After a hot summer with endless strings of sunny dry days, things seem to be beginning to change. In recent days rain has been falling at more frequent intervals and a persistent cloud cover has been keeping hot weather at bay. A frontal system stalling out downstate should prevent the 90s from making inroads into the area this week and while showers will exit this area this morning, more rain should return by Thursday as the next system approaches.
While droughts that take months to develop usually don’t end quickly, the combination of frequent rainfall and cooler cloudier weather that limits moisture evaporation from the soils will begin to make slow steady inroads into soil moisture replenishment.
The Atlantic remains active with Tropical Storm Irene forecast to gain hurricane strength today before recurving out to sea, making way for the season’s tenth storm Jose expected to be named later today about 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles.
It was hot downstate Friday. Triple-digit temperatures dominated the scene. Highs of 100° at both St. Louis and Belleville marked the fourth time in 2005 that daytime readings reached the century mark there.
Only a year ago, jackets and sweaters were in fashion across the region as Midwesterners shivered through one of the summer’s many cool spells. The Aug. 12, 2004, high in St. Louis, as an example, topped out at just 69°—a reading 31 degrees below Friday’s sizzling 100° maximum.
A year-to-year comparison at Chicago between last year’s 62° high and the 85° reading achieved Friday was equally dramatic.
There’s been no shortage of warm air in Chicago this season. Friday’s 85° high was the 51st daytime reading as high or higher since June 1. At no time since records began here in 1871 has a meteorological summer hit 85° or higher as frequently. The closest was 1988 with 50 days of 85°-plus highs.
Chicago Tribune photographer John Smierciak was kind enough to share these lightning images with the WGN Weather Center. The photos were taken early in the evening of July 19 in St. John, Ind. Thank you John for your amazing photos!
Photos courtesy of Chicago Tribune photographer John Smierciak