Jake Hoey is a freelance meteorologist who graduated from the University of Oklahoma.
As well as a interested in the weather, Jake is an avid traveler, having visited 49 of our 50 states. Jake is also a recurring guest on Happenings Q&A M-F noon till 3pm. Check out Jake’s weather page on Facebook & give it a like.
Love, RAIN o’er Me
The month of May in Kenosha so far has been characterized by cooler than normal temperatures and twice the amount of rainfall as expected. In the one week span from May 13th through the 19th, approximately 4 to 6 inches of rain fell here, whereas normal for the whole month would be around 3.85 inches. This is the second instance of a heavy rainfall event so far this Spring, with 3.5 to 4 inches falling in a 3 day span at the end of April. Flooding is a cumulative hazard, and this previous surplus of rain laid the groundwork for the more troublesome flooding this time around. Likewise, if another instance of heavy rainfall occurs in the near future, we can expect less ground infiltration, more run-off, and ensuing flood worries.
Looking at the year-to-date values so far, most of the greater Kenosha area has seen around 16 to 18.5 inches of precipitation. Normal would be around 10.5 inches to a foot, and our record highest for most rain gauges is close to 20 inches at this point in May. We had lower snow accumulation this past Winter than usual, but as you can see, the past few heavy rains have pushed us up above normal and within striking distance of the record books. Let’s hope the rain eases off and sunshine prevails going forward.
Luckily, our cold trend seems to be coming to an end. By this point in May, our normal high temperatures in Kenosha fall in the upper 60s to near 70°F. We have seen mostly below normal temperatures for the past 2 weeks with few exceptions, including our low temperatures falling into the 20s back on March 9th. Starting this Labor Day weekend, however, we should see highs rise into the 70s to near 80°F with continuing warmth into the following work week. With June right around the corner, it will be nice to see some warm weather to remind us that Summer is fast approaching!
Springtime In Kenosha
(This story originally appeared in the May 7th Issue of the Smart Reader)
Springtime in Kenosha is in full swing, and we have seen quite the roller coaster of temperatures and precipitation lately. Instances of warmer than normal conditions, such as a high of 80°F on April 7th and our balmy first weekend of May, have been interspersed with much cooler than normal temps, like the three nights in the lower 20s from April 14th through 16th. Perhaps the most significant weather event of the season so far has been the heavy rainfall that fell between April 27th and 30th. Around 3.5 to 4 inches of rain fell in the Kenosha area during that time, which is an unusually large amount in such a short time. For perspective, normal rainfall for all of April in Kenosha would be around 3.7 inches, and we observed approximately that in just a 72 hour span. We ended April around 1.5 to 2 inches above normal precipitation, despite having been much drier than normal up until the afternoon of the 27th.
This is just the latest in a string of short term heavy rainfall and flooding events in Kenosha – and not even the most extreme one. Other notable events include around 7 inches of rain between September 9th and 13th of 2019, and 6.5 to 7.5 inches between July 10th and 12th of 2017. No doubt these events will be memorable to many locals due to the copious flooding that ensued. We were lucky this time to fall short of those previous events, but sadly, more instances of short term heavy rainfall are expected to impact us going forward due to our changing climate.
We also saw another instance of troublesome lake shore erosion on the tail end of our late April heavy rainfall. Strong north to northeasterly winds whipped up waves that led to more shoreline loss in some of Kenosha County’s lakeside communities. The extremely high levels of Lake Michigan have persisted, which only exacerbates this problem. We are in the midst of the time of year when lake levels typically rise with our increasing precipitation as Summer approaches, but we are already setting records, so this does not bode well for us. As of May 1st, Lake Michigan is 2 inches higher than it was on April 1st and 10 inches higher than 1 year previously. The average water level for the lake is 33 inches above normal and 2 inches higher than the record level for May, which was set in 1986. Forecasts call for continued rising, but let’s all hope for a drier month of May to help alleviate this issue.
Winter in Kenosha
This story originally appeared in the February 13th, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.
Through the first two months of Meteorological Winter in Kenosha, warmer than normal temperatures have been the dominant. Our cold and surprisingly snowy end to Fall seemed to be a harbinger of frigid air and heavy snow. However, our December was around 6-7°F above normal, with not much snow, and January was closer to 8 or 9°F above normal, with below normal snow. In fact, November’s average temperature was within half a degree of December’s average and within 4°F of January’s (normal would be December more than 12°F colder than November’s average and January 17°F colder). Yes, November was close to 5°F colder than normal, but the consecutive warm months that followed have done much to erase that chill from our memories.
February had a very warm start too, with highs close to 50°F on Groundhog Day, but temperatures moderated somewhat after the first few days. Normal low temperatures through the middle of February in Kenosha would be expected to fall in the upper teens but almost no days this month have been that cold here. So, despite highs nearer to the normal range, we still have, thus far, largely seen milder lows resulting in an above normal running average.
Looking ahead, models seem to be suggesting colder conditions as we begin the second half of February. This cool down would help to balance out our very warm start to the month and could cause monthly average data to recede back towards normal. We might also be entering a more active period precipitation-wise, so will we finally see the cold and snowy winter that was “promised” in October and November? Time will tell! (Note: I am writing this many days ahead of publication, so I am relying on longer term models and outlooks for this info. For more up to date forecasts please visit my Facebook page here.
Remarkable weather events of 2019
This story originally appeared in the January 2, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.
2019 was a year of some wild weather events in Kenosha, so let’s look back and highlight some of the more notable occurrences from the past year.
Perhaps the first major weather event of 2019 was the bitter cold snap of late January. On the 30th we had a high temperature of -12°F and on the 31st a low of -28°F; both of which easily broke records. -28°F is the coldest temperature observed in Kenosha since January of 1985 when we reached a low of -31°F, which still stands as the coldest all time in Kenosha.
April saw some late season snowfall when several inches fell on the 14th but a little over a week later we were enjoying a high of 80°F on the 22nd. Then a few days later another snowfall struck with a couple more inches falling on the 27th but we truly dodged a bullet that time with many forecasts having calling for much more than we actually received.
We definitely can’t forget to mention the heavy rains and flooding that occurred in September and October. September saw around 10 inches of rain which far exceeds the normal amount of around 3.5 inches for the month. October brought an additional 6.5 inches so we stand at years end with around 45 total inches (normal is around 35″) despite the drier November and December.
Halloween was extra scary this year when several inches of snow fell in Kenosha! The 4 inches of snow reported at one observation site are easily the most in one October day and are enough to make it the snowiest month of October in the record books too. We had a high that day of 34°F and a low of 19°F. Both of these set records for coldest high and low for the entire month of October in Kenosha’s recorded history. Few would expect Halloween to be colder and snowier than Thanksgiving or Christmas, but that was the case in 2019!
To round out the year we saw one of the warmest Christmas Days on record. The high topped out at 59°F which is just shy of the all time record set in 1982 of 60°F. No other Christmas, apart from these two has even surpassed the 50°F threshold dating back to the beginning of our data record in 1944.
Will 2020 bring more unusual weather to Kenosha? It seems likely, so perhaps we should just expect the unexpected!
Autumn of 2019 in Kenosha has been a truly wild ride, weather-wise. September was both extremely hot and wet with around 10 inches of rain for much of town (normal is 3.5”) and average temperatures close to 5°F above normal. October started much the same with over 3 inches of rain in the first week, which is more than the normal total for the entire month.
It ended up with a slightly below normal average temperature but the heavy snow on Halloween threw us all for a loop with bitter cold to boot. That frigid air only worsened as November began, and it reached its zenith on the 12th when Kenosha saw a high of only 18°F and a low of 6°F, nearly 30°F below normal!
A couple more rounds of snow accompanied the cold in November, but the pattern of very wet conditions concluded in October, since November had around half to ⅔ as much rain as normal. As we enter the final month of 2019, Fall stands as probably the most extreme season overall due in large part to the high rainfall in September and October.
With over 40 inches of rainfall this year so far, we have already reached one of the highest totals in Kenosha’s recorded history (normal being in the 30-35” range). I’ll expand upon Kenosha’s 2019 weather highlights in a forthcoming column, but what do we have to look forward to for the final month of the year? Most signs point to a relatively mild December with an unfortunate trend of above normal precipitation. Hopefully, for those dreading snow, that warmth means rain is the prevailing precipitation type, but we can’t get that specific with seasonal outlooks.
For the rest of Winter, it doesn’t look as forgiving. January and February have the potential to be quite cold and snowy. Long term outlooks are oftentimes unreliable so let’s hope that’s also the case this time for the beginning part of 2020!