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  • Tim McGill

The Drought Barely Budges

Talking Fall-Like Temperatures First

It felt a lot more like fall on Thursday instead of the middle of summer. O'Hare's high of just 68° was the coolest we have seen since May 29th. It shouldn't be quite as cool today. Instead of nearly 20° below average like yesterday, today should be about 10° below average The HRRR model has our highs today topping out only in the middle 70s for most of us and near 70° along the lakefront. Average highs for today's date are 85°.

It was less muggy on Thursday as reflected in our dew points that have dropped into the 50s. Dew points are the preferred measurement of moisture for meteorologists. Dew points will stay in the 50s through Saturday morning and then climb into the 60s for the remainder of the day.

A cool breeze will continue off Lake Michigan through the weekend. It will be a bit breezy Saturday afternoon. This wind along with extensive cloud cover and occasional rain will keep us cooler than average.

The best chance of rain over the next two days will be Saturday afternoon and night.

A beach hazards statement continues for the beaches of Cook County from 1 pm today. It lingers a little longer for the beaches of northern Indiana.

North and northeast winds will whip up waves as big as 3 to 5 feet and generate dangerous rip currents.

The National Blend Of Models keeps us cooler than average through Tuesday. Seasonably warm weather returns Wednesday and lasts through the following weekend.

Sunday should be the coolest day of the next eleven. Middle 70s for highs means it will be about 10° below average. Portions of the Midwest and plains will be 25° below average. It's just the opposite out west as they brace for temperatures between 10° to 20° above average.

The longer range temperature probability forecasts continue to favor the Chicago area for an above average middle of the month. The 6-10 day forecast has outlooked us for above average temperatures overall from July 14th through July 18th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast also favors us for above average temperatures overall from July 16th through July 22nd. Average highs are in the middle 80s for the middle of July.

The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) temperature anomaly forecasts doesn't have a very strong signal for the last two weeks of July. The average highs for this period are in the middle 80s. The temperature anomaly forecast for the week ending July 23rd has us outlooked for temperatures slightly above average. It takes a keen eye to see the pixel representing the Chicago area is shaded in light yellow. A stronger signal for a warmer end of the month is found just north of here and out in the western US. The forecast for the following week ending on July 30th also has Chicago outlooked for about average temperatures. We remain between the stronger warm signal north and west of here and a strong cool signal south of Chicago.

Only Slight Drought Improvement

June gave us some hope for putting a real dent in our drought. We received nearly 7" of rain or 2.68" of rain above average. July has started off bone dry. We have received only a trace of rain through the first eight days. We are 1.81" above average for rainfall since June 1st but 5.18" below average since March 1st, the start of meteorological spring. The latest US Drought Monitor analysis released this week shows only slight improvement for our drought situation in northern Illinois.

Comparing this week's analysis to last week's shows only the slightest improvement. The portions of Illinois in a moderate drought (level 1 of 4) dropped from 7.55% to 7.40%. The severe drought area (level 2 of 4) remains unchanged at 2.22%. The extreme drought area (level 3 of 4) is unchanged at .96%.

Much of our already parched portions of northern Illinois saw between 0% to 5% of average rainfall for the first week of July.

The GFS model offers some hope for help with the drought over the next several days. Showers today should stay mainly west and southwest of the city but the rain chances ramp up here later Saturday and during the day Sunday. More rounds of rain possible next Thursday into Friday and the following weekend.

The GFS model total rainfall forecast through this Saturday morning squeezes out barely any rain today for most of the area with most of the rainfall expected to stay well west and southwest of Chicago.

I ran the model out through the Monday morning to include any weekend rainfall. This looks a little more promising for some widespread rain. Most of the area is forecast to see between about eight tenths of an inch to around a quarter and a third of an inch of rain.

The longer range precipitation probability forecasts is still showing a fairly strong signal for a wetter than average period coming up. The latest 6-10 day forecast has the Chicago area favored for above average precipitation overall from July 14th through July 18th with the highest probabilities over our area. The longer range 8-14 day forecast also has us favored for above average precipitation overall from July 16th through July 22nd.

The Midwest as a region overall saw the drought deepen. The portion of the region in a moderate drought dropped by only .03% but the portion in a severe drought nearly doubled. The small portion in an extreme drought remains unchanged.

The West saw an increase three out of four drought categories. The areas in a moderate, severe and extreme drought increased while the are in an exceptional drought diminished by only .26%. More than 93% of the region is in a moderate drought on the low range of intensity and on the high end over a quarter of the region is in an exceptional drought.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: AM spotty showers mainly west & southwest, cloud & sun mix High: 76 (70 lakeside)

Saturday: Mostly cloudy, scattered showers & t-storms Low: 63 High: 78 (cooler lakeside)

Sunday: Showers likely with a few thunderstorms Low: 66 High: 75 (cooler lakeside)

Monday: Partly to mostly cloudy, sct. showers/t-storms Low: 67 High: 79

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny, sct. shower or t-storm possible Low: 68 High: 82

Wednesday: Partly to mostly sunny, sct. shower or t-storm possible Low: 69 High: 87

Thursday: Partly to mostly cloudy, sct. showers & t-storms Low: 70 High: 83



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