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  • Tim McGill

Best Weekend Of The Year So Far?

Relief Arrives Today

We deserve a break. The National Weather Service has issued 45 warnings during the first four days of this week. 2021 is tied with 2015 for the 4th most tornado warnings in a year with 36. Monday through Thursday was the "busiest" severe weather stretch in terms of warnings since 2008.

Our break from this week's steamy and stormy pattern begins today. This could arguably be the best weekend of the year so far. Of course it comes down to personal preference but if you are a fan of sunshine, warm but not hot temperatures and pleasant levels of humidity, this weekend is for you.

A cold front came through last night and northerly winds are now delivering cooler and less humid air. Dropping dew points and cooler temperatures will almost make it feel like fall by tonight.

The HRRR Model has our highs today in the lower 80s. With the wind turning off the lake it will be cooler lakeside with a high closer to 80°. Average highs for today's date are around 83°.

Morning clouds should give way to some sunshine today. It will be hazy sunshine with wildfire smoke from out west still wafting into our skies. The HRRR Model vertically integrated smoke forecast shows smoke from western fires being carried by the jet stream through the Midwest and all the way to the east coast.

No worries today about high heat index or apparent temperature values. It will feel almost 50° cooler by Saturday morning compared to when we saw the peak heat index values that reached well over 100° earlier this week.

A wind off the lake both today and tomorrow will keep it cooler along the lakefront but most of us will see highs in the lower 80s through the weekend.

The dew points are dropping dramatically today. They slide from yesterday's 70s into the 50s. They should stay at relatively comfortable levels through the weekend. Humidity levels bounce back next week as dew points climb back into the 60s by Tuesday and approach 70° by Wednesday.

Relative humidity is one way to express the amount of water vapor in the air but dew points are the preferred measurement of moisture in the air for meteorologists like me. Our dew points drop today from the sweltering sweltering levels (70s) we have seen most of the week to delightful levels (50s) that linger through Monday.

Highs should stay close to average and in the lower 80s through Tuesday . The National Blend Of Models shows temperatures bouncing back above average by the end of next week.

Once we warm back up above average later next week we may stay there well into August. The 6-10 day forecast has outlooked Chicago for above average temperatures from August 18th through August 22nd. The longer range 8-14 day forecast also favors us for above average temperatures overall from August 20th through August 26th. The probabilities are relatively high for this warm weather pattern in both of these forecasts. Average highs are in the lower 80s for this part of August.

The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) temperature anomaly forecasts start us out near normal and then flip us back to above average. The forecast for the week ending on August 27th has us outlooked for about average temperatures. The forecast for the week ending on September 3rd favors us for above average temperatures overall.

Drought Update

1.33" of rain so far this month at O'Hare which has seen the rainfall deficit for the month drop to around a third of an inch. O'Hare has a surplus of just over a half inch of rainfall above average since June 1st but our northern suburbs remain in a drought.

It's another case of mostly good news from the latest US Drought Monitor analysis. The best news is that portions of Illinois in a severe drought dropped almost in half. 1.19% of the state is now in a severe drought (level 2 out of 4 levels) down from 2.19% last week. The bad news is 6.05% of the state is now in a moderate drought (level 1 out of 4 levels) up slightly from 6.00% last week. Northern Illinois is the only part of the state reporting drought conditions. There is more bad news. The portion of the state considered "abnormally dry" has increased to 15.20% from 10.99% last week.

The latest GFS model shows a dry weekend with the next chance of rain coming Tuesday in the form of a spotty shower or thunderstorm. There is another chance a week from today too. The pattern is dry overall with plenty of sunshine today after early clouds clear out and more sunshine over the weekend.

The GFS model total rainfall forecast through next Friday doesn't offer much hope for help with the drought in our northern suburbs. It suggests just a couple tenths of an inch of rain for most of northern Illinois in total.

No drought conditions downstate. It is just the opposite near Champaign in central Illinois. They had a deluge yesterday as heavy rainfall caused some flash flooding. The heaviest rain targeted Gibson City where up to nine inches of rain fell in a 12 hour period.

The long range rainfall forecast trends us in the right direction to help bring some more relief to drought stricken areas here. The latest 6-10 day forecast has the Chicago area favored for above average precipitation from August 18th through August 22nd. The longer range 8-14 day forecast also favors us for above average precipitation from August 20th through August 26th.

Most of the Midwest is also favored for above average rainfall in the long range forecasts too. The Midwest region's drought news is mixed with the latest analysis. The good news is the area in both the moderate and severe drought levels dropped slightly. The bad news is the area in an extreme drought increased slightly and for the first time a portion of the region slipped into an exceptional drought, the highest level.

The west region saw a a slight decrease in their extreme and exceptional drought area, the two highest categories of drought. The area in the two lowest levels of drought, moderate and severe, increased slightly. More than 95% of the west is in some level of drought and just over a quarter of it is in the worst level of drought, the exceptional category.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Becoming partly to mostly sunny High: 82 (near 80° along lakefront)

Saturday: Mostly sunny Low: 63 High: 82 (cooler lakeside)

Sunday: Mostly sunny Low: 63 High: 83 (cooler lakeside)

Monday: Mostly sunny Low: 65 High: 84 (cooler lakeside)

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny, sct. t-storm possible Low: 67 High: 86 (cooler lakeside)

Wednesday: Partly to mostly sunny, sct. t-storm possible Low: 68 High: 87 (cooler lakeside)

Thursday: Partly to mostly sunny, sct. t-storm possible Low: 70 High: 86


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