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A brand new decade has started off mild here in the Midwest. Temperatures reached 40 about as far north as HWY 20. For most of the Midwest the new year started like a lamb.

Snow cover hindered the warm-up significantly from northern Iowa into Minnesota and Wisconsin. You can see it on the hi-res satellite image below. Without it readings would have been in the 40s well into Minnesota.

Even so, temperatures were 10-25 degrees above normal during the mid to late afternoon from my area off to the northwest.

Thursday promises to be another mild day with highs projected to be about 15-20 degrees above normal. That will again mean 40s from roughly HWY 20 south. Readings will drop a good 10-12 degrees Friday and Saturday behind a cool front sending highs within 5 degrees of normal for early January.

Overall, the next 10-15 days will feature a series of fast moving disturbances. The quick movement and split in the storm track should make it hard for much in the way of cold air to find its way into the central Midwest. It will also impede the return of moisture into any disturbances that make their way through the region.

These are the 5 day temperature departures out to January 16th. If you are ever going to have above normal temperatures this is the time of year you want them. By mid-January we are statistically in the coldest time of the year.

Days 0-5

Days 5-10

Days 10-15...a bit of a cooling trend.

This is the 16 day precipitation departure. You can see the wet southern stream storm track is running well to the south. That will keep the majority of the storminess and heavier precipitation over the Ohio Valley where the jet is more amplified and moisture laden.

The next system set to bring a chance of light precipitation in the form of some snow showers comes Friday night. A couple days ago the models where showing more phasing with the northern and southern branches of the jet. That would have allowed for a more organized storm. Now the southern energy passes weakly off to the south while the northern branch slips southeast across the region Friday night. Hence, the chance of some light snow exists with that feature but mainly from NE Iowa into SW Wisconsin and perhaps far northern Illinois. The EURO has this for snow accumulations. I would not be surprised to see this move a little further northeast in coming runs.

A larger perspective.

The U.S. models are showing little if anything with the northern branch system but I suspect they might be a tad underdone. No matter what, it's a weak system and won't be more than an a minor inconvenience even for those up north who get it.

That's pretty much the nuts and bolts of where things are headed. Hope you all had a fantastic holiday season. The next official holiday isn't for 5 months. Ugh. At least by then it will be warm and all we'll have to worry about is tornadoes. Speaking of that I will be leading another tornado chase in May. If you are interested in finding out times and costs drop me a line at Last year we had an amazing trip and saw the strongest tornado of the year (EF4) near Lawrence, Kansas. What an experience that was! Roll weather...TS

ONLY 4 WEATHER SCHOOL SPOTS STILL UP FOR GRABS: is offering a very special and unique opportunity to learn first-hand the ins and outs of weather forecasting with one of the best meteorologists in the Midwest along with his team of expert meteorologists.

That’s right… You want to forecast right along with Terry Swails, well now you can. He’s teaching weather with TSwails newest program called WEATHER SCHOOL. The opening bell rings this January and you can be a member of the very first graduating class. The one-day forecasting seminar for weather enthusiasts will be held at his home in January. It’s not your typical run-of-the-mill school. There will be no tests, but Terry, Rebecca, and Nick will cram your head with so much knowledge, it’ll be spinning like a tornado before the day is over.

You want to know the essential online sites to use for models, radar, and the basic weather tools? DONE! You want to understand the structure of models and the role they play? DONE! You want to be able to construct forecasts from the ground up? DONE!

WEATHER SCHOOL will be presented in a seminar-type format where you'll have the ability to ask questions and dig deep. You’ll get the scoop on data acquisition, model analysis, severe weather, and actual forecasting from the big dog himself, T. Swails. With 43 years of experience and an uncanny ability to break the science down, you’ll open the door to forecasting like never before.

Along with the head master T. Swails himself, meteorologists Rebecca Kopelman and Nick Stewart of KGAN TV will be there to lend their knowledge and experience to the discussion. It will be fun, informative, and factual! This is the day for you to see, feel, and experience what it’s like to be in the hot seat of a meteorologist.

The seminar will be held January 25th and will last from noon until 5:00pm. We have limited seating and the cost is $99 dollars per person. A catered lunch will be provided. Again..not a lot of seats so reservations with a pre-payment are required. Sorry, no refunds. If there’s enough interest, a second session will be added in early February. To register or get additional information send an email to

GIVE THE GIFT OF WEATHER. This might be the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person this Christmas. Along with a WEATHER SCHOOL admittance voucher, TSwails will send a special holiday greeting to your weather enthusiast if you give the gift of weather with the TSwails touch!



Purpose: To help weather enthusiasts understand the basics of forecasting and apply the knowledge and techniques learned to construct personal forecasts.


The essential on-line sites for models, observations, satellite and radar images, and general weather data.

Session 2: ANALYSIS:

Determining your objective goals. Short term, intermediate, or long-term. Understanding the process of analysis and its relationship to forecasting.

Model options and choices. What to use and when!

The GFS, EURO, NAM 3k, NAM 12K, Canadian, HRRR, MJO, ensembles, teleconnections, etc.

Locating, learning, and knowing what’s essential to make a reliable forecast.

The art and science of model interpretation: Using and understanding model output. Its called guidance for a reason!

Learn how to analyze key parameters such as:

Surface and upper air data

Vorticity and energy

Precipitation output

Wind and pressure


A simulation of the basic process using model output.

BREAK: A 25-30 minute recess to enjoy a catered lunch…


Thunderstorms, tornadoes, derechoes, and squall lines.

Soundings. What are they and why should I care?

Instability (CAPE) vs (CIN) Critical interaction involving moisture, heating, and forcing.

Uncovering the ingredients of a severe weather set-up.

TVS signatures. What to look for on radar.

Role of SPC vs NWS, and your local TV station regarding the warning process.

Simulated model driven forecast of a severe weather event/tornado outbreak


The key ingredients required for significant winter storm:

How to forecast the rain snow line.

How to forecast snow totals from QPF

Determining totals from snow ratios.

What to look for at the surface and at upper levels (500 and 850mb)

Model bias and determining the storm track

Simulated model driven forecast of a significant Midwest winter storm


An open period for attendees to ask questions regarding relevant topics or issues discussed during the day.


Some final words of inspiration from the events headliners

Once again, to reserve a spot or ask questions send an email to See you when the bell rings! Roll weather...T. Swails

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