Chad’s WLFI Weather Blog

Remembering the Deadly April 17, 1922 Tornadoes……..Outlook to April 28

April 18th, 2014 at 9:59 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

It was a nice day & it is a crisp, chilly night.  Cold air from Lake Michigan has surged southward into northwestern 1/3, but even other areas are cool (dry air & clear skies).

Saturday looks great with mostly sunny skies & highs of 66-72, followed by mostly sunny skies & 75-80 Easter Sunday.

Monday looks like a 70s day with some scattered showers/t’showers in the afternoon-evening with increasing clouds.

I am still not sold on a lot of rainfall for the area.  I think totals of 0.15-0.35″ still looks good & have continued to refrain from higher totals of up to 0.70″.

After slight cool-down, warm, windy weather with 70s & 80s will end next week with t’storms possible Friday.  We will watch for severe potential, but it is currently unclear what the magnitude of any severe threat might be here.  However, potential is decent for Plains severe weather event later in the week.

This will be followed by a brief cool-down with some frost possible around April 27 (30s) after highs around 60.



Two significant tornado tracked across the viewing area on April 17, 1922 & the clean-up was in full swing on April 18.


Surface low deepened rapidly on the afternoon of April 17, 1922 as it moved through our area.  The violent tornadoes seemed to 1) correspond with the surface low track (underneath it or just southeast of it), 2) rapid deepening of the surface low & 3) rapid arrival of the 70s into the area with period of sunshine after morning-early afternoon rain/t’storms.

Eyewitnesses all reported a very rapid strengthening & widening of the Warren County tornado as it moved into the western part of the county.

Photo shows tornado more like an elephant’s trunk in east-central Illinois & damage from Ogden looks like F2 damage.

Damage in central Warren County all supports F4 rating.

These storms were embedded in a larger area of numerous showers & t’showers.

Given the widespread nature of the rainfall & storms, obviously, the low-level jet was extremely strong & rapid intensification of the surface low shows upper jet streak passage.

The 20- to 25-degree temperature drop from April 17 highs to April 18 highs shows a strong, sharp upper trough passage.


Warming & Drying Soils

April 18th, 2014 at 6:21 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

The soils are warming!  These are the weekly average 4″ bare soil temperatures at West Lafayette at 10 a.m. since March 20.

Soils need to run consistently over 50 at 10 a.m. for even, good corn germination.

This week will likely even out to the warmest weekly average, so far (by Sunday) with 50s.

This shows that we are ever close to reaching the corn planting threshold.

However, the last 32 is normally late April & last 36 in May.

Today, 4″ bare soil temp reached 72, tying for the warmest soil temperature of 2014 (last weekend we hit 72).


Lake Breeze Front Moving Into Northwest Areas

April 18th, 2014 at 3:24 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

Very cold waters of Lake Michigan have made a potent lake breeze front, which is sliding into our far northwest.  With north & northeast wind, temperature will drop into the 50s over the northwest this afternoon.

With lake breeze front, it is 42 at Milwaukee, 43 at Waukegan, Illinois & 50 at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.  It is 39 near Whiting, but 55 at Oak Lawn, Illinois & 63 at Romeoville, Illinois.

Tonight, cold, cold air from the lake will drop temperatures to 31-32 in our northwestern quarter.

However, with dry air & calm winds, readings will drop into the middle & upper 30s elsewhere with some patchy fog.


Beautiful Day…………& Weekend Ahead

April 18th, 2014 at 1:43 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

What a beautiful day!  With a cumulus-filled sky, temperature is 66.3 at WLFI is as of 1:45 p.m.

We are looking at a great Easter weekend!  It may be breezy, but highs will be 70-75 Saturday & 75-80 Easter Sunday.

Models are tending to strengthen next system & bring it through Monday.  With strengthening, they are cranking out an average of 0.30-0.70″ of rainfall, too.

I want to wait a little bit to get a better handle on the details of this one, so will hold off on upping rainfall totals/coverage.


Remembering the Violent F4 Tornado of April 17, 1963

April 17th, 2014 at 4:48 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

It was a nice day………….windy, but nice.  Highs ranged from 64-68.  It is still mild tonight!

Weak cold front will pass before 1 p.m. Friday with a few spotty showers.  Skies will be partly cloudy in the afternoon with highs in the 60s.



On April 17, 1963 from 3:30 p.m. to before 5:30 p.m., a tornado tracked over 57 miles from Kankakee County, Illinois to Pulaski County, Indiana (lifted east of Medaryville).  It reportedly struck areas north of Rensselaer around 5 p.m.

There was one death in Kankakee County, Illinois & 20 people were injured alone in Newton, Jasper & Pulaski counties.

Its pronounced visibility & the time of passage in the afternoon-early evening likely prevented more deaths.

A potato processing factory was destroyed near Gifford & many farms showed evidence of near F5 damage, as they were completely swept away.  Medaryville was also heavily damaged.

The damage from this tornado amounted to $2.8 million, which would equal $23 million in 2014 dollars.

Baseball-sized hail frequently accompanied the tornado  in its path through Newton, Jasper & Pulaski counties.


The tornado pic below was taken 7 miles from the state line & 17 miles northwest of Morocco.  Picture by Illinois State Trooper at Momence.

Photo is courtesy of Olivet Nazarene University Archives & the Kankakee County Department of Emergency Management.


This is a very interesting pic & shows you how times have changed.  Here at a track meet at Kankakee High School, students, parents & coaches alike are viewing tornado from only 2 miles away.  Picture courtesy of Kankakee County Historical Society.


Key for long-lived, violent tornado was triple point.  This is where surface occluded, cold & warm front meet.  Shear is often maximized here due to sharp wind shift from west/southwest along occluded front, east/northeast to southeast along warm front & then south to southwest between cold front & warm front.

Accompanying the triple point was a very, very strong surface storm system with pressure 980 mb over North Dakota.

Meanwhile, upper level winds were very strong with intense upper jet streak Kansas to Illinois seen as supercells developed. 

Also, noticed the observations for April 17 at 1 a.m., 12-14 hours prior to outbreak.  The temperature at that hour was 65 in Chicago with a dew point of 60.  Obviously, strong flow around Bermude-type high created a warm, juicy environment, especially along & south of the warm front.


It’s Been A Wild Temperature Ride Lately………..Second Nice Saturday In a Row!

April 17th, 2014 at 3:09 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

After 78 Saturday & only 38 Tuesday, we are at 65.2 as of 3:15 p.m. today.

This, after 27 yesterday morning & 33 this morning.


It looks mild tonight & warm tomorrow after a few spotty showers in the morning up to about 1 p.m.  These will occur along a cold front. 

Some of you will see no rain, but some of you may get a trace to a few hundreths out of this.


However, lake breeze front has potential to make it into northern Newton & Jasper counties in the afternoon, causing the 63-64 to drop into the 50s after 3 p.m.

After patchy frost & 33-37 Friday night, Saturday looks mostly sunny, breezy & warm!  This will be the second consecutive nice Saturday.


Outlook to April 26

April 16th, 2014 at 11:30 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

Other than a few spotty showers Friday before 1 p.m., a few scattered showers/t’showers Sunday night-Monday morning, it looks dry until around April 26.  At that point, severe weather potential may arise.

Temperatures will warm to their highest levels of the year, so far by late next week at 80 to the lower 80s.  Dew points by April 25-26 may reach as high as 65.


Remembering the April 16, 1961 Snow Storm

April 16th, 2014 at 3:34 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

This snow storm would have been significant in January, let alone mid-late April.  The worst of it occurred from the night-time hours of April 15-16 after falling temperatures to 37-41 the day before.  At 1 a.m. on April 15, we were in the mid 50s, showing the incredible change in the weather at the time.  Chicago was 55 at 1 a.m. on April 15!

Even at the height of the storm, temperatures were 31-32, so it was a very heavy, wet, gloppy snow that was just plasted unto trees.  Power outages from the wet snow & very strong winds were widespead.

Howling winds & zero visibility accompanied the driving heavy snow, which closed roads & left thousands stranded.

Winds gusted to 50 mph & drifts were piled 5-10 FEET high.

I would be interested in any of your accounts of this snow storm.

Generally, a 5-9″ snow occurred over much of the area, but totals were less in the southern counties.

April 16, 1870, 3″ of snow fell at Rensselaer & 6″ at Lafayette, followed by a complete change with very, very warm, dry weather the rest of April.  16 of the 31 days of May were in the 90s!

This began a period of significant drought in our region 1870-1872.

April 23, 1910, 2.2″ of snow fell in West Lafayette after one of the warmest Marches on record.  The temperature of 87 in March was not equaled unil 2012, with 87.

April 17, 1926, 6.5″ snow fell at Lafayette from noon to evening.  It reportedly broke many branches & downed powerlines due the rate at which it fell & the heavy, wet, gloppy nature of it.

People commented that it would’ve been 12″ if not for the warm ground, given the rate at which it fell with very large flakes.  Temperatures fell into the mid 20s the night after the snowfall.



Warmer Pattern Ensuing with Eyes On Plains/Midwest Severe Threat April 24-25

April 16th, 2014 at 1:44 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

Current data is indeed suggesting warmer weather than previously forecast for Friday through Sunday.

Looks like just a few scattered showers before 1 p.m. Friday, then a few more showers (& some t’showers) Sunday night-Monday morning.  However, 60s are looking more likely for Friday with near 60 Saturday & 65-70 Sunday, Monday & Tuesday!  Wednesday, highs of 74-77 are looking likely.

It still looks like what could be widespread 80 to the lower 80s Thursday-Saturday.

If current data verifies, then there could be a pretty significant severe weather outbreak from Minnesota to Kansas & Missouri Friday.

It looks like a bit higher probability of getting severe weather here around Saturday the 25th, too.

We will keep an eye on it, but this is a very strong dynamic system with very warm, moist air coming out of the Gulf of Mexico.  Some data suggests a rapidly-deepening surface low from Iowa to Minnesota.  Surface pressure may bottom out at 983 mb over northern Minnesota.

Thoughts On This Spring

April 16th, 2014 at 1:23 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

This has been an interesting spring as a forecaster.  I have had to change the way I forecast.  I have learned to recently forecast like it is mid-late March, not mid-late April.  Lake ice & soil/water temperatures are more like March, not so late in the season.

When you forecast climatological averages way heavily in a forecast & this spring has deviated so much from the normal, that such a mode of forecasting is tending to put numbers out that are higher than what actually occurs.

In March 2012, it was the opposite.  Numbers consistently exceeded forecasts.  In March, it was like forecasting for mid-late April by climatological standards.

May analog data doesn’t seem to gell will actual forecasts, but it gells with forecasts if this were late March.

It has been fascinating to watch such a brutal winter & then cold spring unfold.  The trees & plants are a bit behind normal, but are well over 1 month behind where they were in 2012 at this time!

Today has a south to southeast wind with abundant sunshine, but like we have seen time & time & time again, temperature is struggling to 46 as of 1:22 p.m.!  In fact, looks like our wind is south at 20 mph.  In mid-late April to have wall-to-wall sun & such a strong flow from the south (with struggling temperature in the 40s) that is more like mid-March.  This is a significant deviation from normal climate norms this time of year.