Strong to severe thunderstorms possible this afternoon and tonight

A cold front will be approaching the Chicago area this evening from the northwest, and spring-like thunderstorms are expected to develop along this boundary.   A few of these storms could be strong to possibly severe here in northern Illinois.   Keep an eye to the sky and check back with us on the WGN Severe Weather Blog for the latest throught this Easter Sunday and tonight. 

  Severe Risk area as outlined by the Storm Prediction Center

The WGN Severe Weather Blog will have updates throughout the day and into the night tonight.


City set for mildest Easter in 12 years

Thursday and Friday’s back-to-back highs in the 80s were relegated to memories Saturday  as clouds and showers kept Chicago’s  temperatures in the 50s much of the day — but skies cleared in the afternoon, paving the way for the city’s mildest Easter in a dozen years. With increasing south-southwest winds through the day, readings are expected to rebound into the lower 70s, Sunday bringing  the warmest Easter readings here since it reached 73 degrees on March 26, 1998.  

The weather should be dry Sunday but a surge moisture arriving Sunday night could trigger a round of showers and thunderstorms  with some hefty rainfall totals that could approach one inch in some areas.  More rain is expected to arrive Monday night as a warm front moves through the city, setting the stage for what could be the season’s first severe weather outbreak late on a warm, gusty Tuesday as a cold front slams through the area.
Record heat in the Northeast

A slew of high temperature records fell on Saturday in at least  30 cities  across portions of eight states from Michigan to Maine. Some of the warmest readings were in New York  including 87 degrees at both Watertown and Syracuse, 85 at Massena and 84 at Buffalo.

Mild Christmas followed by a snowy Easter

Dear Tom,
I remember a mild Christmas when guests arrived wearing light jackets that was followed by a very snowy Easter when they sported heavy coats and boots. When did this occur?

–Gene Trucano

Dear Gene,
You are recalling Christmas 1963 and Easter 1964 in Chicago. Christmas Day was sunny and mild with an official high of 39 degrees, but many suburban areas peaked in the lower 40s. In stark contrast the Easter that followed on March 29 was wintry and stands as the city’s snowiest on record. The city received 7.1 inches of wind-driven snow that began just before sunrise and continued through late afternoon. Strong winds created near-blizzard conditions, piled the snow into huge drifts and produced subzero wind chills.

Temperatures soared as the winds roared Friday

The realization that Chicago’s temperatures have backtracked
overnight–and done so noticeably–is likely to become apparent with a
quick step out the door Saturday. Rather than Friday morning’s low 60s,
Saturday dawns with 50s. A cold front has passed and Saturday morning’s
rains are falling through a much cooler atmosphere than the one in
place here Thursday and Friday. But the news is hardly all bad.

Morning rains–possibly interrupted with a few isolated flashes of
lightning–are to wind down Saturday, allowing clouds to break in the
afternoon and evening. South winds return overnight and turn gusty
Sunday–a development likely to coax unseasonably mild air back into the
area by Easter Sunday afternoon. Temperatures return to 70 degrees at
that time–a reading which is likely to repeat Monday in all but
shoreline areas, where lake breezes are to take shape. It appears a
good bet THIS Easter Sunday is on track to end up the Chicago area’s
mildest in 12 years. Last Easter’s highs hovered in the low 50s.

Stormier weather ahead next week

A lull in the large-scale wind pattern Monday appears likely to set the
stage for lake breeze development. It’s a set-up which could reach U.S.
Cellular Field for the White Sox’ home opener Monday afternoon and
evening–but in modest form. Lake breezes tend to be very limited in
scale and areal coverage, so they aren’t the perfect vehicle for
transporting lake-cooled air long distances inland.

Better organized large-scale winds associated with the area’s next
spring storm are to follow Monday night and Tuesday. They set the stage
for another vigorous warm-up Tuesday, and the arrival of the area’s
most humid air mass to date. Clusters of thunderstorms will be fueled
by this moisture, and with a strong jet stream expected to knife into
Chicago’s airspace, it’s possible that the season’s first severe
thunderstorms could erupt.