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  • Tim McGill

Flurries Now With More Snow Next Week

Looking Out East

Running out of things to talk about during this lackluster winter in Chicago. As mentioned in previous posts, there could be a turn towards more harsh winter weather in the long term but for now it is smooth sailing.

Since it is quiet I thought it is worth taking a look at the long term forecast for our nation's capital. The inauguration is scheduled for Wednesday, January 20th. We are still twelve days out but just within reach to at least have some small amount of confidence in the forecast. It appears DC will be also trending colder by then. If the forecast from the GFS model verifies, it might be cold enough to force the ceremony indoors. It is suggesting highs nearly 20° below average and wind chills dropping into the single digits. The high that day in DC would be in the middle 20s. That would make it the second or third coldest January inauguration on record.

The last time frigid conditions forced the inauguration to move indoors was for President Ronald Reagan on January 21, 1985. The low that morning plunged to -4° and the high was just 17°. The parade was also cancelled as wind chills were between -10° and -20° that day.

Four years prior to that it was quite a bit milder and President Reagan enjoyed the warmest weather for a January inauguration. On January 20th, 1981 the high hit 55°.

Today will be the 14th straight day with temperatures above average. Average high for this date is 31°. We should top out in the middle 30s today.

There will be a brisk breeze out of the north and northeast that will make it feel colder. Winds today will gust at times up to 30 mph near the lake. The combination of today's temperatures and those blustery winds will make it feel like the lower to middle 20s.

"Convergence" Could Squeeze Out Flurries

Northerly winds will collide with northeasterly winds along the lake front to pile up the air and force it upwards. This process is called "convergence". Air ascends it expands and cools enough over areas of convergence to sometimes produce precipitation. In our case today that means a few flurries. There are also marginal conditions that favor some light lake effect snow or flurries.

Our snowfall deficit since December 1st continues to grow. We've had 4.5" of snow so far this winter which is six inches below average. There are a few opportunities to eat away at that deficit though.

O'Hare's accumulated snowfall meteogram suggests some light accumulation possible between tonight and early tomorrow. Models are spitting out anything from a dusting to just over a half an inch is possible. A more significant snow could come towards the end of next week. The early forecast from this meteogram is between a dusting to nearly two inches in total.

The GFS model cloud cover and precipitation meteogram shows little in the way of any precipitation through the middle of next week. It has rain developing on Thursday eventually changing to snow that could linger into early Friday.

Short & Long Term Snowfall #'s

The GFS model forecast lays down just over a dusting of snow between today and early Saturday. It suggests about two to three tenths of an inch is possible.

The European model is calling for a little less during the same period. It spits out barely a dusting.

Looking longer term at the GFS model and more significant snow could fall later next week as already mentioned. The total snowfall accumulation between now and a week from Sunday varies from about one to three inches.

The European model is again more stingy with snow during this same period. It lays down about a quarter to a half inch in total.

Around Or Above Average

Our relatively mild pattern should continue at least into the middle of this month. The longer range temperature probabilities forecasts no longer have us outlooked for above average or near normal temperatures overall. The 6-10 day temperature probability forecast has Chicago and areas north and west of here outlooked for above average temperatures overall from January 13th through January 17th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast has us outlooked for about average temperatures overall during the period from January 15th through January 21st too.

The experimental multi-model ensemble temperature probability forecast for February keeps that mild pattern coming. Not just the Midwest but most of the country is outlooked for above average temperatures overall for next month.

Near Normal Precip Pattern

The longer range precipitation probabilities forecasts has us outlooked first about average precipitation. The 6-10 day forecast from January 13th through January 17th has us outlooked for below near normal precipitation. The 8-14 day forecast has us also near normal in northern Illinois for precipitation from January 15th through the 21st.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Cloudy, breezy, a few flurries High: 36

Saturday: Partly to mostly cloudy, a few flurries early? Low: 27 High: 36

Sunday: Mostly cloudy Low: 24 High: 35

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 23 High: 33

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 25 High: 36

Wednesday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 26 High: 38

Thursday: Chance of rain changing to snow Low: 29 High: 37



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