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  • Tim McGill

Transitioning Back To Wintry Weather

Breezy Today But Not As Windy

After our windy Wednesday it will still be breezy today with gusts near 35 mph. Gusts on Wednesday reached to above 50 mph in many areas and even 60 mph in Waukegan.

Winds will guts to near or just above 30 mph through midday and then begin to fall later this afternoon into this evening.

Afternoon highs today will be in the lower to middle 50s. It will be cooler than the near record high of 69° on Wednesday but still 10° or more above average. We were 1° shy of breaking yesterday's record high of 70° that was set in 1955. We did set at least one record at O'Hare on Wednesday. We had a record high minimum temperature of 57°. That shattered the old record of 52° set waaaaay back in 1876.

The Midwest saw more record highs fall on Wednesday. New records were set from as far south as Oklahoma to as far north as Michigan and eastward to New York state.


Most Of The Country Had An Unusually Cold February

We weren't the only ones that froze in February. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information released their report for February this week. This was the coldest the country has been for the month in more than 30 years. Chicago had it's 19th coldest and 9th snowiest February on record. Despite such a cold February, the entire winter (December through February) ranked among the warmest third of all winters on record for the United States.

Temperatures Trending Colder

It won't be as cold as February but temperatures will be falling over the next several days. After record or near record temperatures the past few days we will fall into the 40s for highs by Sunday and maybe just the 30s by early next week. March has been rather mild so far coming in at just over 8° above average.

Spring Snow Can't Be Ruled Out

It's a tricky forecast this far out for a variety of reasons but snow is certainly possible by early next week. The latest GFS model's meteogram shows snow possibly coming on Monday. That could be followed by a wintry mix that turns to rain on Tuesday. This forecast will be refined as we get closer to the event so stay tuned.

The accumulated snowfall meteogram for O'Hare shows the snowfall forecast from several different models. The range for possible snowfall for Monday is from as little as a half inch to 4.5".

The latest GFS model snowfall accumulation forecast through Monday lays down around 4.5" to just over 6" in northern Illinois. Suburbs well south of the city would be spared if this forecast verifies.

The European model keeps the snow north of here. It only suggests a dusting for areas northwest of the city. Since these two models are not yet in agreement, the confidence for this snowfall is not very high, at least not yet.

ECMWF Model Total Snowfall Accumulation Forecast Through Tuesday Morning (Pivotal Weather)

Turning Corner On Colder Pattern?

The long range temperature probability maps have been consistent in bringing a colder pattern for this weekend and the early part of next week. The latest forecasts suggest we might break out of that pattern and return to a milder March pattern by the last week or two of the month. The latest 6-10 day temperature probability forecast has us outlooked for near normal temperatures overall from March 16th through March 20th. The longer range 8-14 day keep us favored for a cooler pattern above average temperatures overall from March 18th through March 24th.

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.

Settling Into Less Active Pattern

It looks like our precipitation pattern has become more active and will continue that way through at least the early part of next week. The longer range forecasts suggest things may settle down late next week and just beyond. The 6-10 day forecast favors us for below normal precipitation overall from March 16th through March 20th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast has most of Chicago and its suburbs outlooked for about average average precipitation overall from March 18th through March 24th. The exception is areas well southwest of the city that are outlooked to be below average overall. 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: Becoming mostly sunny, breezy (gusts to 30 mph) High: 57

Friday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 37 High: 55 (cooler near the lake)

Saturday: Partly to mostly cloudy Low: 32 High: 51 (cooler near the lake)

Sunday: Partly to mostly cloudy, chance of light rain Low: 36 High: 47 (cooler near the lake)

Monday: Cloudy, chance of rain and snow Low: 32 High: 39

Tuesday: Partly to mostly cloudy. light mix/rain possible Low: 33 High: 35 (cooler near the lake)

Friday: Showers & sct. t-storms mainly early, breezy Low: 57 High: 61 (falling pm)



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