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  • Tim McGill

Bringing Back The Heat For The 4th

Cooler Friday But Steamy By Sunday

We slipped into the 70s for highs on Thursday as dew points dropped during the day. It was a relatively cooler and less humid start to July after a June that ended up nearly 4° above average. This cooler pattern continues for one more day. The HRRR model has our highs today topping out in the lower to middle 70s with just upper 60s along the lakefront. Average highs for today's date are 84°.

I've been mentioning a catchphrase Chicagoans are familiar with nearly all week, it's not the heat, it's the humidity. The trend in dew points tell the real story. Dew points are the preferred measurement of moisture for meteorologists. After spending most of this week in the 60s and near 70° our dew points dropped into the 50s yesterday and should continue to fall today before surging back by Sunday.

The winds will continue off the lake today but not quite as strong as yesterday. These northeast winds are still capable of producing some respectable waves and creating some danger at Lake Michigan's beaches. More on that below.

We stay dry through this weekend with virtually 0% chance of rain.

The National Blend Of Models forecasts our dew points to fall into the 40s today and then surging back into the 60s Saturday and approaching 70° by Sunday. The combination of heat and humidity on the 4th of July will make it feel like the middle to upper 90s.

Today will be around 10° below average but by the 4th we will be nearly 10° above average.

The National Blend Of Models has highs our highs staying in the 70s today but near 90° Saturday and into the lower 90s on July 4th. The forecast for Sunday night's fireworks is still very warm and muggy. Temperatures between 8 pm and 11 pm will be in the lower 80s with clear skies expected.

The warmer pattern that returns this weekend may stick around into the middle of July. The 6-10 day forecast has outlooked us for above average temperatures overall from July 7th through July 11th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast also favors us for above average temperatures overall from July 9th through July 15th but with slightly higher probabilities.

Danger Lurking Along The Lakefront

A high swim risk continues along Lake Michigan's shoreline today and into this evening. Northeast winds have diminished a bit but are still capable of whipping up big waves and creating dangerous rip currents. The National Weather Service warns swimming conditions will be life threatening, especially for inexperienced swimmers.

A beach hazards statement will continue through 7 pm tonight.

The southern shorelines of Lake Michigan will have the highest swim risk today.

Rip currents are one of the leading weather related causes of death for not only portions of our nation's ocean fronts but also along some of Lake Michigan's shorelines. The National Weather Service has some helpful advice on how to avoid rip currents and what to do if you get caught in one.

So another reminder to be aware of the dangers at the beaches today. Stay safe so you can enjoy your holiday weekend.

Latest Details On The Drought

June really helped turned the tide in terms of rainfall. The period of March through May saw the rainfall deficit grow at O'Hare to nearly 7 inches below average. June ended up seeing 6.78" of rain. The month ended up with 2.68" of rain above average. Since the start of meteorological spring on March 1st we are now down 4.31" below average. According the the latest analysis from the US Drought Monitor, our recent rains helped put a dent in the drought.

Comparing this week's analysis to last week's shows some improvement. The portions of Illinois in a moderate and severe drought have diminished. The moderate drought (level 1 of 4) area has dropped from 9.18% to 7.55%. The severe drought area (level 2 of 4) has dropped from 3.12% to 2.22%. The extreme drought area (level 3 of 4) is unchanged at .96%.

Looking at the observed rainfall for the past 30 days gives a clear picture of why we have seen some improvement. Most of the area has seen over 5" of rain with a few spots receiving up to 10 to 15 inches.

The GFS model doesn't bring in any more rain until next Tuesday and Wednesday. That is followed by another round of rain possibly a week from Saturday.

The GFS model total rainfall forecast through this Friday afternoon shows a wide range of rainfall for next week. Some spots don't receive any but others could see up to over an inch south of the city. That reflects the nature of scattered summertime showers and thunderstorms.

The European model is again a little more generous with its rainfall forecast. It has a range of rainfall between three quarters of an inch to nearly two inches north of the city.

Our dry weekend may be followed by the return of a more active pattern. The signal isn't particularly strong but does point toward more rainfall than average going into the middle of July. The latest 6-10 day forecast has the Chicago area favored for above average precipitation overall from July 6th through July 11th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast also has us favored for above average precipitation overall from July 9th through July 15th. The forecast remains discouraging for the drought stricken west. Most of that region is favored to see below average rainfall for the middle part of July.

The Midwest as a region also had good news with the latest drought analysis. The moderate and severe drought areas both diminished. The area in an extreme drought remained unchanged at .20%.

The drought woes out west continue. The areas in a moderate, severe and extreme drought all saw increases while the area in an exceptional drought fell slightly. An incredible 93% of the region is in at least a moderate drought, nearly 82% is in a severe drought and almost 60% is in an extreme drought. Over a quarter of the region is in an exceptional drought (level 4 out of 4).

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Mostly sunny, mild & pleasant High: 76 (68 lakeside)

Saturday: Mostly sunny Low: 59 High: 88 (cooler lakeside)

Sunday: Mostly sunny, hot & humid Low: 68 High: 92

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny, hot & humid Low: 70 High: 91

Tuesday: Partly/mostly sunny, sct. shwer/t-strm possible Low: 70 High: 86 (cooler lakeside)

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, sct. shwr/t-strm possible Low: 63 High: 78 (cooler lakeside)

Thursday: Partly/mostly sunny, sct. shwr/t-strm possible Low: 66 High: 81 (cooler lakeside)



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