1000 mile storm soaks Chicago, wallops Northeast

Chicagoans endured a windy, wet and raw Saturday that put a damper on the city’s early St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. With temperatures hovering in the 40s and northeast winds gusting to nearly 40 mph, wind-driven rains officially totaled nearly 0.60 inches at O’Hare International Airport, but topped 1 inch in the harder hit south suburban areas. Sunday promises to be drier with just some sprinkles or passing light showers, but persistent clouds and northeast winds will continue the chill.
 
Chicago’s weather was tame compared to the pounding out East. Areas from West Virginia and Pennsylvania to Connecticut were on the eastern flank of the same storm that brought Chicago its inclement weather Saturday. High winds and heavy rain produced flooding, downed trees and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of residents while disrupting air and rail travel. Winds gusted as high as 64 mph in New York City while more than two inches of rain soaked Newark, New Jersey (2.16 inches) and Philadelphia (2.30 inches). The storm battered the same areas that were hit with a massive 2-3 foot snowstorm just two weeks ago.

Chicago flood of August 1987

Dear Tom,
I remember a big flood in the city in August 1987. Was the flooding caused by a series of strong thunderstorms or a frontal passage?

Robert Skurski, Chicago

Dear Robert,
That flood, one of the worst to ever hit the city, was caused by waves of moisture-laden thunderstorms that “trained” over areas from Rockford to Chicago’s North Side for about 17 hours on Aug. 13-14, 1987. When the storms abated, 9.35 inches of rain had inundated the area near O’Hare International Airport, turning it into an inaccessible island for nearly 24 hours. The brunt of the storm targeted the north and west parts of the metropolitan area, causing three fatalities and damage in excess of $220 million. Wet weather continued to plague the city after the flood and August 1987 eventually tallied 17.10 inches of rain, making it the city’s wettest month on record.

Fog eases, some flights delayed at area airports

The dense fog from this morning has eased, but not in time to prevent a slowdown at Chicago’s airports.  Flights were delayed at both Midway and O’Hare this morning due to a combination of fog and a steady rain. 

The rain did not stop St, Patrick’s Day festivities in downtown Chicago.  The parade is on as scheduled,  and the annual tradition of dying the Chicago River bright green took place earlier today.

Below:  The Chicago River at 10:30 Saturday Morning

 

river green.jpg
 

Photo courtesy of Roberta Peters
 

 

Clouds, wind and rain conspire to end 2010's longest mild streak

The inexorable seasonal march toward summer is on–but you wouldn’t
know it to step outside Saturday. At best, it’s a “march” which
proceeds in fits and starts–warm one day, chilly the next. The
temperature reduction, powerful 35+ mph gusts and spells of rain
sweeping the Chicago area Saturday may best be characterized as a
“fit”–rather than a “start.”

The past week’s all too brief
three-day excursion into the world of 50 and 60-degree temperatures is
history–for now. Warm-weather enthusiasts should take some solace in
early indications a spell of 60s may return for another comparatively
brief run later next week. Any prospect Saturday’s dreary weather is
headed for the meteorological exit is being dashed by the onset of a
“blocking pattern” across Canada not expected to ease until next week.
Blocking patterns don’t automatically mean all weather movement
screeches to a halt. But they often slow weather’s progression,
allowing systems–like the weekend’s blustery low pressure storm–to
linger.

Rainfall could approach an inch

Rain with
the current storm system arrived into the Chicago area from the
southeast–that’s right, from the southeast–Friday afternoon. That’s
opposite the movement of a majority of weather systems which tend to
arrive from the west or southwest. The storm’s slow movement is to keep
the Chicago area shrouded by clouds and subjected to wind and sporadic
rain or drizzle through the weekend. Precipitation estimates vary–but
average to around 1 inch. It’s the wind which many here may find most
objectionable. Varied pressures between the slow-moving storm downstate
and a sprawling Canadian high to the north will drive the gusty wind
regime. The set-up shows little sign of breaking down. Instead, its
demise is to be a slow one, suggesting its northeast to north winds
could still be with us into Wednesday–even though an injection of
drier air Monday should permit clouds to break and allow passing sun.

West Palm Beach walloped by over 5″ of rain

It
was south and central Florida’s turn for heavy rain Friday. Both coasts
of the often-sunny peninsula were subjected to wind-driven downpours
which totaled a record-breaking (for March 12) 5.28″ at West Palm
Beach, 4.08″ at Tampa, 3.67″ at Ft. Myers and 3.21″ at Vero Beach.
Storm gusts topped 40 mph.

A number of recent computer projections suggest sticking snow not out of the question in Week #2

Temperatures
are projected to rebound–possibly to the 60s–next Thursday and
Friday. But, a suite of longer-range computer models suggests fairly
strong cooling may follow. Projections into the 1-2 week time range
imply the cool-down may be strong enough to allow sticking snow in
sections of the Midwest–possibly not far from Chicago. It’s a
development we’ll monitor.