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  • Tim McGill

Some Smoky Sunshine This Weekend

No Extreme Heat In Sight

After 7 straight days with above average temperatures we dropped below average on Thursday with a high of 73°. That drop in temperatures combined with a dramatic drop in dew points made it feel nearly 30° cooler yesterday compared to just the day before.

The HRRR Model has our highs bouncing back to the lower 80s today or just a bit below the average high for this time of the year of 84°.

Another cold front moves through tonight to set us up for a cooler Sunday. Highs tomorrow will slide back into the middle to upper 70s.

While we warm back into the 80s today the dew points stay relatively low in the 50s. They climb into the 60s tonight but drop back into the 50s by midday Sunday.

Light west breezes today and then the wind shifts off the lake tomorrow after the passage of a cold front. Those northeast winds will mean a swim risk along Lake Michigan's shoreline. More on that below.

The best chance of rain over the weekend is tonight into Sunday morning but threat is low overall. Most of this weekend will be rain free.

Our dew points stay relatively comfortable through the weekend. Dew points are the preferred measurement of moisture for meteorologists. They will slowly but steadily rise next week from the 50s Monday to well into the 60s by Friday. It will eventually get more muggy but not as steamy as earlier last week when they soared into the 70s.

The National Blend Of Models keeps us at least a bit below average through Tuesday before we warm back up to average by Wednesday. We finish next week above average and stay above through next weekend into early next week.

The HRRR Model near-surface smoke forecast indicates wildfire smoke primarily from Canada will sink south and bring haze to our skies today into tomorrow. It should give the sun a milky appearance and make for a beautiful sunset as it gives the sun a red hue this evening.

Here are some articles related to wildfire smoke that you may be interested in:

Once we warm back above average by the end of next week we could see that warm pattern sticking around well into the month of August. The 6-10 day forecast has outlooked Chicago for above average temperatures overall from August 5th through August 9th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast continues to favor us for above average temperatures overall from August 7th through August 13th. Average highs are in the lower to middle 80s for the end of July and start to August.

The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) temperature anomaly forecasts keeps us around average for the week ending on August 13th with areas just west and south of us expected to be cooler than average. The following week we are forecast to move back above average. The forecast for the week ending on August 20th favors us for above average temperatures overall.

Our Close Call Last Week

Wisconsin was hammered Wednesday night into Thursday morning with numerous severe storms. Milwaukee's National Weather Service has an excellent review of the severe weather that swept from the Northwoods to the Illinois border. Wisconsin governor Tony Evers declared a state of emergency on Thursday which allowed the Wisconsin National Guard to help in the cleanup from storms that caused considerable damage and killed one person.

Five tornadoes struck the state with three of them just west of Milwaukee. The strongest tornado was reported in Concord which is less than 50 miles from the Illinois state line. The estimated peak winds were 105 mph with this storm.

When Waves Are High, Stay Dry

Gusty northeast winds will continue whip up big waves Sunday into Monday. Those waves could peak at near 7 feet Sunday afternoon. Large waves and dangerous rip currents mean a high swim risk. A beach hazards statement is in effect from 7 am Sunday until 7 am Monday.

Stay tuned and check the forecast if you are headed to the beaches this week.

Latest Drought Analysis

We are now down 1.68" of rain below average for July at O'Hare and around 6 inches below since the start of spring. The forecast for the next ten days doesn't offer much hope for help with the drought in our northern suburbs.

Here is a recap of the latest drought analysis that I posted on Friday:

The latest analysis from the US Drought Monitor shows absolutely no change in drought levels for northern Illinois. The area of Illinois in a moderate drought (level 1 out of 4) remains unchanged at 7.17%. The area of the state in a severe drought (level 2 out of 4) remains unchanged at 2.31%.

It has been a fairly dry end to the month of July so far. Rainfall over a two week period that ended on July 28th shows the most parched portions of Illinois were out of luck when it came to rainfall. Parts of Lake and McHenry counties picked up just 10% to 25% of average rainfall during the period. Most of the northern third of the state was well below average in terms of rainfall.

The latest GFS model suggests a few scattered showers and thunderstorms Saturday night into early Sunday. It also has a chance for more rain Monday, Wednesday into Wednesday night and then Thursday night into Friday.

There may be several shots at rain but when you add it all up, it doesn't amount to much in terms of total rainfall.

The GFS model total rainfall forecast through next Saturday only squeezes out between a couple tenths to about a third of an inch of rain.

The Midwest region saw improvements in one drought level but more discouraging news for two others. The area in a moderate drought fell .18% to 27.33% for the state. The area in a severe drought increased .82% to 16.74%. The area in an extreme drought increased .60% to 3.73%.

The west is still suffering from a serious drought that has expanded in two out of the four drought levels and has shrunk in two others. Both the moderate and severe drought area has expanded slightly while the extreme and exceptional drought areas have decreased at least slightly. The most substantial shift was in the highest drought level. The area in an exception drought fell from 28.03% to 24.63%.

Our relatively dry stretch of weather may linger all the way through the first weekend of August. The latest 6-10 day forecast has the Chicago area favored for below average precipitation overall from August 5th through August 9th. The area is divided for the longer range 8-14 day forecast with Chicago right under the dividing line. North and northwest of the city is favored for near normal rainfall August 7th through August 13th while areas south and southwest of Chicago are favored for above average rainfall.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Partly to mostly sunny High: 82

Sunday: Spotty shower possible early then mostly sunny Low: 64 High: 78 (cooler lakeside)

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 61 High: 76 (cooler lakeside)

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 60 High: 80 (cooler lakeside)

Wednesday: Mostly sunny Low: 63 High: 83 (cooler lakeside)

Thursday: Mostly sunny Low: 65 High: 86 (cooler lakeside)

Friday: Mostly sunny Low: 60 High: 85 (cooler lakeside)


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