MY LAST FULL DAY IN IOWA...

A big old spring storm brought a lousy day of weather to my area Wednesday. One that was worse in my eastern counties where clouds, wind, and chilly temperatures combined to produce a very sub-par day. Here's what the storm looked like at the surface with a tight circulation center in Michigan wrapping in the unwanted dismal conditions. This is what the storm looked like from over 20,000 miles in space on the GOES hi-res satellite. A dry slot evident feeding into the low pressure center in WC Michigan. The well organized system can be seen wrapping rain back into my eastern counties in Illinois. The Doppler estimates of rainfall show some amounts in excess of 2 inches east of the Mississippi

KEEPING A SAFE DISTANCE...

While we did see scattered thunderstorms around the area Tuesday the main thrust of the severe weather was further south where it's been all spring. A moderate severe weather risk was issued by SPC for parts of Oklahoma and Texas. That's at least the 5th moderate risk day of 2020 which is a significant number through April. However, the real heart of the season lies ahead. Many of the storms have been clustered over the southeast third of the nation. That's due in large part to a couple key factors. One, there has been plenty of late season cold. These are the April temperature departures. Notice how the southern extent of the cold correlates with the location of the highest frequency of twi

NEXT STORM UP...

This is the time of year when you expect the weather to be active around the Midwest and we've certainly had that going for us the past 2 weeks. After a short 2 day break the next storm is knocking on the door and is set to bring showers and storms (perhaps a strong one or two) back to the area Tuesday. As you can see in the 500mb upper air depiction the short wave is a strong one with ample energy. It eventually develops a closed circulation. Out ahead of the trough moisture is rapidly streaming northward Tuesday which is depicted as precipitable water vapor There's also a surface low to reckon with that enters my area late in the afternoon. When it arrives temperatures are forecast to be a

ACTIVE START TO THE WEEK...

We had a nice, mild, mostly dry weekend across the Upper Midwest. Sunday capped it off beautifully with temperatures well above normal and plenty of sunshine... Temperatures will still be running mild Monday as a warm front starts to lift through the area. Some rain will be possible in the late morning/early afternoon ahead of the front. Temperatures will then climb up after the rain moves out and there's some clearing of the clouds: There may be a few scattered showers and storms late Monday night with more storms likely on Tuesday as a cold front sweeps through. There is the potential for some strong storms Tuesday afternoon, but the question is how much instability and moisture will be pr

SPRING TAKES THE WHEEL....

It looks like we're leaving winter behind and spring is taking over now. We've had some ups and downs still, but it looks like spring is going to be in full force as we head into next week. Sunday is going to be nice and dry with temperatures running near normal. There will likely still be some ups and downs in the temperatures as we head into the next week or so, but we're seeing less of the big drops in temperatures and temperatures not straying terribly far from normal. The main reason for the temperature changes is an active pattern. Our next system moves in Monday and will bring showers and thunderstorms: Then a cold front sweeps through Tuesday with more showers and storms: We'll have

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY...

The weather has been active around the central U.S. the last 36 hours and remains that way Saturday as a well organized storm system works it way from the Midwest into the Ohio Valley. In advance of this storm, a weaker disturbance brought showers and storms to much of the area Thursday night and Friday morning. I had another round of showers and storms at my place that produced some sharp cloud to ground lightning. In spots, rainfall was greater than a half inch but in general around my area was 1/4 inch or less. Saturday's storm is far better organized and shows up this way on the high-res satellite imagery Friday night. Severe weather is pounding parts of Oklahoma and Texas with rain exte

THE WEEKEND STARTS LAME BUT ENDS STRONG...

On the satellite Thursday evening you can see a skinny band of clearing over central Iowa. Otherwise, much of the eastern U.S. is unsettled and the next storm to impact the Midwest is already bringing clouds and rain into western Iowa.That's the system that will get our weekend off to a damp and dreary start Friday. Light rain, (if it's not already falling in your area around daybreak) will sweep through the region Friday morning. By afternoon as the system tracks southeast it is expected to end in the north but could linger near and south of I-80 into afternoon. As the surface low turns east Friday night it should be close enough to keep lingering showers going into early Saturday morning s

PANDEMICS AND SUN SPOTS...

Here's something weird. We are currently at what's called a solar minimum. In other words, the number of spots on the sun is at the lowest level in 100 years. Scientist have long touted the 11 year sunspot cycle where we usually see a pageant of magnetic energy that's great for the northern lights and and the men and women that study all things solar. But going a step further, scientists think the 11-year cycle might be part of a larger one. Historical records show weak minimum cycles at the turn of century back to 1700.so it could be that the solar cycle tapers every 100 years or so in what’s known as the Gleissberg Cycle. It’s not easy to establish the existence of a cycle that turns over

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE JOURNEY...

After mentioning in yesterday's post that I was packing for a move to Portland, Maine I was bombarded with two questions. Why Portland and will I still keep TSwails.com up and running? I'll start with the site. Yes, TSwails will remain a daily fixture. I plan to keep forecasting for the Midwest since I'll still have access to the same data in Maine that I use for making forecasting here. I see no reason why I can't maintain the same standard of quality. That is very important to me. Also, many of you paid a voluntary subscription fee of $12 dollars a year back in September so I'm honoring that commitment as well being a man of my word! We (Carolyn, Eden, and I) also think it might be fun to

I JUST WANT SOME WARM WEATHER...

For much of the winter the MJO (Madden Julien Oscillation), a long range forecast index based on convective trends in the tropical Pacific remained in phases that were not conducive for cold air outbreaks. As a result, we enjoyed a very mild winter here in the Midwest. Now that we are already for the warm days of spring, the MJO is not cooperating. The past week with our snow and record to near record cold we've been in the chill of phase 1. Below you can see the MJO index (dotted green line) is projected to depart phase 1 where we are today, zip through 2, and head into an extended stay in 3 to close out the month. That's not great news as you can readily see below how phase 3 is a strong

YOU KNOW THE SAYING...

April showers bring May flowers. And this time we're talking rain and not the snow that has been common as of late. We're in the spring mode now and with the warmth comes moisture and instability -- the ingredients for thunderstorms. Monday will be mostly dry and warm ahead of a cold front: The cold front will move through late Monday evening and into the night. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will develop along the front: Temperatures get knocked back some on Tuesday, but there will be plenty of sunshine at least! The warmth is back on Wednesday and temperatures get sent well above normal ahead of another cold front. That front brings more of those April showers... there will be the cha

BACK TO REALITY...

We have been far from spring recently in the Midwest. Last week was filled with snow and a big chill. Temperatures have been running *well* below normal over the last seven days. The peak for my local area was the strong late-season winter storm that produced over a foot of snow in parts of southern Iowa. Now that snow from Thursday night is just a distant memory. A strong southwest wind propelled temperatures back toward normal levels... and well above freezing. The snow stood no chance on Saturday. The warmth will continue into the new week. There will be a weak cold front that slides through early Sunday morning so temperatures will be slightly cooler than Saturday. However, the wind won'

SNOWFLAKES ON THE CROCUS...

Figuring it was the last I would see of it for at least 6 months, I stayed up late Thursday night and watched it snow. Big flakes and a light wind allowed the snow to float down at a rhythmic pace. It was kind of mesmerizing and certainly pretty. Here's a shot of the Old Capital in Iowa City with spring crocus in the foreground. Flocked trees were everywhere and spectacular in the early morning Friday. This one is sporting quite a load in south-central Iowa As you can see the worst of the storm was over the southern third of Iowa extending into far northern Missouri and WC Illinois. Bedford, Iowa racked up 13.5 for the highest total in the central Midwest. Some additional snowfall reports. T

WINTER GOES OUT WITH A BANG...

For most of Iowa south of I-80 on into northern Missouri and WC Illinois this is one of snowiest mornings (if not the snowiest ever) for so late in the season. A potent storm loaded with spring moisture and rich dynamics has turned the tables on spring. By 9:00 pm. Thursday evening Decatur City in SC Iowa had picked up 12,0" of snow. Nearby Garden Grove had 10". The heavy wet snow was coming down at the rate of 2" per hour. The Storm Prediction Center went so far as to put out a mesoscale discussion for the intense snowfall rates. Fascinating to be seeing this April 16-17th! HEAVY SNOW DISCUSSION Areas affected...Southeast Nebraska...southern Iowa... northern Missouri...and far west central

STRONG WINTER STORM ON TRACK FOR TONIGHT...

The new models runs are in and I don't see anything that's dramatically different. One minor change was the fact the EURO made about a 30 mile shift north on the snow band which gets the 2" line near or north of HWY 30. It should add another inch or perhaps two to the I-80 corridor as well. Winter Storm Warnings are out for tonight and early Friday to the south if I-80. They are converted to winter weather advisories for a row of counties along and north of I-80 including places like Iowa City and the Quad Cities.. There is some chance depending on the final track these could be adjusted northward a county by the NWS. Speaking of the NWS, I like what they have issued for a snowfall forecast

SPRING SNOWSTORM, SOUTHERN STYLE...

If you are in my northern counties, especially north of HWY 30 the coming storm will be nothing more than a close call without so much as a snowflake. If you're in the south, especially south of I-80 get ready for a potent spring snowstorm that could dump up to 8" of snow along the HWY 34 corridor Thursday night. For some, in far southern Iowa, WC Illinois, and extreme northern Missouri this could be one for the record books as far as late season snowstorms go. This is the Winter Storm Severity Index issued from the Weather Prediction Center. You can see in the orange an red shades where moderate to major impacts are expected. In far southern Iowa significant tree and power outages are possi

FRESH THOUGHTS ON SNOW...

Just a quick update on the snowfall potential Thursday night. First and foremost, there is going to be snow...no worries there. The issue is precisely where and how much. For sure the area north of HWY 30 gets a pass. Based on all the data I've looked at today the best chances for 2 or more inches appears to be from I-80 south. (4-7" totals are possible 30 miles either side of HWY 34 in SE Iowa and WC Illinois). Here are the odds of an inch or more from the Weather Prediction Center. I would have them at 95% in southern Iowa but you get the idea. The models are split into 2 camps. The high resolution CAMS (NAM and 3k NAM) which are further north and the a hodge podge of others including the

MORE SNOW, THIS TIME FURTHER SOUTH...

Before I get to the potential snow I wanted to briefly touch in the cold. Tuesday was another raw spring day around the region with temperatures at early March levels. In Cedar Rapids things started bad with a reading of 20 degrees. That tied the record low for the date set in 1950! In northwest Iowa at Rock Rapids with a healthy snow cover, the low reached 7 degrees. That my friends is dang cold for April 14th. On this enhanced satellite imagery you can see in red where snow is on the ground. What a difference that makes. Here's some more record reports from NE Iowa, SE Minnesota, and a bit of SW Wisconsin. During the day Tuesday temperatures all around the Midwest were 18-25 degrees below

SHORT ON WARMTH, AND STILL A BIT FLAKY FOR SOME...

I'll start you off with a satellite image which was taken early Monday when skies were clear in many areas. That bright mass of white from NW Iowa into Minnesota and Wisconsin is snow that's covering the ground from the weekend storm. Look at the sharp cut-off to the southern edge in Iowa. It went from nothing to 6"+ in a hurry. Here's some of the totals which got into that 8-12" range in a narrow band. Impressive for mid-April! You can see the snow ran from the Rockies all the way to the upper Great Lakes. The most reported was near Marquette, Michigan where Little Lake measured 20" along with 45 mph winds. That's impressive any time of the year let alone April 13th. With this event seasona

THE MAINE CONNECTION...

The Swails are embarking on a Grand Family Adventure. We are headed out to the East Coast to learn the seafaring life. Check out the video below for all the details!

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