It often takes the powerful winds of a large autumn storm to sweep warm air into Chicago this time of year. That’s precisely what happens Thursday in advance of the wind-driven and potentially thundery waves of rainfall expected to produce fall’s 2nd heaviest rainfall here Thursday night and Friday. An average of 30 computer rainfall projections suggests 1.19″ may fall before Friday closes — but predictions range as high as 2.57″. It will take only 0.6″ of additional rain to push the month into the ranks of Chicago’s 10 wettest Octobers on record over the past 139 years. At Wednesday’s close, October’s official O’Hare total stood at 4.63″.
Thursday’s strengthening southeast winds are predicted to gust to 30 mph by nightfall and are likely to grow even stronger at times Thursday night and Friday. They represent a key element of the approaching storm. Any thunderstorms which arrive within the storm’s expansive rain shield may well be able to harness energy from the 60-plus mph winds predicted just above the surface, transferring some of that wind energy down to the surface as powerful gusts.
Before the downpours get going late Thursday night, Chicagoans are in for something of a meteorological treat. Sunshine, in short supply this month — it’s been the 5th cloudiest October on record and the least sunny in a quarter century — should be abundant.
The day’s southeast winds sweep into North Shore suburbs after a trip over Lake Michigan’s cool waters. That’s a development expected to restrict highs in Waukegan and Kenosha to near 60 degrees while Chicago’s lakeshore reaches the mid 60s and some warmer south and southwest suburbs peak in the low 70s. The city has yet to log a 70-degree temperature this month, making it only the third October to do so since 1871.
Storm buries Colorado under 2-plus feet of snow;
threatening Plains severe weather outbreak
The storm behind Chicago’s two day “warm-up” has hammered the Rockies and western Plains with the region’s biggest snow this season. Totals late Wednesday had reached 35″ at Pinecliffe, 28.6″ near Nederland, 28.5″ just outside Golden and 14″ at Boulder — all in Colorado. The area just south of Denver was under a new 11″ snowpack as night fell Wednesday.
A severe weather outbreak threatens to the east in the storm’s front-side warm sector Thursday. Areas from Texas north to Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Missouri are at risk for damaging thunderstorm winds including possible tornadoes.
We’re planning an ocean-side vacation at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, and have become concerned about the tsunami threat. Any thoughts?
The catastrophic tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004, in the basin of the Indian Ocean raised worldwide awareness of the deadly potential of such occurrences. Your concern is justified because, despite the Indian Ocean event, the Pacific Ocean, in which Hawaii is located, is encircled by the notorious “Ring of Fire” and is the world’s most tsunami-prone ocean.
That said, be advised that Hawaii has had long experience with tsunamis and, with the National Weather Service’s “TsunamiReady Program,” has an excellent warning system in place. The Weather Service’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, located in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, with a staff of 15, maintains 24-hour vigilance.
Snow–described as powdery–has reached the knee-deep level at Colorado’s Snowmass–where the ski season opens in just 28 days. Melissa Rhines, who e-mailed us these shots, reported it was snowing heavily as she sent this around noon Wednesday. This should make snow-lovers and ski enthusiasts who travel to the Rockies very happy!
Photos courtesy of the Aspen Skiing Company, Snowmass, Colorado
Wild weather out West Tuesday offers a preview of things to come in Chicago–especially Thursday night when gusty thunderstorms capable of downpours arrive with a windy autumn storm. The storm system remains well west of the area Wednesday, and the day’s clouds and light rain are products of an entirely different disturbance. But, the western storm will make a move on the area beginning Thursday when it is to produce gradually strengthening southeast winds likely to send temperatures into the 60s–possibly as high as 70 degrees in warmer areas away from the lake.
It’s Thursday night when the storm’s most noteworthy impact may be felt here. A marriage of strong low-level southerly winds and a powerful 140 m.p.h. jet stream above sets up what amounts to an atmospheric conveyor belt expected to import Gulf moisture into the area. Thunderstorms are likely to erupt in this environment with clouds which tower into the powerful wind field aloft. Computer models place 60-plus mph winds within 2,000 feet of the ground. Any thunderstorms may tap these winds and channel them down to the ground as powerful wind gusts. More than an inch of rain may fall before drier air takes over Friday with partly sunny skies. A second day of 60s is a good bet Friday before colder air wrapping around the system’s back side sweeps over Chicago for the Halloween weekend.
The storm’s impact in the West Tuesday was widespread and quite dramatic. Winds gusted as high as 75 mph from California to Arizona, producing dust storm conditions responsible for brownouts and blackouts in the San Fernando and San Gabriel mountains, and visibility reductions to as little as a quarter-mile in sections of the Phoenix area. Las Vegas and Palm Springs each recorded 40-plus mph gusts, and the California Highway Patrol issued high wind advisories for the bridges around San Francisco. In the storm’s colder air, snowfall is predicted to reach 30 inches in the Colorado and Wyoming mountains.
Wet Octobers offer few clues on coming winter
With October on track to finish among the 10 wettest of the past 139 years here, concern over the coming winter grows. Yet, an in-house analysis of the winters which have followed Chicago’s 16 wettest Octobers indicates that 12 of those winters (75 percent) produced less snow than the long-term average. Snowfall in those 16 winters averaged 31.6 inches–only 86 percent of the long-term average of 36.6 inches.
How far back in time do Chicago weather records go?
Chicago official weather records date back as far as Oct. 15, 1870. Since
then the city¹s official weather station has moved numerous times. Through
1925 the city’s official readings were taken at a variety of downtown
locations. From 1926 through June 1942 the site of record was located on the
University of Chicago campus. In July 1942 it was moved to Midway Airport
where it remained until mid-January 1980 when it shifted to its current home at
O’Hare Airport. There are some sketchy weather records available before
1870, taken at Fort Dearborn located on the banks of the Chicago River near
Lake Michigan from 1832-1836. Some other sporadic records, mainly
temperature, were taken from 1859-1870 but were lost in the Great Chicago