A big blob of rain, with a few thunderstorms embedded within a big swirling low inched towards Decatur late last week. Since late Wednesday night, that rain has made it as far as the Great Lakes. So it rained in Decatur during our forecast period of Thursday and Friday, but the radar was less and less intense as time went on, and temperatures dropped off to become seasonable, and eventually, below normal. If there was a silver lining to all the clouds, it was that forecasts for the region were pretty good. Forecast.io gets top marks. Actuals: Thursday – High .09 inches of rain, High 79, Low 60 Friday – .13 inches of rain, High 63, Low 51
The Masters start tomorrow in Augusta, and if you are a local, I bet it’s not your favorite time of year. So why not get out of town, say, by driving as far as you can in one long day. It will take almost 12 hours to get from Augusta to Decatur, covering about 744 miles at a pace of about 64.5mph. It’s definitely going to be an adventure!
Low pressure in the mid-Mississippi Valley is rapidly occluding, which means it is slowing down and weakening. As a result, it’s not going to clear the route by the time we get moving, but it’s also not going to provide a lot of heavy weather as we drive on Thursday. There will be some rain and isolated thunder with the tail of the front in the high terrain northwest of Atlanta to about Murfreesboro, Tennessee. At that point, we will get into a dry slot, which will be cloudy and glum, but OK for driving. The dry slot will last for the rest of the day, though the further north, and closer to Decatur we get in while driving in southern Illinois, some light rain becomes more and more likely. So don’t go any further north than Decatur, I guess, is what I’m saying.
Central Illinois is calling our name this evening.
At 1054PM, CT, Decatur was reporting clear skies with a temperature of 66 degrees. An active area of low pressure west of the Mississippi was drawing warm moist air north into Illinois, lending to the stuffy overnight temperatures, but a great deal of rain, with embedded thunderstorms was on it’s way. Fortunately, the warmer weather should continue through most of the day tomorrow. The sharp curl to the upper jet will induce occlusion of the system through tomorrow morning, slowing the system down and taking the teeth out of the precipitation as it moves through Decatur. Severe weather, and even strong thunderstorms are unlikely. Wet weather will arrive in the evening in Decatur on Wednesday, with rain continuing, heavy at times through Thursday morning. Cooler, damp air will linger later in the day on Thursday as low pressure parks itself in central Illinois. With a murky upper level pattern, the lingering moisture over Decatur will help set the stage for shower and thunderstorm activity later this week. Tomorrow – Late rain, some thunderstorms close to midnight, High 77, Low 60 Thursday – Heavy rain, then overcast with spots of drizzle, High 61, Low 52
TWC: Tomorrow – Cloudy in the morning with scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 77, Low 60 Thursday – Cloudy early with showers for the afternoon hours. High 60, Low 53
AW: Tomorrow – Some sun, then increasing clouds and windy; a thunderstorm in spots in the afternoon High 77, Low 61 Thursday – Mainly cloudy, breezy and cooler with a couple of showers High 61, Low 52
NWS: Tomorrow – A 20 percent chance of showers after 2pm. Partly sunny, High 75, Low 60 Thursday – A 40 percent chance of showers after 1pm. Partly sunny High 60, Low 52
WB: Tomorrow – Mostly Sunny, 20% chance of rain showers in the afternoon, High 75, Low 61 Thursday – Cooler. Partly sunny with a 50% chance of rain showers, High 61, Low 55
WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with scattered showers, High 75, Low 60 Thursday – Partly cloudy with scattered showers. High 59, Low 52
FIO: Tomorrow – Rain overnight and in the evening. Hugh 77, Low 5 “Thursday – Rain until morning, starting again in the evening. High 65, Low 51.
Illinois looks nice on satellite, but those poufs of cumulonimbus west of Mississippi bear watching.
Forecasts for Decatur were generally not too bad, save for one nasty verifying period: Wednesday morning. Even if they didn’t explicitly say they were expecting fog in their forecast (erm, I guess that was only me) it was still in the back of our minds. Decatur did see visibilities drop to a quarter of a mile in the morning, and despite that, temperatures continued to drop, all the way to 26. The 3 coolest morning lows all collected the three top forecasts, with The Weather Channel and Forecast.io earning victory. The temperature tracking surrounding the occluded front on Thursday surprisingly didn’t play into the victory totals at all. Actuals: Wednesday – High 51, low 26 Thursday – .24 inches of rain, High 58, low 40
A trip through the Rockies and Plains as a vigorous system moves through the region… I see no reason to worry! Our three day trip will feature an extended third day, and 1,861 total miles covered. We’ll navigate the terrain of the Rockies in our shorter two days, which will conclude after 551miles of travel, all at an average pace of about 69mph. Nice.
DAY ONE (Thursday)
There is a string of features extending from the northern Praries of Canada to the High Plains to the southwestern US. Epic rains are falling around Phoenix and in the southern Rockies, with snow falling at the highest peaks. By the time we get going tomorrow, the system will have weakened, with precipitation becoming limited to the upper elevations along our route. We may not see any precipitation on the roads, but there will be some nearby, in the Ruby Range in northeast Nevada, and by Park City, Utah. We’ll stop in Coalville, not too far beyond Park City.
DAY TWO (Friday) As high pressure filters back into the High Plains, moisture will be scoured out of the low lying terrain. We might see some mid level or high clouds as we trek through Wyoming, north of the snow falling in the peaks of Colorado. Wyoming has a lot of beautiful parts, but none of them are along I-80, so hustle through and get to the western part of Nebraska, where we will stop in Brule for the night.
DAY THREE (Saturday) The very same system that we saw on Thursday will be sweeping through the Lower Mississippi Valley, shuttling to the northeast. An inverted trough at the north end of the low will be pointed into Illinois, into some chilly air. Nebraska and Iowa should be sunny and dry, but the threat and intensity of snow will increase the closer we get to Decatur.
I feel like the heart of Illinois is a good place to really see what synoptic scale weather patterns can do
AT 854PM, CT, Decatur was reporting a temperature of 36 degrees. Above freezing temperatures after fresh rain and snow have led to low clouds and fog beginning to develop in the region thanks to clear skies and calm winds. After what should be a foggy morning tomorrow, emerging low pressure in the High Plains will drive warm air northward throughout the day tomorrow. Decatur is far enough south that the emerging low will bring a threat for rain or even an isolated rumble of thunder as the feature slides north towards the Upper Midwest and sends an active cold front into Illinois by sunrise. The system is going to be fast moving and will be through by the early afternoon, leaving a chilly but clear evening by Thursday. Tomorrow – Partly cloudy, High 50, Low 32 Thursday – Rain early, at times heavy, High 54, Low 41
TWC: Tomorrow – Areas of patchy fog early. Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 51, Low 29 Thursday – Showers in the morning then continued cloudy and windy in the afternoon. High 59, Low 44
AW: Tomorrow – Sunny to partly cloudy and milder High 52, Low 32 Thursday – Breezy and mild in the morning; otherwise, cloudy with showers, mainly early in the day High 60, Low 45
NWS: Tomorrow – Widespread fog, mainly before 8am. Otherwise, partly sunny, High 53, Low 33 Thursday – Rain, mainly before noon High 61, Low 43
WB: Tomorrow – Partly sunny, Widespread fog in the morning, High 49, Low 31 Thursday – Rain in the morning, then a chance of rain in the afternoon, High 57, Low 41
WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy, High 53, Low 33 Thursday – Partly cloudy with light rain, High 61, Low 46
FIO: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High 49, Low 28 Thursday – Light rain and windy in the morning. High 61, Low 41
It’s going to be a pretty virulent system that moves through the country this week, but if there is any good news, it’s that it is moving through now, rather than later in the season, when more snow would fall, or in the spring, when severe storms are likely. Here, we can just see fog developing.