January, 2013


January 4th, 2013 at 10:20 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

Some snow showers are still a good bet Saturday evening-night to part of Sunday.  A dusting/coating is possible in places.  It still appears the potential of 1-2″ will be east & northeast of the viewing area.

Saturday looks breezy with increasing clouds & highs in the middle to upper 30s & lows Saturday night in the upper 20s.  Highs Sunday will run near 33 with lows Sunday night around 18.

No changes needed to the forecast.



Some Snow Showers This Weekend

January 4th, 2013 at 2:56 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

Round of snow showers still looks likely Saturday evening-night to part of Sunday.  A dusting/coating of snow is likely in places.  The 1-2″ amounts look to currently stay northeast & east of here where some moisture from the Gulf Coast will interact with the weak clipper system.

HOWEVER, if the moisture can get up here from the Gulf, then would need to increase snowfall totals to 1-2″ for parts, if not all, of the viewing area.  Some models hint at that.  New GFS paints a few 1-2″ areas in the viewing area, but not ready to go with that yet.  NAM is more like dusting/coating.

Temperatures will be in the middle to upper 30s Saturday & upper 20s Saturday night, followed by highs Sunday near 33.

Warmer weather with 40s & some rain will arrive mid-next week, followed by seasonable lower 30s after that.



Climate Zones & Our Finicky Weather Here

January 3rd, 2013 at 9:41 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

I have received several questions recently regarding the tendency for the heart of winter storms to go north of south of us this winter.  I also had several ask the question, “why does our viewing area miss everything, specifically Lafayette?”

Here are my thoughts on the whole thing………

One, I think it is circumstance that this year we have missed out on the worst of it.  However, once you do lay a deep snow pack down, new storm systems often tend to follow a baroclinic zone or area of surface temperature change.  This usually is on the edge of a deep snow pack, so the next system after the first will tend to ride that gradient (this happened recently in southern Indiana).  So the saying that snow breeds more snow is partially true.

We have been nailed many times by major snow & ice & severe weather, but we will not get that every time of course.  It would seem sometimes we totally miss everything every time, but I know since I have been here there have been many times chunks of our area have taken the worst of severe snows, winter storms & severe weather to flooding & history shows us this, too.

In summer dry soil makes more dry weather, while wet soil makes more wet weather, as soil moisture & temps act as feedback mechanisms for storms.  So, a same pattern of rainfall or dry weather in the same place will often occur.

Also, the jet stream that guides storms may set up in a similar position due to some sort of blocking downstream or push upstream, leading to the same places getting rough weather & other places missing out.

Now, there is a good reason why sometimes we do miss big storms in summer.  The difference in cooling (often between the Rockies & Plains due to changes in humidity & height of the terrain) creates a gradient at 5,000′ of higher wind.  Earth’s spin creates Coriolis Force which curves the winds to the right.  This is the low-level jet.  This wind often picks up moisture & instability & blows up storm clusters at night to our northwest as nocturnal MCSs (Mesoscale Convective Systems or clusters of organized storms with heavy rainfall that are often at peak in the night).  These often account for +70% of the summer rainfall in the Plains.  These MCSs move east & southeast (often on periphery of heatwaves) & approach us normally at what is called diurnal minimum.  This is typically when heating & instability is the least in the given day & as the temp gradient decreases, the low-level jet weakens.  So, they often gust out & weaken with approach, then the MCSs outflow boundaries & MCVs (Mesoscale Vortices) blow up new storms in the heating of the afternoon to our south & east.  The MCV occurs when there is so much rising are motion with an MCS that the surface pressure drops quite a bit & Earth’s Coriolis creates a spinning meso-low.

Two, tornado alleys & sharp shifts in weather & climate are usually climate zone shifts.

In Indiana, we have several climate zone changes:





Snowfall Totals From Last Event & Outlook to January 20……Later This Evening: Why Do We Seemingly Miss A Lot of Weather?

January 3rd, 2013 at 4:07 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

I forgot to post this map of our last snowfall event with all of the totals.  Thank you all for your reports?  They are greatly appreciated!  Promised I would get the map up, here it is.

There are 4 systems to track now-around January 20.

One is a clipper Saturday night-Sunday with scattered snow showers & very minor accumulation in places (dusting).  1-2″ may fall just northeast of here.  We will watch to see if those 1″ to 2″ make it in here.  After this clipper pushing a bit warmer air in for Saturday, it will turn a bit cooler Sunday.  However, both days look to reach & exceed the freezing mark.

The next system will push 40s into the area with showers late Wednesday-Wednesday to Thursday morning.  Behind that, seasonably cold air will move back in (highs near 32).

The third system may bring accumulating snowfall to the area around January 15.  Right now, data suggests 2-6″ with 2″ in our northwestern counties & 6″ in our southeastern counties.  Behind that, cold, cold air will move in with highs only near 20 for a few days as strong Arctic-type high moves in.  Overnight lows may drop to 0, if not below.

Fourth system is a clipper that may bring minor snowfall to the area around January 18 or 19th with slight moderation in temperatures, but it will still be cold!


Some Flurries, Brisk & Cold

January 3rd, 2013 at 2:52 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

We have had a few flurries & light snow showers today with clipper passing to our north.  There are still some spits of flurries here & there with cold, brisk winds up to 22 mph.  The accumulating snows will stay well northeast of our area.

Meteor Shower………..Update to Forecast

January 2nd, 2013 at 10:20 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

Meteor shower (Quadrantids) is tonight.  It peaks 3 a.m.-dawn, but some can be seen 12 a.m.-3 a.m.  Face north & northeast to east to viewing the “shooting stars”.

NASA has also set up a live video feed of the shower, using a camera mounted at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama  at this link.

Only change to the forecast is that I will put few flurries in the forecast for tomorrow & tomorrow night (perhaps early Friday morning), rather than just Thursday night-early half of Friday.  Thinking temperatures will level off tonight at 6-14 & then they may even rise a bit as clouds move in with a southwest breeze.  There are also a few flurries & light snow showers, that are rapidly accelerating east & southeastward towards our area.

These, associated with weak Alberta Clipper, will  pass, but most of the dry, powdery, accumulating snow staying to our northeast.

Otherwise, Thursday looks mostly cloudy & breezy with highs near 26, 14 tomorrow night & 26 Friday with skies becoming mostly sunny.

The rest of the on-going forecast looks good.

Two Bits of Snow, Warm-Up with Showers……….Then Cold with Accumulating Snowfall Near January 15

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:57 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

Two weak clippers will pass.  One Thursday night-part of Friday & another around Sunday.  The first may bring a few flurries/snow showers.  The second may bring a wave of scattered snow showers.

Warmer weather will gradually push in, especially next week.  By Wednesday we may see mid 40s with showers late in the day-Wednesday night, before ending Thursday.  It does not look like a lot of rain, per sey.  Amounts of 0.20-0.40″ look like a good bet.

After this, cold weather will surge back in with some overnights near 11.  Accumulating snow is possible around January 15.

Coldest Morning of the Season So Far…….Lows Tonight

January 2nd, 2013 at 3:03 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

It was the coldest morning of the season, so far.  Chuck, northeast of Frankfort, dropped to -2.  1 at Clinton Prairie.  1.8 here at the station.  Doug in Flora had 4 degrees.

In Indianapolis, it was the coldest in two winters with 5.  We still managed -2 last winter here at the station (January 20), despite it being overwhelmingly mild.  In fact, two days later, the 4.0″ snow was gone & it was 51 degrees!

So, this morning’s 2 was the coldest since January 20 of last year.  This was after last winter’s largest snowfall total of 4″.

Third image is the weather records for last January at WLFI.

The Warmest & Coldest New Years Days on Record

January 1st, 2013 at 10:42 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

January 1, 1876

Ehlfreth Family diary (Cass County):

“The warmest winter was probably that of 1875-76. New Year’s day, 1876, the mercury registered 72 °; the sun shone brightly, the grass was green, and it had more the appearance of a June day than New Years. It rained nearly every other day during January but February was warm, dry and dusty; spring birds, robins, bluebirds, etc., made their appearance and farmers were breaking their corn ground.”

The warmest New Year’s on record welcomed 1876 on the nation’s centennial.  Highs of 69-73° occurred, comparable with record-breaking January warmth in 1890 & 1950.  A severe weather event followed on New Year’s Day 1876 with damaging winds to 60 mph in our area.  F2 tornado occurred in Illinois with steel beams of a steel mill driven into the ground by the tornado at Springfield.  Widespread structural wind damage was reported at Chicago from the storms.  It appears a tornado may have struck Chicago with a path of homes & factories unroofed & church spires toppled through the city.  A four-story building collapsed & at least two brick house were “blown to the ground”.

“There was scarcely a wire standing over a great area of country. From all indication the storm extended over all the continent.”  It was most likely a widespread damaging wind event with embedded tornadoes.

To put it into perspective, Lansing, Michigan hit an amazing 70 on this date & 65 on New Year’s Day.

1875-76 is still regarded as the warmest winter on recorded for the area in what was regarded as “the year without a winter”.

January 1, 1864

Elhfreth Family diary (Cass County):

“The coldest day in Cass county was probably January 1, 1864, when the mercury registered 30 ° below zero (Fahrenheit), with the wind blowing a gale. The previous day was warm and pleasant but a blizzard from the northwest suddenly swept down on the section, with an unprecedented fall of temperature.”

After 40s, tremendous blizzard with over 12″ of snow, white-out conditions, strong winds & temperatures below zero hit the area.  The temperature dropped over 40 degrees in 24 hours.  At Richmond, Indiana, newspapers reported at the temperature dropped from 60 on December 31 to -28 by January 2.

New Years Day was especially rough with “a gale”, temperatures -15 to -10, many reports of hypothermia & than a low of -25 January 2.

Blizzard conditions were widespread across the Midwest, especially in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana & Ohio.  January 1-2, 1864 was regarded as the coldest 24 hours in all of the pioneer weather data in Logansport.

The third image was shown in Harper’s Weekly of the blizzard at Chicago on January 1, 1864. 

Brutal cold continued in the first 11 days of January 1864.  Clippers on the 2nd & 4th brought 1-4” of snowfall & 7 or the first 11 days with lows below 0 at Crawfordsville.  For Lafayette, the first 10 of 11 days were below zero at Lafayette.

Snow depth reached 17” in some places by January 4, with the new snowfall.

Interestingly, a major warm-up with record highs in the 60s occurred late in the month with rainfall & t’storms.


From the Emmetsburg Democrat, Wednesday, January 9, 1907:

Notable Adventure of Pioneer Days is Recalled.
It Swept Pariries of Northern Iowa, January 1, 1864
In the Register and Leader Sunday, January 6, by T.W.Harrison.

I have just read in the Emmetsburg newspapers an account of the death of Joseph T. Mulroney, one of the early settlers in Palo Alto county. In his death has passed from earth the last of a trio of nature’s heroes and prominent figures in a notable incident of the early prairie days.

January 1, 1864, was perhaps the coldest day ever experienced in Iowa and adjoining states. In many places of this latitude, men froze stiff and dead while sitting bolt upright in their wagons, with the reins of their restless horses in their hands. In northern Iowa the snow was deep and a fierce wind blew a terrific gale from the northwest. It was so soon after the Indian massacres of 1862 in southern Minnesota, that soldiers were stationed at Estherville and other towns to protect the settlers and to prevent the Indians from commiting other depredations. To furnish these soldiers with supplies was a difficult and hazardous task. No railroads approached that locality within two hundred miles. Food, clothing and ammunition had to be hauled on sleighs over a trackless prairie where the gullies were drifted full of snow from two to ten feet deep and pounded hard with the continuous winds.

Joe and Kiren Mulroney were  then mere boys living on a farm at old Soda Bar in the timber on the Des Moines River and Henry Archer another young man, was living in Humboldt county. That winter these three vigorous fellows volunteered for the government service of  hauling supplies to these far away posts of boys in blue. I knew all three of them intimately for years and heard from each the details of their experiences.

Mercury Frozen.

On that historic day of bitterest cold they were facing a terrific northwest blizzard with their sleigh loads of shelled corn which they were taking from central Iowa to those destitute troops.

The mercury was frozen solid and the sp??? thermometers was down to half a hundred below, and the howling, cracking, biting, whirling snow was so dense in the air that they could not see the length of a sleigh and team. A winter blizzard on northern trackless prairies is far more terrible than a hurricane at sea. At sea there is the shelter and warmth of the boat. Just shut your eyes and pray and let her go, and if kept in the wind’s courses, she will be likely to outride the storm. But in…….(line missing)….below zero and “the hissing serpents of the sea” with all their fury and weird and racking terrors, will be there, augmented a thousand fold by the lack of shelter and the indescribable frenzy of the pinching, relentless cold. Since the countyr has been improved with  cultivated fields and fences and hedges and groves such blizzards have not been known.

On this perilous trip Joe was always in the lead with the others close behind, each leading his horses with one hand and holding onto the hind end of the preceding sleigh with the other so that they could not become separated and lost for the horses were always determined to turn and go with the storm instead of against it. Each carried a shovel in his sleigh and sometimes for hours they would work like giants shoveling out a roadway through some drifted gully which would fill almost as fast as they could dig it out, but then the snow was soft so that they could pull through it. Their progress was necessarily slow, for their road was as unmarked as the storm tossed, trackless sea, and their wits had to be their guide as to direction and course.

The storm was so severe that Archer was in favor of pulling into some settlement on the Des Moines river and waiting until the blizzard should abate. But Joe was persistent, relentless and fearless. He said, “Those soldiers are starving and the government is depending upon us to get these supplies to them and I’ll never stop as long as we can make a mile a day.”

That day they were trying to cross Palo Alto county and intended to hit “Mickey” Jackman’s place in the timber on the east side of Medium lake for the night. But night overtook them too soon and at dark they were still out on the prairie and did not dare to proceed further for fear their horses would give out and die in their tracks. So they decided to stop for the night. They parked their sleighs in a semi-circle against the storm and tied their horses to the sleighs within that circle. Then they took their shovels and cut blocks of frozen snow and piled them up as a barricade six or eight feet high on the windward side of the sleighs to shelter themselves and their horses from the storm. They would remain inside this shelter with their horses as long as they could endure the cold, then they would go out and shovel snow as hard as they could against this wall until they got warm, and this they repeated from time to time all through that long and dreary night. Kiren was the youngest and they had a great difficulty in keeping him awake, but they did, for Joe and Archer knew that sleep meant death. The cold was so intense that hungry as they were the horses would not eat a kernel of that shelled corn.

The long and fearful night finally passed and daylight came, but with no relaxation of the sotrm or cold. They knew that they could not live there through another night. They could not see the sun and had no means of telling the direction or distance to Jackman’s place. They waited, hoping that the sun might send a guiding ray of light through the dense clouds of snow.

They Kept on in Face of Storm.

About noon they thought they could discren a place that appeared to be a little lighter than the rest and concluded it might be in the south and with that faint guide they determined to start and take what they thought to be a westerly course each riding a horse and leading another. Kiren was so chilled and frozen that they had to help him on to the house and it was with great difficulty that he could retain his hold there. But with Joe in the lead and Kiren in the middle and Archer in the rear they plunged out through the blinding blistering snow and in an hour they reached Jackman’s timber. “Mickey” was out looking after the stock and was as greatly surprised to see them as if they had dropped down from heaven. In amazement he asked, “Where in the world did you boys come from?” They replied, “Out on the prairie. We have been out on the prairie all night.” Mickey could not believe it and said, “My God, men, no none could live out on the prairie through last night.” They assured him that they had and told him to take the horses while they went into the house to get thawed out.

Legs and Feet Were Frozen

Mrs. Jackman was melting snow for soft water with which to wash and had a washtub full of snow and water. The one room log house was small and she told the men to take the tub outdoors to make more room. Archer said, “No, we have need of that water.” He knew that Kiren’s feet were frozen. They cut off his shoes and stockings and the legs of his trousers and found that not only his feet but his legs to the knees were frozen. They put his feet in that tub of ice water and bathed his limbs with it until the frost was drawn out and …(line missing)…probability saved his life for no surgeon could have been reached nearer than Fort Dodge, seventy miles away. As it was, the frost blisters caused the skin to slough from his feet and limbs like a pair of hip boots and it was three months before he could again wear shoes.

In three or four days the storm subsided but the bitter cold continued, and Joe and Archer, with the help of some other men and teams, took the three loads of corn to the famishing troops at Estherville.

After the close of the civil war Joe and Kiren became prosperous and wealthy farmers, always highly respected and greatly beloved by all who knew them. Five or six years ago Kiren was accidentally killed by a kick from a spirited horse he was leading to water. Archer moved to some point in Nebraska where he prospered and became a wealthy banker and influential citizen and he died there about two years ago. And now Joe, the strongest, most resolute and most fearless of them all has died at a time when he ought to have been in the full vigor of his mature manhood. And who can say that the terrible strain of that awful experience in that prairie blizzard forty-three years ago, while in the conscientious performance of unselfish duty, did not shorten the lives of Archer and Joe from ten to twenty years? And when the final roll of nature’s heroes shall be called, their names will be there, and not far down on the list, because they risked their lives in the performance of duty and for the love of their fellow men.

T.W. Harrison
Topeka, Kas.

Coldest Night of the Season So Far

January 1st, 2013 at 10:11 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

We will drop  to 5-8 degrees tonight, HOWEVER, if the winds can go totally calm, we may get much colder (near 0).  Regardless there will be at least some freezing fog & a pretty heavy frost.

As of 10:15 p.m., temperatures are running as low as 10.1 degrees.  It is 14.3 degrees at WLFI.  Randy Rogers, on the east end of Frankfort, emailed in with 13.