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  • Tim McGill

A Decent Dent In The Drought

Rare Near Normal Weather

The ongoing drought in northern Illinois was dealt a blow over the past week or so. Some serious rain put a significant dent in the drought. I have more details on the status of the drought further down in my post. The drought started back in the middle of April and arguably had two peaks. One was in the middle of June when nearly 3% of the state was in at least an extreme drought (level 3 out of 4). The second peak occurred just last week when the worst level of drought actually decreased but nearly 16% of the state was in at least a moderate drought, the highest point so far this year.

Our rainfall isn't the only thing getting back to near normal. After 19 straight days with above average temperatures we have a couple of cooler days coming with more typical temperatures for the middle of October. After a few more showers on this Friday we are in store for a wonderful weekend with plenty of sunshine.

Average highs for today's date are around 63°. The HRRR Model has our highs climbing into the lower 60s for most of the area today.

The average low for this time of the year is around 46°. The GFS Model has our lows falling into the lower to middle 40s for most of us tonight. There could even be a few upper 30s well northwest of the city.

Saturday is still on track to be the coolest day in over four months. The GFS Model has our highs only reaching into the upper 50s to near 60°.

Plenty of sunshine at Soldier Field this weekend as the Bears take on the Packers. That sunshine will push highs into the middle to upper 60s according to the GFS Model.

We warm back up quickly early next week. The GFS Model temperature anomaly forecast pushes our temperatures up between 8° to 12° above average. With an average high for Monday of 62° that would mean highs in the lower 70s.

Before we bounce back to the 70s we have a couple of relatively cool days coming today and tomorrow with a rather cool night in-between.

It will be just a bit breezy today with northerly winds around 10-15 miles per hour. Look for stronger winds tomorrow with gusts over 20 mph out of the west and northwest.

Some scattered showers today with areas south and southeast of the city favored for the most rain. The best chance is from the middle of this afternoon into early tonight.

Fall Rollercoaster Temperature Ride

Strap in for a rollercoaster ride of temperatures over the next nearly two weeks. The National Blend Of Models has our highs slipping to near 60° tomorrow and then bouncing back to 70° or warmer for Monday through Wednesday next week. The coolest air of the season so far could arrive by the end of next week with highs possibly falling into the 50s for next Friday and Saturday.

The longer range temperature outlooks move us from near normal to above normal by the end of the month. The 6-10 day outlook has us favored for about average temperatures overall from October 20th through October 24th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast favors us for above average temperatures from October 22nd through October 28th. Average highs for this period are in the upper 50s to lower 60s.

The even longer range temperature anomaly forecast suggests a milder than average pattern overall through the middle of November. The longer term 35 day temperature anomaly forecast still has most of the Midwest warmer than average overall for the next five weeks. We are outlooked to be between 1° to 5° above average overall for the period from October 13th through November 17th. The Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) is a weather forecast model made up of 21 separate forecasts, or ensemble members The model tries to give an idea of the amount of uncertainty in a forecast by running an ensemble of multiple forecasts which are each tweaked a bit with their initial conditions.

Few Friday Showers Then Drying Out

O'Hare now has a surplus of .56" of rain above average for the month of October after .16" of rain fell there yesterday. O'Hare is still down 1.40" of rain below average since the start of September.

Our pattern became more active during October and we have now seen rainfall at O'Hare for 12 of the past 14 days.

The most recent US Drought Monitor analysis was released Thursday. It reflects the benefit of our recent rainfall. Here is a recap from Friday's post:

The areas in at least a moderate drought (level 1 our of 4) dropped nearly 28% while the area in an at least a severe drought (level 2 out of 4) decreased a whopping 86% from last week's analysis. We no longer have any part of the state in an extreme or exceptional drought (levels 3 and 4 out of 4).

The side by side comparison of this week's Illinois drought map next to last week's helps to visualize the improvement we have seen in just seven days time.

Here is a summary of the impacts the ongoing drought is having on northern Illinois from the National Weather Service:

Volunteer observers across far northern Illinois indicate much lower then typical stream flows on area creeks and rivers, particularly along Beaver Creek and the Kishwaukee River.

Reports also indicate that lawns have gone dormant and there has been some stress to the trees. Few impacts to agriculture have been received recently, though the dry conditions and stressed crops have resulted in an early start to the harvest season across northern Illinois. Data available from the Illinois State Water Survey, USGS, and NCEP indicate that soil moisture, groundwater, and surface water levels remain below normal.

The drought news for the entire Midwest was good too. The areas in every level of drought decreased since the last update.

It has been a soggy start to October so far with over 2 inches of rain at O'Hare. We have seen most of northern Illinois receive between 200% to 600% of average rainfall during the last week alone.

The GFS model's meteogram for O'Hare has a few showers on this Friday but then drying out from Saturday through Tuesday with only a few more showers late Tuesday into Wednesday.

The GFS model's total precipitation forecast through tonight is calling for spotty light rainfall today. Most of the area northwest of Chicago doesn't receive any rainfall. The city and areas south and southeast pick up most of the rain with up to a tenth or two tenths of an inch of rain in northern Indiana.

The longer range precipitation outlooks has us outlooked for a dry pattern overall. The latest 6-10 day forecast has the Chicago area favored for below normal rainfall from October 20th through October 24th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast has us outlooked for below average precipitation from October 22nd through October 28th too.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Mostly cloudy, pm scattered showers (mainly south/southeast) High: 63

Saturday: Mostly sunny, cooler Low: 45 High: 60

Sunday: Mostly sunny Low: 44 High: 67

Monday: Mostly sunny Low: 48 High: 71

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 52 High: 72

Wednesday: Partly to mostly cloudy, sct. showers possible Low: 53 High: 66

Thursday: Partly to mostly cloudy, sct. showers possible Low: 48 High: 64


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