a colder than average winter.  80% of summers that followed the top 20 coldest winters ended up being cooler than average or 16 out 20 summers.

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Midway closes in on record snowfall

Only 2.9 inches of snow – that’s all Midway has to go to tie the all-time seasonal snowfall record of 89.7 inches set back in the 1978-79 season (Chicago snowfall observations go back to 1884). Midway picked up 0.9 inch overnight and O’Hare, our official observation site recorded 0.6 inch. O’Hare’s 2013-14 seasonal total now stands at 80.6 inches – third overall (we received 82.3 inches during the 1977-78 snow season.

The fast-moving cold front that triggered the band of snow last night has already moved into eastern Indiana, and cold Arctic high pressure is building into our area. The highest snowfall totals reported so far this morning were 1.0 inch at Downers Grove and Coal Valley.

Some area snowfall reports:

Location snowfall (Inches)
Downers Grove     1.0
Copal Valley          1.0
Midway                   0.9
Batavia                   0.8
Orland Hills            0.8
SE Chicago          0.7
O’Hare                   0.6
St. Charles            0.6
Bartlett                   0.6
Lockport               0.6
Geneva                 0.5
Palos Park           0.5
Elk Grove Village 0.5
Carol Stream       0.5
Bourbonnais        0.4
Elgin                     0.4
Dixon                    0.4
Beach Park         0.4
Roscoe                0.3
Inverness             0.3
Carbon Hill          0.3
Oak Park             0.2

Lake effect snow will taper and end as winds subside

Heavy lake effect snow squalls rolled into Cook and Lake (IN) counties shortly after 5AM Sunday morning dropping up to two inches of accumulation near the lakeshore.  Bursts of heavy snow occurred within 5 miles of the lake, resulting in very slick road conditions between 5AM and 7AM.  At 8AM, road conditions are gradually improving as the snow decreases in intensity and highway crews apply salt.

Ice coverage on the southern end of Lake Michigan has shrunk to 10% after peaking at 90% just two weeks ago.  Cold arctic air flowing over the open and relatively ice free lake water is responsible for today’s snow.

In sharp contrast to the clouds and snow downwind of the lake, most of Chicago’s north, northwest, west and southwest suburbs are waking up to sunshine this morning.

Here are a few snowfall reports from across the area:

1.5″ Chicago- Rogers Park

1.5″ Chicago- Loop

0.8″ Lincolnwood

0.7″ Chicago- Roscoe Village

0.5″ Hobart, IN

0.3″ Valparaiso, IN

0.2″ Chicago-Midway

0.2″ Porter, IN

0.1″ Gary, IN

BELOW:  Camera snapshots of some of Chicago’s snow covered streets and highways earlier this morning.

3.23 cam

Single-digit wind chills/scattered light snow this morning

Northeast winds have strengthened this morning – gusting to near 40 miles per hour and that combined with temperatures ranging from the upper teens north to mid 20s south has resulted in widespread single-digit wind chills across the Chicago area this morning. A band of scattered light snow and flurries was oriented west-east over the I-88/I-80 corridor and slowly drifting south.

A cold Canadian-source high pressure air mass centered over Lake Superior was sinking south while a center of low pressure in Arkansas was tracking east – tightening the pressure gradient across the Midwest and creating the strong winds. Cloudiness should break up and winds let up today as the center of high pressure approaches from the north.

Winds Chills at 5:15AM CDT this morning

wind chill 1