"Island Style" by John Cruz

Dear Tom,
After a trip to Oahu (the island on which Honolulu is located), my parents said rainfall varies greatly from one side of the island to the other. There is even a song about the windward and leeward sides, but they have not been able to find the song. It’s a long shot, but can you identify that song?

Bill Frank

Dear Bill,
The song is “Island Style” by John Cruz, who, incidentally, grew up on Oahu. The lyrics that caught your parents’ attention are:

 “On the Island, we do it Island Style, from the mountain to the ocean, from the windward to the leeward side.”

However, the song does not refer to Oahu’s climate; rather, it’s a celebration of the laid-back Hawaiian life style. Because northeast trade winds dominate Oahu’s climate, the northeast-facing (windward) coast and mountains are awash with 60-280 inches of rain annually, whereas the southwest (lee) coast receives only 8-15 inches.


Snow returns to the Chicago area

A broad area of snow continues to move across northern Illinois this afternoon.  The snow is generally light, but has ranged from just flurries to a brief period of moderate (1/2 mile or less visibility) snowfall. 

The system generating the snow is poorly organized, and lacks a consistent forcing mechanism to produce a significant snow.   The weak nature of this storm means that this is going to be “light” snow event,  with a total accumulation of around 2″ expected by Thursday morning.   A few isolated heavier amounts are possible.  

The heaviest snowfall reported from this system so far has been 3 inches, which fell in southwest Missouri town of Hermatige.   

Other reports from around the Midwest as of Noon include:

1.4″  Kansas City, MO

1.5″  Macomb, IL

1.0″  Peoria, IL

0.5″  Oklahoma City, OK

0.2″  Dallas, TX



More snow headed this way; arctic blast to hit New Year's Eve

Tuesday’s brief respite from the clouds and snow, dominate meteorological features of December 2009, is coming to an end. Area residents reveled in Chicago’s sunniest weather of the past 13 days Tuesday. The day hosted 88 percent of its  possible sunshine and managed a 24-degree high. But the thickening, wintry-gray cloud deck under development as Wednesday gets underway is to begin producing snow by late morning or early afternoon–snow which is likely to continue in periods through Wednesday night. Computer snowfall estimates for the Chicago come in at half an inch to an inch and a half. But another technique employed by forecasters to estimate possible snowfall is less conservative, generating amounts by daybreak Thursday (New Year’s Day) closer to 4 to 5 inches.

This method—the B.J. Cook Technique—looks at the degree to which temperatures warm high in atmosphere at 39,000 ft. and relates that warming to snowfall. Studies have found that peak snowfall at ground level often ends up equaling half the temperature increase more than 7 miles above the ground. That rising temperatures aloft can be related to snowfall intensity makes sense when you think about. Disturbances in the atmosphere produce precipitation by encouraging moist air to rise and saturate, producing rain or snow and clouds. Rising air transports warmer temperatures aloft. Therefore, the AMOUNT of warming aloft offer a means of gauging just how vigorously air is rising which, in turn affect the intensity with which precipitation falls. The stronger the updrafts, the greater the amount of moisture which rushes into an area and, therefore, the higher the amount of that moisture which precipitates out as rain or snow.
A “wall” of frigid arctic air hits toward News years Eve (Thursday evening)

A blast of frigid arctic air is the next weather challenge facing Chicagoans this week. While high temperatures are likely to hover around 30-degrees Thursday afternoon, the leading edge of bitterly cold air is to ride gusty northwest winds into the area toward New Year’s Eve. From that point forward, temperatures are expected to dive.  Single digits are likely Friday (New Year’s Day) with the day’s temperature recovery only resulting in highs in the teens. Nighttime lows in single digits or sub-zero are predicted Friday and Saturday nights. Days of northwest winds across Lake Michigan are likely to ignite waves of lake snow which may—between Friday and night and next Tuesday—produce heavy accumulations in excess of a foot in a number of locations.
The chill is Florida-bound

The frigid outbreak is to plunge into the Southeast and out over the Gulf of Mexico and into the Caribbean. Freezing nighttime readings are likely to reach sections of north and central Florida this weekend. The cold’s intensity is likely to wane once in contact with the warm ocean waters to the south of Florida–but it is likely to shift winds as far south as Cuba, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and even Jamaica to the northeast over the weekend and into next week.

Didn't we tie or break a record for consecutive snowy days last January?

Dear Tom,
Didn’t we tie or break a record for consecutive snowy days last January?

Tim Benshoof
Dear Tim,
You are absolutely correct. Chicago recorded measurable snow for nine straight days earlier this year from Jan. 6-14. The nine day snowfall total was 18 inches with most of that falling in a two-day storm on January 9-10 that buried the city with a foot of snow. That string of nine snowy days equaled a stretch logged back in 1902, when measurable snow was observed from Jan. 29 to Feb. 6. However the total snowfall then was only 5 inches with most days getting just a dusting. You may remember that bitterly cold weather followed the snowy period last January with the mercury dropping to minus 18 at O’Hare International Airport on Jan. 16. Many suburban areas were much colder with Joliet falling to 30 below zero and Barrington to minus 23.

Cap cloud

John Murray of Chicago sent us this picture of a cap cloud, as seen from Palm Springs, California. John tells us:

“I took these shots this morning of Mt. San Jacinto from the place I am staying at in Palm Springs, California. The cap cloud only lasted another 30 minutes or so before burning off.” 

Thanks for the great shots John!



Photos courtesy of John Murray