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  • Tim McGill

This Winter Has Officially Become More Miserable

Moving The Needle In The Wrong Direction

Our winter took a turn for the worse in terms of snowfall about two weeks ago. 5.3" of snow fell on January 26th, the most from a single winter storm up to that point. Over the course of nearly two weeks since then a total of just over 23" of snow has fallen. We are now nearly 10" above average to date this winter.

Our winter took a turn for the worse in terms of temperature about four days ago. The average high the past four days has been 13° or nearly 20° below average. Our average low during that period is 1°. Our average low is around 18° this time of year.

So it should be no surprise that our winter has now officially become more miserable. The Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index (AWSSI) keeps a running tally on just how extreme a winter a certain location is having. It is more commonly known as the "misery index". The categories it uses to rank winters from the least miserable to the most include "mild", "moderate", "average", "severe" and "extreme". We have just been bumped out of the "mild" category into the "moderate" category. There is more "misery" in our forecast for the next several days with more Arctic air and snow in the forecast.

Today will be another day with temperatures well below average. Highs today will again be nearly 20° below average as we top out in the middle teens this afternoon.

A Round Of Record Cold Coming?

The GFS model brings historic cold into Chicago by Monday morning. The model suggests lows could plummet to as cold as -19° to -27° in northern Illinois and Indiana. The record low at O'Hare for Monday was set in 1905 when the temperature dropped to -9°. I don't expect temperatures to drop that dramatically. The model will probably bump those temperatures up as we get closer to that date but there is no doubt another bitter blast of Arctic air is coming.

The GFS model temperature anomaly forecast for next Monday morning shows we won't be the only ones shivering through a frigid start to next week. The vast majority of the country will be experiencing temperatures well below average. The biggest drop below average will be centered over the Chicago area with temperatures around 40° to 47° below normal.

More Sticking Snow

Our active snowfall pattern should continue at least through the weekend. The GFS model's meteogram shows the best chances for additional snowfall come late Thursday into early Friday morning and then Saturday into Sunday. This is focused on O'Hare so snowfall well north or south of there is not reflected on this particular forecast. There is some light snow in the forecast for Wednesday mainly well south of the city too.

The accumulated snowfall meteogram shows the range of snowfall predictions from several models. It shows a dusting to a few inches possible with our system coming later Thursday into Friday and an additional several inches possible with the weekend system.

The GFS model total snowfall accumulation through Monday morning spits out a range of 4" to just over 8" through the period. This is assuming a 10 to 1 snowfall to liquid ratio when in reality this will be a fluffier snow so these numbers are probably underestimating the actual snowfall.

The European model has lighter amounts of snow through Monday morning. It suggests around 2" to 4" here. This is also using a 10 to 1 snow to liquid ratio so these numbers need to be bumped up a bit.

Winter Blues Continue

The blues on our long range temperature probability forecasts are now almost completely covering the country. Blue indicates areas that are favored for below average temperatures overall. The darkest blues have the highs probability of colder than average temperatures. Chicago is close to both the darkest blue bullseyes on these longer range forecasts. The latest 6-10 day temperature probability forecast has the Chicago area outlooked for below average temperatures overall from February 14th through February 18th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast continues to keep us outlooked for below average temperatures overall from February 16th through February 22nd.

The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) forecast keeps this February frigid here through the end of the month and keeps the colder air coming into the start of March. The forecasts for both the week ending February 26th and the week ending March 5th have us favored for below average temperatures overall. The bullseye is again centered right over Chicago and the Midwest.

Precip Pattern Staying Active?

We've been seeing an active pattern for snowfall and signs are it may continue. 10 of the past 16 days have seen snowfall with at least a trace. The 6-10 day forecast favors us for above average precipitation overall from February 14th through February 18th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast has us outlooked for around average precipitation overall from February 16th through February 22nd. The percentages aren't high but they do lean towards more precipitation than average.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Partly to mostly sunny High: 15

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, light snow mainly south Low: 4 High: 18

Thursday: Mostly cloudy, light snow Low: 7 High: 18

Friday: Mostly cloudy Low: 6 High: 15

Saturday: Cloudy, light snow Low: 2 High: 11

Sunday: Cloudy, chance of light snow early Low: -3 High: 9

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: -9 High: 7



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