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  • Tim McGill

Showing My Stripes & Real Drought Relief Coming

The Optics Of Climate Change

A picture is worth a thousand words and this picture of “warming stripes” says a whole lot about our warming world. Each stripe in the image above represents the global land and sea surface temperature departure from the 20th century average for a particular year. The stripes are a snapshot of the earth's temperature for a particular year. Earth has a fever that is getting dangerously worse.

The stripes are a visual way to put into perspective the change in our earth's climate over the past 170 years. A blue hued stripe means that year was cooler than the 20th century average while a white stripe corresponds to a year right at average and a red hued stripe signifies a year where the global temperature was above average. The optics aren't good when it comes to visualizing global temperature data. University of Reading's Ed Hawkins came up with this way to display data that clearly points to a world that is warming dramatically.

Monday marked the the 4th annual #ShowYourStripes. It's a day designed for not only for meteorologists like me to inform people about the realities of climate change but anyone who is concerned about our climate. I had intended to show my stripes on Monday but the tornadoes that struck Sunday meant I had to delay this post until today.

Chicago's stripes are shown in the image below. The stripes for some cities show a more clear and dramatic warming pattern while a few parts of the world are actually cooling. The global stripes graphic though can't be denied. Our planet is warming and the pace of that warming has accelerated in recent years. Climate change has become a climate crisis (some would say a climate emergency) and Twitter's new weather service Currently addresses this. It is trying to build a weather service for the climate crisis we find ourselves in.

The most recent global climate report for May issued by NOAA is another in a long series of reports that shows our world is warming up. May 2021 marked the 45th consecutive May and the 437th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average. That means if you are 36 years old or younger you have never lived on earth when the global temperature was not above the 20th century average.

Year-to-date or the period from January through May ranks as the 8th warmest such period on record. 2021 is all but guaranteed to rank among the 10 warmest years on record.

Warmer & More Muggy

O'Hare fell just shy of 80° on Wednesday. The high of 79° was 4° below average. Yesterday was just the 6th day this month out of 23 that has come in below average. More seasonable warmth is coming but no extreme heat in the forecast through all of next week. The HRRR model has our highs today topping out in the lower 80s.

The rising dew points explain why it is feeling more muggy. Dew points are the preferred measurement of moisture for meteorologists. They have been climbing slowly but surely. Today they will increase from the 50s to the 60s and tomorrow they jump from the 60s to the 70s. This increase in moisture will fuel periods of showers and thunderstorms for the next several days.

South and southwest winds are delivering this warmth and muggy air. Those winds will be breezy at times the next couple of days at least.

Our rain chances ramp up around midday today and stay fairly high through Friday and on into the weekend.

The National Blend Of Models has highs around or a bit above average (83°) with lower to middle 80s expected today and all the way through next week.

The long range temperature probability forecasts keeps that seasonable warmth going right into the first week of July. The 6-10 day forecast has outlooked us for about average temperatures overall from June 29th through July 3rd. The longer range 8-14 day forecast also favors us for near normal temperatures overall from July 1st through July 7th.

The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) temperature anomaly forecast favors us for above average temperatures overall for the first half of July. The average highs for this period are in the lower to middle 80s. The temperature anomaly forecast for the week ending July 9th has us outlooked for above average temperatures overall. The forecast for the following week ending on July 16th also has Chicago outlooked for above average temperatures overall too. It takes a close look at this second map to see we are the exception for Illinois. Most of the state is outlooked for about average or below average temperatures.

Real Drought Relief Is Coming

We are now up .42" above average for June rainfall but the rainfall deficit since March 1st is still over 6 inches below average. The unsettled pattern that settles in today and continues at least through this weekend offers our best hope yet for not just putting a dent in the drought but maybe bringing some parched portions of northern Illinois out of the drought completely. The locally heavy rain that is expected at times could even lead to some flooding.

I'll have an update on our drought and the latest analysis from the U.S. Drought Monitor in this Friday's post.

Here is a recap of my post from last week with details on our drought that does not include our recent rain:

Our ongoing drought in northern Illinois has both deepened and expanded according to the latest analysis from the US Drought Monitor. Almost 3% of the region is now in an extreme drought for the first time this year. That's the third of four levels of drought with "exceptional" being the fourth or worst level. 6.43% of Illinois is now in a severe drought (up from 4.58% last week). 9.18% of the state is in a moderate drought (up from 8.52% last week). The worst of the drought is centered in the northeast corner of the state and includes most of Lake County, all of McHenry county and portions of Cook, Kane, DeKalb and Boone counties. This does not take into consideration the rain that fell Thursday night into Friday morning.

Last Friday's post also included a look at Wisconsin, the Midwest and where the drought is hitting hardest, the western states.

The GFS model suggests an active period starting this afternoon and continuing through Sunday. There will be periods of showers and thunderstorms each day with some locally heavy rainfall possible. The exact timing and positioning of this potentially heavy rain is difficult with this kind of weather pattern but many of us will see substantial rain at least cumulatively through the weekend.

Some of the storms later today and Friday could be strong to severe. The Storm Prediction Center has placed us in a marginal risk area for severe weather for the next two days. A marginal risk means isolated severe thunderstorms possible that would be limited in duration and/or coverage and/or intensity.

Large hail and damaging winds are the biggest threat from possible severe storms today and tomorrow.

The GFS model total rainfall forecast through the weekend has the highest rainfall amounts south of the city. It squeezes out about three quarters of an inch to an inch of rainfall north and northwest of Chicago, around three inches in the city itself and over four inches well south of the city.

The European model squeezes out even higher amounts of rain through this weekend. It has a range of rainfall here from around three inches in Chicago to nearly seven inches west of the city.

The long range precipitation probability forecasts start off with around average rainfall and then trend to above average. The latest 6-10 day forecast has the Chicago area outlooked for around average precipitation overall from June 29th through July 3rd. The longer range 8-14 day forecast also favors us (slightly) for above average precipitation overall from July 1st through July 7th.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Mostly cloudy, mainly pm sct. showers & t-storms, breezy High: 81

Friday: Periods of showers & thunderstorms, heavy rain possible Low: 71 High: 82

Saturday: Periods of showers & thunderstorms, heavy rain possible Low: 68 High: 81

Sunday: Mostly cloudy, sct. showers & t-storms Low: 67 High: 80 (cooler lakeside)

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny, sct. showers/t-storm possible Low: 65 High: 82 (cooler lakeside)

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny, sct. shower/t-storm possible Low: 66 High: 84 (cooler lakeside)

Wednesday: Partly to mostly sunny, sct. shower/t-storm possible Low: 66 High: 83 (cooler lakeside)



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