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A HISTORIC DAY FOR WARMTH AND SEVERE WEATHER...
Thursday was a rather historic day for a couple of reasons. First there was the warmth, which in most places broke records by several degrees. In Cedar Rapids, the high of 66 broke the previous record of 57 (set in 1925) by 9 degrees. Are you kidding me! Burlington soared to 68 and Muscatine was the warm spot with an unofficial high of 70 degrees. That's about 90 degrees warmer than a month ago when lows were near 20 below. Wow!
The warmth led to just enough instability for scattered strong late afternoon thunderstorms Thursday, some moving at speeds of nearly 60 mph. At least 28 reports of hail, some as large as ping pong balls, were received. See the green dots below. A supercell in Putnam County, Illinois produced a tornado outside of Henry, Illinois. The NWS will do a damage survey in that area Friday.
The NWS in the Quad Cities indicates this is only the 2nd tornado confirmed within its service area during the month of February. The other date was February 28th, 2017 when 4 twisters touched down. The only other time tornadoes were reported earlier was January 24, 1967 (15 tornadoes), and January 16th of last year (2 tornadoes). Below, you can see the cold front that ignited the strong storms between 2:30 and 6:00pm.
This is the Davenport NWS Doppler showing the couplet near Henry that produced the confirmed tornado there.
The HRRR less than 3 hours before the twister produced this sounding, which shows a significant tornado hodograph (top right) for the area near Henry around 4:00 in the afternoon. The supercell index is shown near 8 and 0-6km shear is 68 kts. The wind barbs on the left panel show significant shear from the surface to 500mb. The signs were there.
Significant tornado parameters were also highest in that general area.
A SLOW TURN TO COOLER WEATHER...
Behind the cold front, noticeable cooling will slide into the region for the weekend. However, this is not anything to cry about. Highs the next few days will drop from 45-50 Friday to 40-45 Saturday and Sunday. That's still above normal, although much closer to normal. With split flow continuing, the worst of the cold remains well to the north and a dry forecast looks in order into early next week.
Further down the road, I continue my quest to find trouble in the form of cold air and snow. I'm certainly not seeing much in terms of serious cold, but models do indicate a couple clipper like systems after February 15th that have some potential to at least produce some snow. Tracks are uncertain at this distance and moisture is usually limited, so most likely these would be 1-3" type systems (wherever they end up). Here's what the meteograms of the EURO and GFS shows for temperatures over the next 2 weeks. Nothing too hard to swallow here.
With that, I think I will regroup after a day of record warmth and rare severe weather. What a wild 4 weeks of weather it has been! Until next time, roll weather...TS Additionally with my recent health issues, I very much need to reach my fund-raising goals. To keep things as they are, I'm in humble need of your donation to the site more than ever. If you use it and find value in it, please consider a contribution. Thanks to you who have already helped the cause!