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  • Tim McGill

Riding The Spring Rollercoaster

The Rise Before The Fall

Strap in for a spring rollercoaster ride with temperatures over the next week or so. It will feel more like April than March for the next few days. Highs today through Wednesday will be around 20° above average. Today will be the warmest day of the year so far and the warmest in nearly four months. Look for highs in the lower to middle 60s. The only exception is areas northwest of the city with a more stubborn snowpack. Highs there will be closer to 60°.

Winds will be the key to our warm up. They were off the lake over the weekend but for most of today they will blow out of the southwest to bring warmth all the way up to the lakefront. Tonight they will briefly blow back off the lake so temperatures will tumble near and along the lakefront for a few hours. We will see gusty at least through Wednesday. Today and tomorrow they will gust to near 30 mph but the strongest winds arrive Wednesday. Look for gusts then to reach 40 mph or even stronger.

First 60s Of Spring

The start of this week will features temperatures we normally see in the middle of April. Expect 60s for highs through Wednesday before we fall back into the 50s on Thursday and fall into the 40s by the weekend. Some models suggest we might even drop into the 30s by Sunday. Average highs for this time of the year are around 43°.

The temperature anomaly forecast shows how dramatic our warm up will be by Wednesday morning. The record high minimum temperature for Wednesday morning is 52°. We have the potential to break that record with lows Wednesday morning in the lower to middle 50s. The forecast shows temperatures early in the day nearly 25° to 30° above average. Average lows for Wednesday morning are around 27°.

Thunder & Snow Both In The Forecast

The latest GFS model's meteogram shows the next chance of rain coming Wednesday. Most models have some showers early in the day but heavier rain coming Wednesday night and Thursday. The GFS model also suggests a mix of rain and snow is possible next Monday.

Thursday's rainfall could be significant. The GFS precipitation accumulation forecasts lays down a range of rainfall from around three quarters of an inch for most areas but well over an inch south and southeast of the city.

The snowfall amounts indicated by the models would be light. A couple models bring in some light snow early Sunday that would be mixed with rain. This first round would be under a half inch. A few models bring in more than an inch of snow with the next round early Monday. Both chances of snow are still several days away so these numbers will change. Stay tuned.

Cooler Pattern Coming?

The longer range temperature forecasts are tough to take after our early taste of April this week. They are signaling a return to a cooler pattern for the middle of the month and just beyond. The latest 6-10 day temperature probability forecast has us outlooked for below average temperature overall from March 13th through March 17th. The longer range 8-14 day keep us favored for a cooler pattern through the third week of the month. The forecast from March 15th through March 21st also has us favored for below average temperatures overall.

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.

Around Average Precipitation Pattern

Most of the country is forecast to either have below average precipitation or above average overall during the middle of this month. Chicago is forecast to be right around average. The 6-10 day forecast favors us for near normal precipitation overall from March 13th through March 17th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast has us outlooked for about average precipitation overall from March 15th through March 21st too. The risk for spring flooding is above average for many area rivers. More on that below.

Springing Forward

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: Partly to mostly cloudy, breezy & milder High: 63

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny, breezy Low: 37 High: 64

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, sct. showers early & late, windy Low: 53 High: 64

Thursday: Showers likely, sct. t-storms possible Low: 53 High: 60 (falling pm)

Friday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 38 High: 50 (cooler near the lake)

Saturday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 33 High: 46 (cooler near the lake)

Sunday: AM light rain/snow possible, partly cloudy Low: 30 High: 43 (cooler near the lake)



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