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  • Tim McGill

Protect Your Plants!

Cool Today & Cold Tonight

Last weekend we were enjoying a taste of summer with highs in the 80s. This weekend will be between 25° to 30° below average. The cooler pattern that kicked in on Tuesday could keep our highs below average through the middle of next week.

Today's highs will again fail to get out of the 50s. Our wind will turn in off the lake early today and that brisk breeze off of the chilly waters of Lake Michigan will mean highs in the middle to upper 50s today.

Once the winds shift off the lake today they will stay off the lake through Sunday and into at least early next week. That should insure our highs will be well below average through the period. Average highs for this time of the year are around 67°.

There is hope for a warm up towards the middle of next week. Highs should bounce back into the 60s for most of us by Tuesday.

Before we see those temperatures bounce back we have a few risks of frost to deal with. A frost advisory is in effect for nearly everyone except the Chicago metropolitan area from midnight to 8 a.m. Saturday. Sensitive outdoor plants could be die from the frost if not protected from the cold.

Lows overnight will dip into the lower to middle 30s outside of Chicago. There is another chance for some light frost Monday night into early Tuesday morning.

The temperature anomaly forecast for Mother's Day keeps us about 15° to 20° or more cooler than average. Highs Sunday may only reach into the lower 50s for most of us with just upper 40s along the lakefront.

The good news is that highs should soar back into at least the 70s by a week from this Saturday. That means next weekend will be around 20° warmer than this weekend.

More Rain Needed To Put Dent In Drought

Some May showers on Thursday brought welcome rain to some of the parched portions of northern Illinois. Most of us had less than a tenth of an inch of rain but some of our northern suburbs saw around a quarter of an inch. More rain is needed. We are already down about three quarters of an inch of rain below average for just the first week of May. We are down just under five inches below average since the start of spring on March 1st.

The update from the U.S. Drought Monitor for the Chicago area shows the drought here has deepened over the last week. Keep in mind that it doesn't consider Thursday's rainfall.

Nearly 98% of our region is at least abnormally dry. Nearly 60% of our area is now in a moderate drought which is up about 22% compared to last week.

The hardest hit areas have only seen about 25% to 50% of average rainfall during the last 90 days. Those more parched portions of northern Illinois are focused just west and northwest of the city.

The GFS model offers some hope for help with the ongoing drought. There may be a few spotty afternoon showers today but the best chance for more significant rain comes starting Saturday evening and lasting through much of Mother's Day. More rain is expected next Thursday with another round of rain that following weekend. Those rainfall chances after this weekend though look to bring just light amounts here.

The GFS model precipitation accumulation forecast through the weekend suggests a range of rainfall from just over an inch in our northern suburbs to just over two inches south of the city. Other models are suggesting lighter amounts of rainfall and suppress the significant rain south of I-80. Based on previous rain events and the way models have handled them, I tend to agree with the models that bring us lighter amounts of rain this weekend compared to what the GFS model is forecasting. At this point though we will take anything we can get.

The drought is more dire in the western United States. Three out of the four drought categories saw an expansion in the last week. Nearly half of the west is in an extreme drought.

The two states in the worst shape out west include Arizona and Utah. Nearly 87% of Arizona is in an extreme drought and nearly 58% of the state is in an exceptional drought. Just over 90% of Utah is in an extreme drought and just over 57% is in an exceptional drought.

Getting Back To About Average

There is hope that we may break out the cooler pattern we have recently settled into. The latest 6-10 day forecast still has us outlooked for cooler than average temperatures overall from May 12th through May 16th but just beyond that, the next longer range forecast offers a little hope for a milder latter part of May. The 8-14 day temperature probability forecast has us favored for returning to about average temperatures overall from May 14th through May 20th. Average highs for the middle of May are around 70°.

No Strong Signals For Precip Pattern

The longer range precipitation probability forecasts are once again a mixed bag. The first has us outlooked for near normal precipitation but the second hints at above average precipitation. The latest 6-10 day has Chicago favored for about average precipitation from May 12th through May 16th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast though has us favored for above average precipitation overall from May 14th through May 20th. The probabilities though remain on the lower side.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Partly to mostly cloudy, cool, spotty pm showers High: 58 (52 lakeside)

Saturday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 38 High: 57 (53 lakeside)

Sunday: Mostly cloudy, scattered showers mainly south Low: 43 High: 54 (cooler lakeside)

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 41 High: 57 (cooler lakeside)

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 38 High: 62 (cooler lakeside)

Wednesday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 45 High: 64 (cooler lakeside)

Thursday: Partly to mostly cloudy, chance of light rain Low: 42 High: 65 (cooler lakeside)



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