Andrew Thut

Tornado count up to 14

April 22nd, 2011 at 6:51 am by under News, Weather

Storm surveys on the April 10th severe weather outbreak continued this week and two additional tornadoes have been confirmed. One of those was in Calumet County. It was located just south of Stockbridge (indicated by a 9 on the map below). The tornado was EF1 in strength with estimated wind speeds of 85-90 mph. It struck around 9 p.m. and was only on the ground for a couple of minutes. It is the same tornado that spawned a waterspout (tornado over water) over Lake Winnebago just minutes earlier. The tornado caused minor damage to four homes and ripped part of a roof off a metal outbuilding.

The other newly confirmed tornado (indicated by a 10 on the map) struck to the northwest of Antigo in Langlade County. It hit shortly before 7 p.m. and was an EF1 with estimated wind speeds of 110 mph. This tornado was confirmed based on a fly over by the DNR and Langlade County Forestry. Most of the damage occurred to the south of Parrish in a heavily wooded area.

This tornado outbreak is the largest during April in Wisconsin’s history. 14 tornadoes have been validated. 7 of those were in the FOX 11 viewing area. One of the most notable tornadoes in Northeast Wisconsin was an EF2 in Kaukauna. You can see video of that tornado here. The strongest tornado statewide was an EF3 near Merrill. To see video of that tornado check out this link.

Meteorologist Andrew Thut

More snow and a tornado update

April 21st, 2011 at 4:42 pm by under News, Weather

To say the weather pattern has been active in April is almost an understatement. So far this month we have picked up nearly 4” of precipitation which is more than an inch above average. We will tack on plenty more to that before the month ends. A storm could produce another half inch between Friday and Friday night, then another system will bring more rain on Tuesday. But even with wet weather in the forecast, you don’t have to dig deep to find the silver lining… At least we are talking about rain instead of snow.

Winter Storm Gabe dropped 10.1” of snow on Tuesday and Wednesday making it the biggest late April storm on record.

Estimated snowfall totals April 19-20

Most of the snow has quickly melted away, and you might find yourself wondering “is this the last of the snow?”

Aside from a few flurries late tonight, no snow is in the forecast during the next week. With each passing day, the chance for snow will become even slimmer. During May there have only been a handful of 1 inch plus snowfall events. In fact since the late 1800s only about 8% of all Mays have totaled at least an inch of snow.

Here is the bottom line, we may see snow again this season, but if we do it won’t amount to much. What will be more likely is severe weather.  That’s something the U.S. has seen a lot of during April.

Nationwide there have been more than 500 reports of tornadoes this month. More than half of those came during a strong severe weather outbreak last week. Check out video from one of those tornadoes here.

Many of the 500 reports are duplicates and unconfirmed sources now say there have been 294 actual tornadoes. That would be enough to break the old April record of 267 set in 1974. The average amount of April tornadoes is only 163.

Meteorologist Andrew Thut

Magnitude 7.1 aftershock rattles Japan

April 7th, 2011 at 5:35 pm by under News, Weather

Nearly a month has passed since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake rocked Japan. Late Thursday night, parts of the country were reminded how a major earthquake feels. A 7.1 earthquake was recorded near the northeast coast shortly before midnight. The quake was considered strong but was still about 80 times smaller than the record 9.0. It hit about 40 miles east of Sendai and around 200 miles northeast of Tokyo.

The quake knocked out power across most of the northern part of the county. A tsunami warning was issued but was canceled shortly after. There have been no immediate reports of deaths or major damage. The lack of damage is thanks to Japans infrastructure. Magnitude 7.1 earthquakes typically causes serious damage. One example is the 7.0 earthquake which devastated Haiti in January of 2010.

The 7.1 earthquake is the strongest aftershock since shortly after the 9.0 quake. The total amount of aftershocks is around 920. 419 of those had a magnitude greater than 5.0. Fortunately most of these earthquakes have been off-shore and haven’t been strong enough to produce tsunamis. Nearly 50 of the aftershocks were magnitude 6.0-6.9. Earthquakes of this intensity can cause significant damage, especially in poorly constructed areas.

The good news is the amount of aftershocks have been on the decline. On March 12, the day after the major quake, there were 148. That number quickly declined to 47 aftershocks on May 15th and there were only 8 earthquakes on April 7.

Meteorologist Andrew Thut

Due for a weekend warm-up

April 6th, 2011 at 3:46 pm by under News, Weather

It has been a slow start to spring. After a brief tease of mild weather in mid March, Winter Storm Francesca (March 22-23) helped set our temperatures back considerably. Since then, the high has averaged out to about 37°. That is nearly 10° shy of our normal through the period which runs around 46.0°.

Needless to say, we are due for a warm up. The average first 60° day of the year is on March 29th. We haven’t seen a day that warm since November 10th, a span of around 5 months.  Taking it one step further, the first 70° day typically occurs on April 11th.

The good news is temperatures like that won’t be far-fetched this weekend. Highs will flirt with the 60s on Saturday and be a few degrees shy of 70° on Sunday. It is all thanks to strong southerly winds ahead of a potent storm system that will pass through on Sunday.

The warm up and the storm are both right in line with what was predicted at the start of the month. The entry below is from a previous blog titled April forecast.

“April 9th-11th

The average high for this period is 51°-52°. I am expecting temperatures to be near to above this mark on the 9th and 10th. The warmer air will be courtesy of southerly winds ahead of a stronger storm arriving around the 11th. This storm lines up with other notable storms in the cycle. One of those was Winter Storm Dana on February 20-21st which dropped 13.9” of snow on the area.”

The cycle mentioned above refers to a recurring weather pattern which set up last fall. Each cycle typically lasts 45-50 days and has been extremely useful for long-range forecasting. Since temperatures this weekend will be significantly warmer than previous times through the cycle, Sunday’s storm will come in the form of thunderstorms rather than snow.

Meteorologist Andrew Thut

Sunday forecast

April 2nd, 2011 at 10:16 pm by under News, Weather

A strong storm moves in on Sunday bringing gusty winds, a rain/snow mix and possibly a few rumbles of thunder. The main concern will consist of the rain/snow mix which is most likely prior to noon. Areas from Appleton northward have the best opportunity for mixing. Places like Oshkosh and Fond du Lac should be warm enough to get rain.

Precipitation could become heavy at times during the morning. Some light snow accumulation is possible for far northern portions of the state, but most locations will see any brief snowfall melt on contact with the ground. Warmer air arrives during the afternoon and the mix will switch to light rain. The afternoon will offer the best chance for a break from the wet weather. As the low pressure center passes through in the evening, another wave of showers will move through. Most areas will see around a half inch of precipitation. The rainfall should melt away most of our snow pack.

Winds will also be strong out of the southeast at 10-20 mph. Gusts could even reach 35 mph. On Monday the windy conditions will continue. Skies will be cloudy with a few patches of light drizzle and flurries.

Meteorologist Andrew Thut

April Forecast

April 1st, 2011 at 10:02 pm by under News, Weather

April is a transitional month in Northeast Wisconsin. Winters finally loosens its grip and spring weather kicks in. Yesterday’s blog covered average temperatures and precipitation in April, but what can we really expect? Hopefully the forecast below can provide you with some answers.

The techniques for making the forecast have had success. My March forecast was nearly right on. To predict long-range weather, I use a combination of extended computer models and teleconnections. But more than anything, I also rely on the weather pattern which set up last fall.

That pattern, which is better described as a cycle, has lasted 45-50 days and is separated by a major storm. The list below highlights the major storms and their time apart.

  • October 26-27: Major wind storm with gusts reaching 52 mph
  • Blizzard Aiden, 45 days later, 11.0” of snow
  • Winter Storm Connor, 49 days later, more than 20” of snow in Racine
  • Winter Storm Francesca, 47 days later, 17.8” of snow
  • If the cycle continues, the next major storm is between May 7th-12th

The best way to analyze the pattern is by viewing long-wave troughs and ridges in the upper atmosphere. Notice how all of the major storms took on similar characteristics at 500 mb in the graph below. For a more detailed explanation of the major storms in each cycle check out this video.

Let’s get to the forecast….

April 1-8th

I won’t spend a lot of time here as it falls in our seven day forecast. The period will be highlighted by a storm on April 3-4. We will see a mix of rain and snow on the morning of the 3rd. The mix will primarily be for northern areas, with rain dominating to the south. The storm begins to exit on the 4th but will still provide the opportunity for light rain and possibly flurries.

April 9th-11th

The average high for this period is 51°-52°. I am expecting temperatures to be near to above this mark on the 9th and 10th. The warmer air will be courtesy of southerly winds ahead of a stronger storm arriving around the 11th. This storm lines up with other notable storms in the cycle. One of those was Winter Storm Dana on February 20-21st which dropped 13.9” of snow on the area. This doesn’t mean we will be hit hard by snow. It is more likely we get rain and a few thundershowers with strong winds.

April 12th-17th

This has been a relatively quiet period in the cycle. During the same part of the cycle in November, our high temperatures ran 1° above average. However, during the same stage of the cycle in January and February, our highs were below average.

Here’s where it gets difficult. Since November conditions are more like April, I favor the November stats. However, there are other factors to consider. La Nina conditions, which were consistent with cold temperatures this winter, will still be present. Another influence will be the snow pack. Most of our snow should be melted by this point, but a stubborn snow pack to the north could still keep our temperatures cool. With this in mind I am expecting near to below average temperatures.

April 18th-21st

This period could be our first taste of severe weather on the season. I am expecting a potent storm to move through, with the best severe dynamics to our south. On November 22, which lines up with this part of the cycle, tornadoes hit southeastern Wisconsin. Tornadoes that late in November is extremely rare! These dates also line up with the February 28th severe weather outbreak which produced wind damage from the Southeast to Pennsylvania. This is a period that definitely deserves keeping an eye on…. It will also likely be preceded by a day or two of warmer temperatures.

April 24th-25th

Another storm will likely move through around this time. Severe weather can’t be ruled out, but I don’t think this storm will have the severe potential of the April 18th -21st storm.

April 29th-30th

Here’s another time period that bears watching. This time in previous parts of the cycle led to major severe outbreaks. One was November 29th with the other on March 8th. Take a look at the storm reports below.

You might be thinking if all of the reports are to the south, won’t the storm miss us completely? There are two sides to the argument. The March storm did just miss us to the south. However, we did see rain during the November system. Since it was so late in the season, the severe set up was more favorable to the south. With warmer weather kicking in during late April, the area with great severe weather dynamics will move north.

Not completely satisfied with the forecast? Here are a couple other key points for April.

  • Aside from warm days around April 9th and 10th, the first half of April will be cool compared to average
  • An active weather pattern will produce more above average days for the second half of April

I hope you enjoyed this forecast. If you have any questions, please comment below. Now it’s time to wait and see what happens!

Meteorologist Andrew Thut

Breaking April down by averages

March 31st, 2011 at 6:03 pm by under News, Weather

Spring fever is settling in for Northeast Wisconsin! Major League baseball is underway and a streak of sunshine and days above freezing is eating away at the snow pack. Despite this our temperatures have still been running below average. The average high for the first of April is 47°. We still typically see the lower 50s by mid April with our average high soaring to the lower 60s by the end of the month. The reason for the climb in our temperatures late in the month has to do with a lack of snow on the ground and a higher sun angle. Meanwhile, our low temperatures range from the upper 20s to the lower 30s.

The graph above represents the daily averages based on data during the last 30 years. This doesn’t mean that we don’t see highs reach the 70s in April. In fact, based on the last five Aprils, we typically see five days in the 70s. What may be more surprising is an average of only 3 days in the 30s.

When it comes to April precipitation we get around 2.5.” Most of that falls as rain but we still average 2.9” of snow. Keep in mind, the key word is “average,” and any given time can differ from it significantly. A great example is last April. The high temperature on 2nd day of the month was a beautiful 77°. By April 7-8, Winter Storm Ethan rolled in giving the area one last taste of cold. The high on the 8th was only 36°, with a storm total of nearly 6 inches of snow.

Meteorologist Andrew Thut

Snow depth on the decline

March 29th, 2011 at 4:42 pm by under News, Weather

It has been a rough winter in Northeast Wisconsin. At least an inch of snow was on the ground for 99 straight days until a warm spell finally gave the area a taste of spring in mid March. The fever didn’t last long as Winter Storm Francesca dropped nearly 18 inches of snow on Green Bay last week. Since then the snow depth is again on the decline. It has steadily dropped 5 inches since last Thursday. The question is where it is going.

Despite plenty of sunshine this week, melting hasn’t been too much of an issue. Temperatures only briefly climbed above freezing on Monday and Tuesday afternoon. Compaction is part of the reason for the drop in snow depth, but it is more likely most of the snow faded away through a process called sublimation. During sublimation the snow transitions directly to a gaseous state.

It’s more common to see the snow depth erode from sublimation during the late winter. This is because the sun angle is higher during this period than in mid winter. More direct energy from the sun allows the solid ice molecules to switch to the gas phase.

The recent sunshine has allowed for great satellite images of Wisconsin’s landscape. The image below was taken on Tuesday afternoon.

Nearly everything in white represents snow. The deepest snow of about 10-15 inches runs from Green Bay through north central Wisconsin. Southern portions of the state received rain from Winter Storm Francesca and currently have no snow on the ground. That includes Madison and Milwaukee. An image taken Tuesday afternoon from the Milwaukee lakefront is shown below.

What may be even more surprising is the lack of snow to the north. Marquette, Michigan only has a few snow banks left. Northern Michigan University is shown in the image below on Tuesday afternoon.

Green Bay’s snow pack will continue to slowly diminish during the next week. Highs will reach 40° during the next 5 days but overnight lows will be below freezing. Hang in there, it may be awhile before the snow is completely gone.


Meteorologist Andrew Thut

Francesca final snow totals

March 24th, 2011 at 3:39 pm by under News, Weather

Winter Storm Francesca has passed, but until mild temperatures return we will deal with the snow it left behind. To be exact, 17.8 inches in Green Bay. It was a storm that rewrote the record books. It was the 3rd biggest storm in Green Bay’s history and dropped the most snow out of any storm in the last 120 years. The only storms ahead of Francesca were both from the 1880s.

Francesca lived up to what Severe Weather Expert Patrick Powell has forecasted. We were expecting 12-15 inches along high 29 which includes Green Bay and Shawano. The heaviest band of snow was forecasted to stretch from Antigo through Sturgeon Bay. Lower amounts were anticipated for the southern portions of the area where mild air aloft would initially produce precipitation in the form of rain and a wintry mix.

Here’s what actually happened. The highest snowfall total was 18.8 inches in Shawano. The lowest totals were in Sheboygan and Fond du Lac where only 2.0 inches were reported. To find out how much snow officially fell in your area, check out the maps below.

Francesca pushed Green Bay into the top ten list for snowiest winters on record. We jumped all the way to 6th place with 81.7 inches. That’s nearly 34 inches above average.

Here is one more statistic to prove just how snowy this winter has been. For the first time in a season, three storms produced more than 10.0” of snow. Aiden brought 11.0” in early December with Dana dropping 13.9” on February 20-21st.

Now the question is, will we add any more snow to what has already fallen? With cold temperatures forecasted into early April, it’s certainly not out of the question. April typically averages 2.9” of snow.

Meteorologist Andrew Thut

Winter Storm Francesca forecast

March 22nd, 2011 at 5:15 pm by under News, Weather

Last week’s spring-like weather has proven to be a tease. Winter Storm Francesca has arrived and will be one of the biggest March storms on record. Wet snow will become heavy this evening and continue during the overnight. Locations from Green Bay northward will see more than a foot of snow. The heaviest snow (14+ inches) will track from Antigo through Marinette and into Sturgeon Bay.

Amounts will be lower across the southern counties in our area where warmer air will allow precipitation to fall in the form of snow, sleet or freezing rain. The best opportunity for the wintry mix will be areas south of the 9-12 inch band. Mixed precipitation will be the most likely prior to midnight. After that the rain/snow line will drop further south. Snow will begin to lighten up tomorrow but winds remain strong at 20-30 mph out of the northeast.

A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for the northern half of the area through Wednesday evening. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for southern counties.

Not only will the wet heavy snow make it difficult to shovel your driveway, but it could down power lines and break tree limbs. Travel will also be a major concern. For the latest on winter road conditions click here.

Francesca predicted in March forecast

This major winter storm has verified in my March forecast. The forecast made on the first of the month called for a potent storm to hit the state between March 21st and 23rd. Below is part of my blog post which has an explanation for why Francesca was expected.

“March 21-31: A significant storm is expected early in the period. This is all based off a cycle which developed in the fall. Every 43-49 days a potent storm rolls through the state. On October 26th and 27th, one of the strongest non-tropical storms to hit the U.S. produced wind gusts greater than 50 mph for most of the area. 43 days later, Blizzard Aiden arrived dropping 11” of snow on Green Bay. 49 days later, a major storm blasted parts of southern Wisconsin (January 31-February 2) with more than 20 inches of snow.

The next storm appears most likely between March 21-23. The question mark comes down to what kind of precipitation will we receive. If it is all snow is it a repeat of Blizzard Aiden and the southern Wisconsin storm? Another possibility is the rain snow line cutting through the state. This is probably a more likely scenario with severe storms developing to the south.”

Meteorologist Andrew Thut