Canton, Ohio to Dubuque, Iowa

One day. One long day, and four states, those are the stats on this Midwestern trek. It will take a little over 9 hours, albeit those will be traffic slogged in Chicago, to cover 608 mles. How bad will traffic be? Google suggests an alternate route through Indianapolis that is less than an hour longer, but covers 72 more miles. The pace of our route is 66.4mph, which doesn’t seem daunting, but it does seem optimistic.

Canton, Ohio, via

Low pressure in the Great Lakes is bringing some northerly flow to the Northern Plains and cycling in batches of rain and isolated thunderstorms to most of our route. The low is shifting north and a little east, however, and by tomorrow, the Ohio and Indiana portions of our journey will be in the clear. A second volley of wet weather will cycle into the region late in the day tomorrow, and while most of the activity will be heavy clouds in northern Illinois, we should expect some rain in spits and starts between Chicago and the Quad Cities, with thinner clouds bout those same spots of rain between Davenport and Dubuque. Not much, but it will be there, probably when you are bringing luggage to your hotel.

By Dirk – originally posted to Flickr as Dubuque Iowa, CC BY 2.0,

Dubuque, Iowa

Yes! We are forecasting for the same city in Iowa twice in a week. Anthony and I are operating on slightly different calendars, and there was overlap this week. Which of us does Dubuque best?

At 853AM, CT, Dubuque was reporting clear skies and a temperature of 63 degrees. Winds from the east were picking up, feeding into a line of very strong thunderstorms that were barreling down I-80, passing through Marshalltown on their way to Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. The heaviest activity will remain south of Dubuque, but Dubuque won’t be completely unscathed when all is said and done.
The line of storms is a true derecho, following a stationary front that runs south of Dubuque towards Missouri and into Kentucky and Tennessee. The northwestern part of the boundary is poised to lift further north as an area of low pressure moves through Iowa, reinvigorating the chance for showers and storms later this evening. The low that lifts north is just a mild perturbation in a broader, progressively weakening system in the northern Plains. The weakening of this parent low means that clearing will be slow to come to Deubuque, and this weekend will be plagued by chances of rain throughout the weekend as the system occludes over eastern Iowa. There may be a stray thunderstorm embedded within showers.
Tomorrow- Overcast with rain and some thunderstorms, High 74, Low 56
Sunday – Rain, heavier and with embedded storms late, High 77, Low 64

TWC: Tomorrow – Cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day High 78, Low 57
Sunday – Scattered showers and thunderstorms. High 80, Low 67

AW: Tomorrow – Cloudy, humid; a shower or thunderstorm in spots in the afternoon High 76, low 58
Sunday – Remaining cloudy, thunderstorms, strong late; humid High 80, Low 68

NWS: Tomorrow – Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly before 7am. Mostly cloudy, High 78, Low 60
Sunday – Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, High 81, Low 68

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy. Showers and thunderstorms likely in the morning, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. High 74, Low 58
Sunday – Showers and thunderstorms likey, High 77, Low 68

WN: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy with scattered storms, High 78, Low 60
Sunday – Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms likely, High 81, low 68

FIO: Tomorrow – Rain overnight and in the morning. High 72, Low 61
Sunday – Possible light rain throughout the day. High 80, Low 69

I’m a little cooler than most, especially on Sunday, but my logic is this: Rainy, cloudy days rarely happen when it’s 80 out. Here is the radar, with a line of storms screaming through southern Iowa.

Severe weather lingering to the south

Before we begin, let’s take a moment to appreciate the duck like appearance of today’s severe weather outlook.

Quack quack quack. Now, the breast meat of this duck-look is featuring an enhanced risk of severe weather. Looking at the bulk of the severe weather in the forecast, it is apparent that here is a cold front running roughly from the Great Lakes to the Red River Valley, with a second embedded low over north Texas to inflame any severe storms in the region.

There is something mildly unusual about this particular forecast, and it has been part of an ongoing trend to the spring and early meteorological summer. It’s been so cold in the central US that the bullseye for severe weather hasn’t really shifted as far north as it usually does this time of year.

Here is the SPC climatology for severe weather for 6/19s through history.

Certainly, there has been severe weather further north this season, such as the tornadoes in Dayton and Jefferson City, and Kansas and Nebraska have had some severe storms as well, but the particularly cool start to summer in the Upper Midwest has kept the Great Lakes fairly quiet so far this season, it has also lead to a prolonged storm season through Texas and Louisiana.

With the long term outlook for the next couple of weeks turning warmer in the center of the country, the severe threat looks to be moving further north. Additionally, a standing trough coming to the west looks to set up a clash of air masses in the Dakotas late in the month to the beginning of July. It’s certainly too far out to make any specific predictions, but it certainly looks like we are on our way to course correction through the middle of summer.

Dubuque, Iowa

As we close in on the official start of Summer later this week, let’s take a look at how the Upper Midwest will fare over the next couple of days.

At 953pm CDT, the temperature at Dubuque, IA was 68 degrees under mostly cloudy skies. A weak boundary continues to linger from Michigan through IA back into the Central Plains. It’s the focus of scattered shower and isolated thunderstorm activity and looks to remain so for tomorrow. There’s a chance of scattered shower activity during the daytime hours as it shifts away from the Dubuque area, while thunderstorm activity should remain off to the south. Thursday should be on the dry side as the aforementioned boundary shifts away and in advance of another low pressure system shifting into the Dakotas. There might be some shower activity on Friday, but not Thursday!

Wednesday: Scattered showers possible. High 71, Low 61.
Thursday: Mostly cloudy and warmer. High 75, Low 56.

TWC: Wednesday: Morning showers. High 75, Low 63.
Thursday: Partly cloudy. High 77, Low 56.

AW: Wednesday: Cloudy, a touch of rain. High 72, Low 62.
Thursday: Mostly cloudy; comfortable. High 75, Low 56.

NWS: Wednesday: Chance of showers. High 74, Low 62.
Thursday: Mostly sunny. High 76, Low 57.

WB: Wednesday: Chance of storms. High 71, Low 63.
Thursday: Mostly sunny. High 74, Low 57.

WN: Wednesday: Mostly cloudy with scattered showers. High 74, Low 62.
Thursday: Partly cloudy. High 76, Low 57.

FIO: Wednesday: Light rain until afternoon. High 73, Low 64.
Thursday: Partly cloudy throughout the day. High 77, Low 59.

There’s some light rain shower activity off to the west. We’ll see another day of this smattering of activity before things clear out.

Late night, no worries

I think it’s ok that Victoria-Weather and a couple of other outlets left the mention of rain out of the forecast in Omaha for yesterday. There were only a couple of drops, and they all came in the 10 o’clock hour, after everyone should have been in bed anyway. I guess it doesn’t really work like that though, so we have to give credit to The Weather Channel and the resurgent Weatherbug, who tied atop the forecast, thanks in part to their dash of Monday precip.
Actuals: Sunday – High 86, Low 64
Monday – Rain reported, not measured, High 82, Low 66

Grade: B-C

Triple Digits

last week, we looked at a forecast in Yuba City, north of Sacramento. Whenever I think of interior northern California, I think of mountains, trees and milder weather than the inferno to the south. It gets plenty hot in the northern Valley too, though. Yuba City hit 102 on Wednesday, but faced a significant cool down on Thursday. 93! In fact, that 93 was cooler than any outlet had in the forecast. what a relief, right? Weatherbug beat the heat and had a very good score to earn the win.
Actuals: Wednesday – High 102, Low 70
Thursday – High 93, Low 64

Grade: A-B

The ongoing messaging struggle

I recently wrote about the challenge of presenting weather dangers in a clearer manner, and how important it was to clarify the risk represented by much of our sometimes vague terminology.

Another problem is that most consumers receive their weather from the media, and the media does indeed to need to drive viewership. I am of the opinion that people who are watching the news are already in it for the weather forecast, as it will help guide their decisions for the day, but some corporate overseers see it differently.

Meteorologist Joe Crain was recently terminated for espousing the opinion found in the above video. His station’s corporate management insisted upon a certain number of “Code Red” weather days with no real threshold for what that meant. Obviously, that runs counter to the efforts of increasing weather awareness for the every day person.

Overwarning, or in this case overpromoting severe weather is akin to crying wolf. If a Code Red day can mean rain for three or four days, how can the viewer know that Code Red means severe thunderstorms or tornadoes on another day?

But alas, the bottom line is financial, especially when a national corporation owns a local TV station, rather than public safety. While Crain was in the right by most clear thinking opinions, he definitely ran afoul of his employers’ business plan. It’s a blight for all meteorologists.

Omaha, Nebraska

We are going to sneak on over to the home of the college World Series. This is the rare example of a previously assigned forecast working out with a big event in that town. The blog has only been around for a decade, sheesh.

At 952PM, CT, Omaha was reporting a temperature of 7 degrees with fair skies. Clouds associated with strong showers and thunderstorms have pulled into east Iowa, and Nebraska was nearly entirely devoid of clouds. A cold front swinging out of Canada intersected with weak low pressure in Iowa, and the localized circulation was doing an effective job of drawing clear, dry air into the Missouri Valley.
Father’s Day looks quite pleasant for Omaha as a result. A surface trough scooting through the Dakotas may touch off some showers in the north central part of the state, however the still lingering Canadian front will prevent moisture from really accessing the trough. Clouds will increase in the evening, but Monday doesn’t look terrible either.
Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, High 83, Low 63
Monday – Increasing clouds, High 80, Low 62

TWC: Tomorrow – A few clouds from time to time High 88, Low 65
Monday – Some sun in the morning with increasing clouds during the afternoon. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 83, Low 64

AW: Tomorrow – Times of clouds and sun; nice High 85, Low 65
Monday – Times of clouds and sun; nice High 80, Low 64

NWS: Tomorrow – Sunny, high 83, Low 63
Monday – A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Partly sunny, high 80, Low 61

WB: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 84, Low 65
Monday – Partly sunny with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, High 80, Low 65

WN: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, High 84, Low 63
Monday – Parly cloudy with isolated storms, High 81, Low 61

FIO: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy throughout the day. High 83, Low 65
Monday – Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High 79, Low 59

Here is the very pretty satellite for Omaha, which is missing any clouds over eastern Nebraska.