After a high of 45 degrees and a low of 39 degrees Friday, this October still ranks in the top three coldest in Chicago records dating to 1871. Today will not be much different, but warmer days are just ahead. Saturday will mark the 20th consecutive day with below-normal temperatures in Chicago and while warmer, Sunday will make it 21–but Monday could finally signal the return of above-normal 70-degree readings. A shift in the upper-air jet stream pattern will allow the return of warming southwesterly winds to northeastern Illinois for the first time this month. Low pressure will bring showers and thunderstorms midweek followed by a brief turn to cooler weather later in the week.
Miami registered its hottest readings ever (94 degrees) for so late in the season Friday, marking an October record 13th straight 90-degree-plus day. At the same time northern Pennsylvania was digging out of a heavy, wet 5- to 9-inch snow with additional snow forecast to hit later Saturday night and early Sunday.
Do you happen to know the derivation of “blizzard”?
It’s a relatively recent word, and it originated in the United States or England. By the early 1800s in this country, blizzard meant a cannon shot, a rapid volley of musket fire or a severe blow. Frontiersman Davey Crockett (1786-1836) was described as “speaking a blizzard” (a verbal blast) during a dinner speech and, on another occasion, taking a blizzard (a volley of shots) at a deer.
At about the same time in the English Midlands, blizzer referred to a severe wind and snow storm.
The first documented published uses of blizzard appeared in a few newspapers in Iowa in March and April of 1870 to describe a fierce winter storm in that area. Thereafter, blizzard came to be recognized as descriptive of a severe, wind-driven snowstorm.
What an October! Cool weather is well into its third week and still has two days to run. Gusty northeast to north winds and a steep 30-degree temperature drop in the first mile of the atmosphere set the stage for lake-effect rain showers Friday into Saturday evening before sunshine returns Sunday for the first time in more than week. The warming which follows arrives on gusty southerly winds Monday and Tuesday sending temperatures into recovery mode and boosting readings here to their mildest levels in three weeks.
Thursday’s temperatures were anything but mild–and would have been at home in late November. The day’s 44-degree official high equaled readings observed here for the date in 1876, 1909 and 1943–each tying as Oct. 15′s coldest on record. The tenacious cold spell–which is to last into Sunday morning before breaking–produces a 19th day of below normal temperatures Friday and limits highs to the 40s for a 7th consecutive day–the most ever so early in the season. Chicago’s average temperature over the month’s first 15 days slipped Thursday to 47.3-degrees—the city’s chilliest October open in the 133 years since 1876. Not only has it been cool—it’s been cloudy and wet. Rain has fallen 10 of the past 15 days and has totaled 2.13 inches—nearly an inch (0.85) above normal. The damp weather has allowed only 38 percent of October’s possible sunshine to date—58 percent is typical.
Not all of the country is shivering. South Texas broiled in unseasonable heat. Readings hit 100-degrees at McAllen and 99 at Del Rio.
Gusty downslope winds sweep Colorado during Thursday balloon episode
The 20-foot-diameter, helium-filled balloon first feared to be carrying a 6-year old as it took to the skies above Colorado Thursday afternoon, was whipped by gusty winds sweeping out of the mountains into the state’s eastern Plains. These katabatic or Chinook winds gusted at times as high as 28 to 50 mph. The compressional warming they set in motion sent eastern Colorado temperatures soaring to near 70-degrees.
A couple days ago, while talking about a powerful storm hitting California, you mentioned heavy snow in the mountains, but here in Tahoe, at 6,200 feet, it was pouring rain.
Jimmy Smith, Tahoe, Calif.
Early-season snowstorms in California’s mountains are usually confined to the most lofty elevations of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s a matter of atmospheric physics. Air expands and cools when it rises, losing 5.4 degrees for every thousand feet of vertical ascent in clear air and 3.3 degrees when it is saturated with moisture (in fog or clouds). When humid air from the Pacific Ocean ascends the Sierra Nevadas, it cools at a rate of 5.4 degrees per 1,000 feet of vertical rise until clouds form, after which the chill rate occurs at 3.3 degrees per 1,000 feet. Rain at Tahoe (6,200 feet) at, say 40 degrees, would likely be snow at 30 degrees at 9,200 feet.
Mariann, who is from Bridgeview, IL, snapped this photo Tuesday of what she refers to as a “UFO cloud” while visiting Palm Springs, California. It’s not unusual to hear such clouds referred to as UFO-like because of their lens-like shape. Lenticular clouds are a form of “standing wave” cloud–a stationary, comparatively high altitude lens-shaped cloud which can linger for some time as air flows over mountain ranges. The fact that mountain ranges are fixed in place means air ascends at the same location producing a cloud which appears to linger for some time. The cloud Mariann captured in this shot Tuesday is precisely such a cloud. What a TERRIFIC shot! THANKS for sending this along, Mariann!
Photo courtesy: Mariann, Bridgeview, Il