ASK TOM: Winter 2013-14′s cold temperatures

Dear Tom,

I believe this was among the coldest winters on record, and since Jan.1 this seems like one of the coldest starts to a calendar year in my memory.

— D. Baxter, Chicago

Dear D.,

Most area residents would agree with you. The winter (December through February) just ended ranks as Chicago’s fourth coldest. That’s the result of a computer scan of 144 winters in Chicago’s official temperature database (from the winter of 1870-71 through 2013-14).

With an average temperature of 18.8 degrees, it was 0.5 degrees warmer than the 18.3-degree average of the coldest winter, 1903-04.

And last winter’s chill has persisted into the spring. Through April 21, the average temperature for 2014 stands at 26.6 degrees, the city’s seventh coldest for that period (Jan. 1-April 21).  Coldest: 1875 at 25.0 degrees.

More weather snapshots

Lynn Xydas calls these Happy Buds on what looks like a pussy-willow tree. Photo courtesy of Lynn Xydas, Near Rolling Meadows, IL

Lynn Xydas calls these Happy Buds on what looks like a pussy-willow tree. Photo courtesy of Lynn Xydas, Near Rolling Meadows, IL

Michelle Henn shares this Hampshire sunset with us. Photo courtesy of Michelle Henn, Hampshire, IL

Michelle Henn shares this Hampshire sunset with us. Photo courtesy of Michelle Henn, Hampshire, IL

Shiela Conrad says this is fella is an unwanted hood ornament.  Photo courtesy of Sheila Conrad

Shiela Conrad says this is fella is an unwanted hood ornament. Photo courtesy of Sheila Conrad

Amanda Rauch sends us this shot of shafts of rain extending from the base of these shower clouds. Photo courtesy of Amanda Rauch, DeKalb, IL

Amanda Rauch sends us this shot of shafts of rain extending from the base of these shower clouds. Photo courtesy of Amanda Rauch, DeKalb, IL

Diane Rizzio calls attention to these sprouts which are poking their way through old leaves. Photo courtesy of Diane Rizzio

Diane Rizzio calls attention to these sprouts which are poking their way through old leaves. Photo courtesy of Diane Rizzio

Weather snapshots

Randy Benzie forwards us this shot of one of Monday afternoon's showers and thunderstorms---this one over Yorkville. Photo courtesy of Randy Benzie, Yorkville, IL

Randy Benzie forwards us this shot of one of Monday afternoon’s showers and thunderstorms—this one over Yorkville. Photo courtesy of Randy Benzie, Yorkville, IL

This gorgeous sunset over Third Lake comes to us from Nicole Esperson. Photo courtesy of Nicole Esperson, Third Lake, Illinois

This gorgeous sunset over Third Lake comes to us from Nicole Esperson. Photo courtesy of Nicole Esperson, Third Lake, Illinois

Nicole's sister and her fiance took a kayak out Monday evening to get a better look at that beautiful sunset and shot this photo while out on the lake. Photo courtesy of Nicole Esperson, Third Lake, Il

Nicole’s sister and her fiance took a kayak out Monday evening to get a better look at that beautiful sunset and shot this photo while out on the lake. Photo courtesy of Nicole Esperson, Third Lake, Il

Despite a mild weekend, 5 ft. of snow lines the roads in Wisconsin's North Woods near Land O Lakes.  Lee Ecker snapped this shot on the way to Easter Services Sunday. He reminds us 18" of snow fell there just last Thursday. Photo courtesy of Lee Ecker, Land O Lake's, Wisconsin

Despite a mild weekend, 5 ft. of snow lines the roads in Wisconsin’s North Woods near Land O Lakes. Lee Ecker snapped this shot on the way to Easter Services Sunday. He reminds us 18″ of snow fell there just last Thursday. Photo courtesy of Lee Ecker, Land O Lake’s, Wisconsin

And Lee points out that this mountainous mound of snow at the side of a parking lot off Main Street in Land O Lakes is apt to be there a while longer.  It's going to take a while to melt it!!  I think you're right, Lee. Photo courtesy of Lee Ecker, Land O Lakes, Wisconsin

And Lee points out that this mountainous mound of snow at the side of a parking lot off Main Street in Land O Lakes is apt to be there a while longer. It’s going to take a while to melt it!! I think you’re right, Lee. Photo courtesy of Lee Ecker, Land O Lakes, Wisconsin

Tim’s Weather World: Cool weather keeps tornado season quiet so far

ArlingtonTornadoLarge

Our cold winter has spilled over into a cool start to spring.  The overall cooler weather pattern has kept the tornado season relatively quiet.  There have been only 21 preliminary reports of tornadoes of EF1 strength or stronger through April 21st.  The Storm Prediction Center says that is the lowest number in over 60 years (see bar graph below).  Ironically, this news was announced on the same day we noted the anniversary of the worst tornado disaster for Northern Illinois.  On April 21st, 1967 at least 10 tornadoes touched down killing 58 people and injuring more than a 1000.

There has been a total of 108 preliminary reports of tornadoes so far this year, far below the previous three-year average of 542 through April.  The longer term average is about 260. For April alone there has been just 38 preliminary reports of tornadoes compared to the previous three-year average of 350.  That number is inflated by the record 758 tornado reports in April of 2011.

The best news of all is that no one has been killed in the United States so far this year from a tornado.  The last time we made it this far into the year without a single tornado death was 1915.

SPCtornadochart

So far, Illinois leads the nation with 18 preliminary reports of tornadoes followed by 15 in Missouri and 9 in California. Oklahoma has only 1 report of a tornado so far this year.  The cooler weather pattern that is in part responsible for the quiet start to tornado season will probably continue for at least a few more weeks.  The 6 to 10 day forecast from the Climate Prediction Center has the midwest and most of the eastern two-thirds of the country outlooked for cooler than average temperatures.  The 8 to 14 day forecast keeps us cooler than average into the first week of May.  Recent research suggest that a “curvy” jet stream pattern could contribute to more extreme winter weather like we just experienced.  The wavier pattern would result in warmer than average weather out west and colder than average weather here and eastward.

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It’s back to cool temps again the next 2 days; Tuesday’s pullback to send readings nearly 20-degrees lower than Monday’s

By Meteorologist Tom Skilling

Cool weather’s back in town the next 2 days. Tuesday’s chilly 50-degree northerly winds are to veer northeast Tuesday night and Wednesday, a development with all sorts of temperature implications here—the most evident among them the likelihood that easterly winds off Lake Michigan Wednesday may limit beach temperatures to the 40s.

Beyond the current cool down, temps are to rebound with afternoon highs reaching the mid to upper 60s before a wind shift to the northeast Friday night sends temps tumbling over the coming weekend.

Despite recent warmth, 2014 temps since Jan 1 are running at their chilliest levels in 32 years and 7th coolest of comparable periods 143 years ago here

Back-to-back 70s Easter Sunday and Monday haven’t been enough to boost 2014′s average temperature much. The period from January 1 through April 21 is the coldest in 32 years and ranks 7th-chilliest of the 143 years of observational records here in Chicago.

Chill over broad area of U.S. has 2014 tornado generation to date at the lowest level since at least 1953 

Never in 60 years of record keeping have so few U.S. tornadoes occurred by April 22. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center reported Monday that 2014′s tornado tally is the lowest which has occurred through April 21 in at least the past 60 years.