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Thursday, June 23, 2022

Seven Day Forecast For Chicago

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Tony Reynes is originally from Fairfield County, Connecticut, where he says it felt like you always knew what to expect from the weather.

In Chicago, thats not the case.

It seems to me out in Chicago, God knows where its coming from next, Tony says.

A self-described weather geek, Tony says he tunes into Tom Skillings evening forecast on WGN. His brother-in-law is a commercial pilot and he also swears by Skillings forecasts, Tony says.

When hes not checking Skillings weather reports, Tony is looking at his favorite weather apps: Weatherunderground, Weather.com, and Hi-Def Radar.

Tony says after learning more about how the weather in Chicago gets forecasted, hes kind of a little bit in awe of a number of variables that I never think about that go into making this amazing stew that we live in.

Hes not likely to ease up on his consumption of weather reports.

Im afraid Im going to look at it more, he says.

Alexandra Salomon is the editor for Curious City. Follow her.

So If Weve Gotten Better At Predicting The Weather Why Does It Always Feel Like The Forecast Is Wrong

Lenning: I think a big part of the reason why people often feel like the weather forecast is unreliable is that theyre not necessarily paying close attention to the source of their forecast. You see more and more activity from amateur bloggers. What some of the apps are showing also bears no resemblance to the forecasts I know are coming from the National Weather Service. I also think its hard to communicate sometimes. When were talking about a range of snowfall for a given event, do people understand that were talking about the range across the entire Chicago metropolitan area, where some areas are likely to see more and some are likely to see much less snow?

Fritz: People notice when the forecast is wrong. You know, if we say it is going to be sunny and warm and it ends up, like, drizzling that day, you will notice. But when the forecast is right, no one notices. So we actually are really good at forecasting. But the problem is we do get it wrong and it impacts peoples lives in a very meaningful and direct way. So we often take the heat for it.

General Weather Conditions In Chicago Il

Chicago, IL, is located on the extreme southwestern shore of Lake Michigan and in the northeastern portion of the state. The location averages about 18 days each year with maximum temperatures in excess of 90°F . July is the warmest month with an average high of 84°F and an average minimum of 63°F . January is the coolest month with an average high of 29°F and an average minimum of 14°F . The highest temperature on record for Chicago is 104°F , recorded in June 1988 and July 1995, and the lowest temperature on record is -27°F , recorded in January 1985. About 132 days each year experience temperatures below 32°F , and an average twenty days each year records temperatures below 5°F . Every month has seen temperatures at or below 41°F and every month except June, July and August has recorded temperatures below freezing .

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Is It More Difficult To Predict The Weather In Chicago Than In Other Parts Of The Country

Eric Lenning:No matter where you are as a local forecaster, you always think your area is the most challenging. I think its because you understand those local challenges better than someone might if theyre not faced with those challenges on a daily basis. But I would put in the upper half of difficult areas to forecast.

Angela Fritz:Chicago is less predictable than, say, the Southwest. Detroit is pretty close, so youd expect them to be around the same , but in Detroit they know whats going to happen a little bit better than in Chicago. But you have it a lot better than, say, the Dakotas. But unpredictability is kind of a scale. Its not either unpredictable or predictable it just gets a little more difficult to forecast.

Victor Gensini:There are some cities that are harder to predict than others. Chicago would certainly be in that upper end of the difficulty range in predictability.

Sevenday Forecast For Chicago

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So What Makes It Somewhat More Difficult To Predict The Weather In Chicago

Gensini: So it depends on the time of year and what you are trying to forecast. The lake can play a huge role in making it difficult to forecast, but I will come back to the idea, still, that this depends on the season. There are certain seasons, for example spring, where the lake could have a huge impact on the forecast. In the summertime, the lake doesnt really have a large impact. Also, the closer you are to the lake, the larger you will see that modification. our weather models we use to help us forecast do incorporate Lake Michigan.

Lenning: So its in part because of the range of conditions we see in Chicago, between severe weather, violent tornadoes, dangerous blizzards, bitterly cold temperatures, and heat waves. But we also have a big lake there next to us that can throw a big question mark into a lot of forecasts. You could have a certain winter storm move through the area and if that exact same storm happened to be 300 miles west , it would be a much more straightforward forecast than one which includes a warm body of water in the middle of it. Lake Michigan also stays warmer than some of the other because it extends farther south, and in the winter time that can be significant.

More About Our Experts

Victor Gensiniis a professor of meteorology at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He became interested in the weather in high school, when a tornado struck his hometown of Putnam County, Illinois. Unfortunately, it killed eight people. It wasnt a particularly good forecast, and I started asking questions, he says.

Angela Fritz is a meteorologist with The Washington Post. Ive always been into weather, ever since I was a little kid. I grew up in Ohio, so we had wide-ranging seasons, and you know wed get severe weather in the summer, and I love thunderstorms. And then, in the winter we get, you know, 70 inches of lake-effect snow, she says.

Eric Lenning is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville, Illinois, where they make forecasts for Lake Michigan, 18 Illinois counties, and five counties in Northwest Indiana. He has worked for the NWS for 20 years. My dad would take me outside, sometimes when the weather was changing, and he talked about how the winds are now out of the South and pretty soon theyll be out of the Northwest. I had an upstairs bedroom with a cloud chart next to my window, Lenning says.

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Name A Place Thats Harder To Predict Than Chicago

Fritz: Tornado alley because severe weather tends to be harder to predict and that is where much of the severe weather is concentrated.

Gensini: Denver, Colorado, or Cheyenne, Wyoming. I stopped at the Cheyenne National Weather Service office last year and I think they have one of the hardest jobs in the country. At those Intermountain West National Weather Service offices, you rely not so much on the weather models you rely on experience, which is beautiful.

Lenning: The Eastern Seaboard, where they get noreasters . This is a massive metropolitan corridor of the United States. Throw into that you have some terrain out there with the Eastern Appalachians and the Adirondacks, you have transportation challenges, you have shipping and marine challenges. You have just so many people in an area where the weather can be challenging. I think all of those factors combined make that an extremely tricky situation.

Where Should People Get Their Forecast

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Gensini: I would suggest that folks go to the source, so the National Weather Service. Thats what your taxes are paying for, and that information is freely available to you through the website. But I will say that I have a soft spot for Tom Skilling . I think hes one of the best on-camera meteorologists, and were so lucky to have him in Chicago.

Fritz:Tom Skilling is a legend in Chicago forecasting. I tend to look to see what Tom is saying because the amount of time that a forecaster has been in an area, it matters. The 30-year forecaster in Chicago is also going to outperform just looking straight at the model data, because he or she will be able to apply their knowledge of the bias and of all the very special weather patterns of Chicago.

Lenning: Naturally, I have to say the National Weather Service.

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