It's been a fascinating weather pattern across the Chicago land area over the past 48 hours going from winter with freezing rain and sleet on Sunday to spring with record warm temperatures, showers, and thunderstorms. Last night, severe thunderstorms developed along an advancing, northbound warm front producing heavy rainfall and lightning across the area. Sections southeast of the Chicago area including Chicago Heights, Highland (IN), and Chesterton (IN) reported 1" hail from a cluster of severe thunderstorms.
The passage of the warm front last night allowed for records in Chicago to fall. Overnight, Chicago set a record warm low of 40ºF breaking the previous record of 38ºF set back in 1924. This morning at 7am CST, Chicago O'Hare recorded a temperature of 60ºF, breaking the record of 59ºF set back in 1914. It was the 1st 60ºF in January since 2008 and the 34th time for such an event to occur in 141 years of record keeping!
The other story today will be the threat for heavy rainfall and severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center has placed the entire Chicago metro area under the slight risk category for severe weather today and tonight. The threat runs as far north as Chicago and as far south as the Gulf Coast (Texas and Louisiana). A deepening storm system over the central Plains/Rockies associated with a strong upper level trough and supported by powerful jet stream winds aloft is streaming an unusually mild and a reservoir of deep moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. It's a meteorological setup that promises for heavy rainfall and severe weather to break out. The entire Chicago area is under a Flood Watch through tonight as rainfall in excess of 1/50" is expected to fall. That's equivalent to what's seen in July and is on the order of 2 standard deviations from normal this time of year. Showers and thunderstorms will come in waves through tonight. Expect heavy rainfall, hail, damaging winds, and cloud to ground lightning from any thunderstorms that move across the area today.
Winter returns to the region Wednesday. That's when temperatures top out in the lower 40s just to fall into the teens by Wednesday night with rain changing over to light snow. Though not as long or strong as the previous arctic blast, this one will keep high temperatures in the teens Thursday and Friday with low temperatures in the single digits or teens. Another shot of light snow will come late Friday into Saturday.
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