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  • Tim McGill

Memorial Day Forecast & Drought Update

Little Change From Last Week

The latest analysis from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows virtually no change from last week. The area of the state in a moderate drought remains at 6.58%. There was also no change in the area in a severe drought. Nearly 3% of northern Illinois is in that category. That includes the north side of the city, northern DuPage & Cook counties, northeastern Kane county, all of Lake county and most of McHenry county. The percentage of the state that is abnormally dry dropped just .01%. The one important caveat to those numbers is that some of this week's rain was not included in the analysis. That along with additional rain today and tonight should hopefully reduce the portions of Illinois experiencing a drought. O'Hare is now down 2.66" of rain below average for May and 6.90" below average since March 1st.

It has been particularly dry over the past thirty days. Many of our northern suburbs have only received between about 25% to 50% of average rainfall for the period. This area is still in a severe drought.

The GFS model suggests some significant rainfall for today into tonight. We also have a few chances for rain by the middle of next week beginning Wednesday and lasting on and off through early Friday.

The GFS model total rainfall forecast through Saturday morning lays down some substantial rainfall. If this verifies our northern suburbs would receive about a third of an inch with Chicago picking up over an inch and spots south of the city could receive nearly two inches of rain.

The Midwest has seen a slight improvement overall in terms of drought levels. The area in a moderate drought dropped slightly from 19.06% last week to 17.82% this week. The area in a severe drought dropped from 2.05% last week to 1.95% this week.

Much of the west remains parched with only slight improvements in a few drought categories. Over half of the region is in an extreme drought and over a quarter of the region is in an exceptional drought, the worst level possible.

More Like March Today

We fell to 59° for the high Thursday at O'Hare. Much of today will be spent in the 40s with a brisk breeze off the lake adding insult to injury. I hate to even utter these words but we will probably experience a wind chill in the 30s at times.

We are on the worst end of the weather whiplash that I talked about in yesterday's post. Our 80s (or more) through Wednesday this week has made it feel just like July and ranks among the warmest 10% of high temperatures for the last third of May. Our highs today will fall into the lower 50s to rank among the coldest 10% of highs for this time of the year.

Lucky us. The temperature anomaly forecast continues to show the core of the anomalously cool air will be centered over Chicago and the Midwest on Friday. Much of the plains, Midwest, Ohio Valley and northeast will experience temperatures between 10° to nearly 30° below average today.

On and off showers will continue today into tonight with the best chance of rain through about 11 pm. Gusts will exceed 30 mph most of the day and even though the winds diminish on Saturday it will still be breezy with gusts around 25 mph.

The meteogram below considers several different model forecasts of temperatures. We will slowly but surely warm up through this holiday weekend. Highs Saturday should be near 60°, Sunday's highs will be near 70° and most of us should see highs in the 70s by Memorial Day.

The GFS model forecast gives warm weather fans something to look forward to next weekend. The model is suggesting our highs soar well into the 80s by a week from this Sunday.

Wind Off The Lake

Our brisk breeze off the lake will again be the main culprit for keeping us nearly 30° cooler than average today and keeping us cooler along the lakefront through at least Monday. Southern Lake Michigan's water temperatures are mainly in the middle to upper 50s near the shoreline but fall into the lower 50s out over the center of the lake. After our gusty winds today and breezy conditions tomorrow the winds lighten a bit for Sunday and Monday but still blow off the lake to keep us about 5° to 10° cooler along the lakefront through Memorial Day.

Gusty winds will whip up some large waves along our lakefront through most of today. Waves will build between 6 feet to 11 feet at times today into tonight. The National Weather Service has issued a beach hazards statement remains in effect until 9 pm tonight. Dangerous rip currents will be possible through tonight too.

Warming Up In Early June

June offers hope for a warm up compared to the cooler pattern we are in the middle of today. The 6-10 day forecast favors us for about average temperatures overall from June 2nd through June 6th but the longer range forecast warms us up. The 8-14 day temperature probability forecast favors us for above average temperatures overall from June 4th through June 10th.

The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) temperature anomaly forecast is favoring the Chicago area for near normal temperatures for the middle of next month. The average highs for this period are in the upper 70s to lower 80s. The temperature anomaly forecast for the week ending June 11th has us outlooked for about average temperatures overall. The forecast for the following week ending on June 18th also has Chicago outlooked for about average temperatures overall.

More Active Pattern By Middle Of June?

The long range precipitation probability forecasts indicate a more active pattern my be developing by the middle of next month. The latest 6-10 day forecast has Chicago favored for near normal precipitation from June 2nd through June 6th but the longer range 8-14 day forecast has us favored for above average precipitation overall from June 4th through June 10th.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: On & off showers (t-storm possible), windy & cooler Near steady temps in the upper 40s

Saturday: Mostly sunny Low: 48 High: 63 (56 lakeside)

Sunday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 46 High: 70 (61 lakeside)

Monday: Partly to mostly cloudy Low: 54 High: 73 (63 lakeside)

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny, spotty shower possible late Low: 54 High: 75 (cooler lakeside)

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, scattered showers Low: 55 High: 76 (cooler lakeside)

Thursday: Mostly cloudy, scattered showers Low: 57 High: 77 (cooler lakeside)



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