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A LITTLE BREAK FROM SUMMER

Drier air has taken over and it feels pretty nice outside. Now the sun is strong this time of year and it still feels pretty warm but by the numbers it is dry. Dew points (the humidity) Saturday evening were in the 30s and 40s across the Upper Midwest. That is dry air - especially this time of year. Especially feels nice when just a few days prior we were dealing with dew points in the 60s and 70s. This dry air will continue into Sunday... Then, in the upper levels, a big ridge of high pressure moves in and will bring the warm, muggy weather back. As a result here's high temperatures Monday: Then Tuesday: And then on top of that there will be heat index values well into the 90s due to dew po

A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER...

It was hard not to notice the change in the weather around the central Midwest Friday. A cold front which passed by daybreak was followed by much cooler and drier air. The rain which had been an occasional feature all weak long was finally no longer a player aside from a few spotty showers and sprinkles in Wisconsin. On the satellite you can see the leading edge of the cooler air marked by clouds and the cold front from Michigan into Indiana. Late day temperatures were stuck in the 60s over much of my area. A big drop from those mid to upper 80s earlier in the week. NC Wisconsin was fighting to get out of the low to mid 50s! The biggest change was the expected drop in moisture levels. Thursd

IT'S A WRAP FOR THE RAIN AND WARMTH...FOR NOW!

Last night I showed you some data on how wet May has been east of the Mississippi in my area. Northeast Illinois has really been soaked as evidenced by the fact Chicago (now with 9.30") has set its all-time total rainfall record for the month. As soggy as that is it pales in comparison to the wettest month ever which was 17.10" in August of 1987. Here's the all-time monthly records for all months in the Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids. Quad Cities (Moline Airport) Cedar Rapids For the entire state of Illinois, on average these are the all-time wettest months on record.. For the state of Iowa on average the wettest month and year. Thursday was another day where locally heavy rain fell again in m

WHAT GOES UP, MUST GO DOWN...

Despite the rain that's fallen the past couple of weeks, May is running near to slightly below normal in terms of precipitation over eastern Iowa. East of the Mississippi in Illinois, its a different story where most spots are 1 to 5 inches above normal, far too wet for many farmers. These are the mean departures over the past 30 days. Here's a specific look at May rainfall totals. The area around Chicago has been drenched by 6-9 inch amounts. Another look at specific departures around the central Midwest. After another day of scattered showers and storms Thursday (some heavy rain producers) a much needed period of rain free weather will come to the wettest regions over the weekend. This is

A TURN IN THE ROAD AHEAD FRIDAY...

Tuesday was another warm summery day featuring scattered thunderstorms. A tornado watch was even issued for my western counties. Tornado reports were confined to brief small spin ups with no apparent damage. There were a number of thunderstorm warnings but in most instances little more than gusty winds (downbursts) and brief gully washers occurred. Here is what the Storm Prediction Center shows for reports. Rainfall was spirally banded as you can see in the Doppler estimates through Tuesday evening. Some spots picked up 1/2 to an inch of rain while others remained relatively untouched with some isolated locations seeing no rain at all. There was enough sunshine to produce highs in the mid 80

THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR...

Memorial day 2020 was memorable from a weather standpoint for its warm summery conditions. The combination of warmth and humidity that had been lacking all spring finally came together. Highs in most of my area reached the mid 80s, (the highest levels of the year so far). Iowa City topped out at 87 and took honors for the warm spot. These are readings around 3:00 pm. Once convective temperatures were reached in the low to mid 80s storms popped on a scattered basis. You can see the pop corn nature of the convection nicely on the hi-res satellite imagery. It fizzled quickly after sunset. This overall scenario with warm humid conditions and scattered thunderstorms is likely to continue for seve

SUMMERY PATTERN CONTINUES...

I wanted to start on an update about Saturday's tornadoes in Iowa and Illinois. The National Weather Service in the Quad Cities has confirmed five tornadoes. Three EF-1s and two EF-Us (unknown rating, didn't cause enough damage to be rated). You can see more information at this link from the NWS. Now that day was followed by what's been the warmest day of the year so far for a lot of the Upper Midwest on Sunday: Cedar Rapids finally hit 80 degrees for the first time this year. It was the third longest streak without an 80 degree day on record and the latest first 80 since 1973. With that warmth has come moisture and showers and storms. One batch moved through early Sunday morning then more s

TORNADOES SATURDAY, MORE STORMS COMING...

Multiple tornadoes touched down in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin on Saturday, 12 reports so far. Here's a view of the tornado warned storm with the tornado visible from the Iowa City area from Ron Allen: The cell went on to produce into Cedar and Jones counties. One home was damaged in rural Johnson county, and some trees and outbuildings were damaged in Cedar/Jones counties. Into Illinois in Whiteside county there was damage to a home and wires down. Here's the other storm reports from Saturday across the country: A low pressure system moved across the Midwest and with just enough instability showers got going (some thunderstorms). There was a lot of spin from that low pressure system which

IT'S UP, UP, AND AWAY FOR TEMPERATURES...

It wasn't anything to write home about but the long talked of warming trend did get underway around the region Friday. Highs in most of my area broke 70 for the first time in nearly a week.. That's still a few degrees below normal but a sure sign the pattern is trending warmer. As proof I offer the GFS ensemble 16 day temperature outlook for Cedar Rapids which keeps highs in the 74-84 degree range from Saturday May 24th to Sunday June 7th. (a mild 16 day period). Here's what the temperature departures look like for the coming 10 days. Compare that May's departures so far and you can see that's a big reversal from the chilly conditions that have dominated the month so far.. In Cedar Rapids a

WARMER, WITH A SIDE OF STORMS...

Memorial Day weekend is upon us. The tradition of honoring the men and woman who have served our nation will continue but without the parades and gatherings we are used to. Life in America has changed dramatically since the arrival of Covid 19. One thing that remains the same is that Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. Most years the weather has that feel with average highs in my area ranging from 75 north to 79 degrees from north to south. After a week of cool temperatures I'm happy to say we'll see a quick transition to summery conditions this holiday weekend with our first bout of warm muggy weather, especially Sunday and Monday. There are 3 key ingredients to our holiday week

NOTHING LIKE A COLD SHOWER...

I'm having issues with the hot water at my new place here in Maine. Simply put, there is none. After a 4 mile run and a full day renovating an attic I was far from fresh tonight. I'm one of those dudes who hates cold water but I was filthy from head to toe, a shower was a necessary task. I talked myself into a quick one. Never doing that again! If somebody ever wanted to torture me cold water is the way to go. I would sing like a baby. I still haven't recovered more than an hour later. What a bad idea. Anyway, I'm still dealing with that problem and hoping that at the very least luke warm water returns to my house asap. Focusing on the weather scene, Wednesday was another drab day over much

O-MEGA-A MESS...

An omega block situated over the United States has blocked the westerlies from dominating the nations weather as they usually do. You can see what I'm talking about below by following the 500mb jet stream heights. They enter California and then veer directly north over the Rockies into Canada before re-entering the U.S. over the northeast. From here they cut back into the Ohio Valley before sweeping south into the Gulf. When this happens we lose the westerly steering currents and things don't move much. That that is why Tuesday was more or less a repeat of Monday in terms of sensible weather. Going forward the block slowly fills and weakens and that means a gradual return to sunshine and war

GETTING BETTER, PLUS SOME MONEY SHOTS OF MAINE.

All you need to know about the weather in the central Midwest Monday shows up nicely on the mid-day GOES satellite image. Extensive clouds are pinwheeling around an upper-air low that is virtually "creeping" southeast over central Illinois. Clouds, brisk winds, and spotty sprinkles and showers made for another sub-par day. Here's temperatures at 3:00 pm. Not bad if it was an early March day. Normal highs are now in the low to mid 70s and as you can see in the departures we were running 12-17 degrees below that. Fortunately the showers that fell were light and in most spots didn't amount to much. It was a different story to the east though where parts of central and eastern Illinois had some

MAKING UP FOR DRY TIMES....

Prior to the last few days, we had been pretty dry in the Upper Midwest... going back to around mid March. Here's a look at the precipitation totals for April... there really wasn't much. Prior to May 12th, most of my local area had just picked up about a half an inch of rain for start of May. Now we've had some good rainfall events in the area (in some spots a little TOO much). Here's a look at the rainfall totals from the first event, this past Thursday into Friday: And then Saturday to Sunday morning: The heavy rain did lead to flash flooding, particularly in Illinois. We had more rain though the day Sunday and more is expected on Monday, but shouldn't be significant totals. The heavier r

IN THE SWING OF SPRING...

We're finally getting back into the swing of things around here. The first half of May (especially the last 10-ish days) has been not very spring-like at all. Here's a look at the temperature departures for the last week: May has generally been running around 5-9 degrees below normal with high temperatures running even colder. The northwest flow pattern we've been stuck in - which generally promotes cooler air - also leads to drier weather. There hasn't been much rain over the first half of May outside of the storm system that moved through this past Thursday. Here's a look at rainfall for the first half of May: The mild will continue but the active pattern doesn't. Showers and thunderstorms

A COOLER THAN AVERAGE SUMMER...

It's been another chilly, late breaking spring around the Midwest, a trend we've seen far too much of in recent years. These are the temperature departures over the last 2 months, going back to March 13th. The departures are even greater the past 30 days dating back to April 13th With meteorological summer just a couple weeks away (June-August) one has to wonder if this cool pattern will hold in the months ahead. One of the long range outlooks that I find useful that does not get the credit it deserves is the CAS model (constructed analog on soil moisture) CAS - is based on empirical functions from data over the lower 48 states going back to 1932. This tool constructs a soil moisture analog

A SHORT BUT WELCOME REPRIEVE...

As expected Thursday was a wet and wild day in my southern counties with heavy rain and numerous warnings for wind and excessive rains. For the most part the biggest issue was heavy rains and that was anticipated with some 24 hour totals around the 4 inch mark. These are the Doppler estimates ending at midnight Thursday. Much of my area had widespread amounts of 1-2" with pockets of 3-4" where training was a factor.. There were at least 79 reports of severe weather in the central U.S. Thursday with about a third of those found in my area With the storm departing Friday skies will clear from west to east during the day. Highs in most areas should bounce back into the low 70s which typical for

A ONE TWO PUNCH, WET WEATHER AND STRONG STORMS....

The ingredients are coming together for two rain events that will bring much of the region a good soaking between now and Sunday morning. The first event is underway and after a mid-day lull could be capped with some late afternoon and evening thunderstorms in the southeast half of the area. SPC has a slight risk outlook for strong storms in SE IOWA along with much of Illinois and MIssouri The strength of the storms and where they fire will be determined by a warm front that will slowly advance northward during the day. It looks to align closely with I-80 by late afternoon. The 3k NAM shows temperatures in SE Iowa and WC Illinois reaching the low to mid 70s. With dew points potentially hitti

WORTH THE WAIT...

When you see a five day rainfall forecast that looks like the one below, you can bet the farm that the area coated in yellow, orange, and red is situated in what's known as the "baroclinic zone". Essentially that's the area where the fight is on between warm moist air to the south and significantly cooler and drier air to the north. It's the battleground for heavy rain, thunderstorms, and in some cases...severe weather. The contrast associated with the "baroclinic boundary" shows up nicely in the forecast temperature departures Friday. Actual readings at 7:00 am range from the upper 30s in North Dakota to the upper 60s in NE Kansas. The warm sector has the ability to hold far more moisture w

TIME TO FLIP THE SWITCH TO SUMMER...

The past week was short on spring with featuring well below normal temperatures and record cold. Here's the temperature departures for the May so far.. The past 7 days were especially frightful with most of the Midwest 10-15 degrees below normal. We've yet to see a stretch of warm muggy weather this spring which we all know is just a matter of time. In fact, the signs are on the wall and we're likely to get a taste of that in the near future. These are the 10 day temperature departures on the EURO ensembles. That's a dramatic change. A significant re-alignment in the storm track will lead to the increase in temperatures. Look at the 500mb jet stream today with its northwesterly component and

© 2020 Terry Swails