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  • Tim McGill

Big Wind & Waves Followed By Big Warm Up

Batten Down The Hatches

Strong winds today will make for a raw March day with wind chills only in the 20s and 30s. By Sunday it will feel near 40° warmer as we enjoy the warmest weekend in just over four months.

A wind advisory is in effect until 7 pm tonight. Northeast winds will blow steady between 25 and 35 mph with gusts as high as 55 mph possible. Unsecured objects will be blown around and "tent structures may also become unstable or be blown down". There may be power outages as well.

Average highs for this time of the year are around 47°. Look for highs today to only reach into the upper 30s and lower 40s.

Wind chills will only be in the 20s and lower 30s today and finally climbing out of the 30s Friday afternoon. The strongest gusts will occur between 7 AM and 7 PM today. To add insult to injury there is even a small chance of some wet snow mixing in as the rain ends late in the morning and midday from northwest to southeast. No accumulation expected though. The winds finally diminish Friday but even then it will still be a bit blustery with gusts approaching 30 mph.

Warmest Weekend Since Early November

Timing is everything and it couldn't be better for this weekend. The hourly temperature meteogram below shows the forecast temperatures from several different models. Highs will bounce back to the 50s on Saturday and 60s on Sunday. We should remain relatively warm through at least the middle of next week.

The GFS model's temperature anomaly forecast for Sunday afternoon still has us around 10° to 15° above average. Highs should reach into the lower to middle 60s.

Dry Weekend

The GFS model has the rain ending from northwest to southeast late this morning into the afternoon. We dry out for Friday through Monday. Looking forward to plenty of sunshine in particular on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The pattern gets more active towards the middle of next week. Rain is possible late Tuesday into Wednesday. More rain could follow later next Thursday into early Friday morning. The model even suggests some possible snow late Thursday. That is still a long way off will probably change so stay tuned.

Lakeshore Flooding

Strong winds through Thursday night into Friday morning will whip up big waves along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Waves building from 10 to 13 feet along with high lake levels will cause flooding. A lakeshore flood advisory is in effect until 11 a.m. Friday for Lake County and northern and central Cook county in Illinois.

Here are the National Weather Service concerns for those areas:

* IMPACTS...Some water on low lying roads and property along the
  lakeshore expected. This includes portions of the Chicago Bike
  Path and Whiting Lakefront Park.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Large waves combined with high lake
  levels will lead to at least minor flooding of lakeshore
  parks, trails, parking lots, and other low-lying areas along
  the immediate lakeshore.

Lakeshore flood advisories have also been issued for Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.

Returning To Near Normal

The longer range temperature forecasts have us dropping from above average temperatures to near normal by the end of the month. Average highs for the end of March are in the lower 50s. The latest 6-10 day temperature probability forecast has us outlooked for above average temperatures overall from March 23rd through March 27th. The longer range 8-14 day has us favored for returning to around average temperatures overall from March 25th through March 31st.

The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) forecast is signaling a mild end to March and above average start to April. The temperature anomaly forecast for the week ending April 2nd has us outlooked to be above average for the period. The forecast for the following week ending on April 9th keeps us above average overall. It suggests the temperatures will be even more above average compared to the forecast for the previous week. Both forecasts have the majority of the country milder than average overall.

Month To End Moist?

The longer range precipitation probability forecasts have us favored for above average precipitation overall for the end of this Month. The latest 6-10 day forecast has us favored for above average precipitation from March 23rd through March 27th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast has northern Illinois outlooked for above average average precipitation overall from March 25th through March 31st too. Both outlooks have our probabilities on the lower end so the signal isn't particularly strong. The risk for spring flooding is above average for many area rivers. More on that below.

Springing Forward

The Climate Prediction Center's seasonal forecast for spring suggests a mild and moist pattern overall here. The temperature probability forecast for the months of March, April and May have us outlooked for above average temperatures overall. The precipitation probability forecast for the same period has us outlooked for above average precipitation overall.

Spring Flood Risk Forecast

The National Weather Service considers many risk factors for spring flooding. They include snow cover, soil moisture, and current river conditions.

"A significant snow cover with high water content can increase the chances of flooding once warmer weather melts the snow. Elevated soil moisture conditions reduce the amount of rainfall that is soaked up by the ground and increase the amount of water that then runs off into area streams. Above average river levels reduce the river rise required to reach flood stage, while below average river levels would require an increased amount of river rise to reach flood stage."

Their latest forecast suggests the flood risk is above average for many of our area rivers. The Des Plaines and Fox rivers in particular need to be watched closely.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Rain ending from northwest to southeast early, windy, cold High: 42

Friday: Sunny, a bit breezy Low: 29 High: 46 (colder near the lake)

Saturday: Sunny skies Low: 29 High: 55 (cooler near the lake)

Sunday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 36 High: 64

Monday: Partly to mostly cloudy Low: 46 High: 62

Tuesday: Mostly cloudy, showers possible Low: 47 High: 61

Wednesday: Partly to mostly cloudy, showers possible Low: 48 High: 62



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