Records Within Reach
More Like April Than March
March has started off mild and is now running 4.4° above average. We saw our first 60s of the year so far yesterday with a high of 62° at O'Hare. It was the warmest we have been in nearly four months. The record high for today is 69° set in 1974. We will come close to 70° in some spots today. Gusty southwest winds along with some sunshine should push highs into the upper 60s for most areas.
It takes strong winds along with some sunshine this time of year to be able to break records. Winds will stay strong though at least early Thursday morning. Gusts today will exceed 30 mph. Wednesday's winds will be even stronger. Gusts tomorrow could exceed 40 mph.
Only the most stubborn snowpack has yet to melt. The 60s today and tomorrow combined with the strong winds will take care of whatever is left. Our recent warm spell is also doing a number on the Great Lakes ice cover. It has now dropped to 18.5% (lower left image). Just two years ago the ice over was more than five times greater at 80% (lower right image).
More Records Possible
We stay 20° or more above average through early Thursday. This means two more record temperatures are possible. The record high minimum temperature for Wednesday is 52°. The low early tomorrow is forecast to fall into the lower to middle 50s. The record high minimum temperature for Thursday is 55°. The forecast low that morning is in the middle to upper 50s. This means the lows the next two mornings will start off well above our average highs (44°) for this time of year.
The temperature anomaly forecast shows just how warm we will be Wednesday morning. It has us around 25° to near 30° above average at 6 AM tomorrow. The average low is 27° for tomorrow's date.
Some Spring Thunder May Rumble
The latest GFS model's meteogram shows a bit more active pattern after nine straight dry days. A few showers could arrive here early Wednesday but the best chance for showers and a few thunderstorms will be late Wednesday night into Thursday. Another round of showers and possible thunderstorms are possible late Sunday night into Monday with a third round a week from Wednesday.
This week's round of rain Wednesday night into Thursday could be significant. The GFS model is squeezing out between a few tenths of an inch to nearly an inch of rain in total.
Confidence Grows In Colder Pattern Coming
The long range temperature probability maps have the blues. Both forecasts feature a lot of blue which indicates probabilities favoring below average temperatures overall. The signal is fairly strong for a colder pattern coming next week that will last well into March. The latest 6-10 day temperature probability forecast has us outlooked for below average temperature overall from March 14th through March 18th. The longer range 8-14 day keep us favored for a cooler pattern from March 16th through March 22nd too.
The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) forecast brings a milder end to March. The temperature anomaly forecast for the weekend ending March 26th has us outlooked to be around average for the week. The forecast that looks at the end of March and the start of April has us returning to above average temperatures overall for the week ending on April 2nd.
Precip Pattern Trending Drier?
There isn't any strong signals for us in terms of our precipitation pattern in the longer range forecasts. What signal is there seems to support a shift towards a drier pattern over the next couple of weeks. The 6-10 day forecast favors us for near normal precipitation overall from March 14th through March 18th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast has us outlooked for about average to below average precipitation overall from March 16th through March 22nd too. The risk for spring flooding is above average for many area rivers. More on that below.
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: Becoming partly to mostly sunny, breezy (gusts to 35 mph) High: 69
Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, sct. showers early & late, windy (gusts to 40 mph) Low: 53 High: 64
Thursday: Showers likely, sct. t-storms possible, breezy Low: 58 High: 62 (falling pm)
Friday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 37 High: 54 (cooler near the lake)
Saturday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 33 High: 45 (cooler near the lake)
Sunday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 30 High: 47 (cooler near the lake)
Monday: Mostly cloudy, chance of rain Low: 38 High: 50