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Let’s start with a number today…23. 23 is the number of days that Milwaukee has gone without a single rain event of more than 0.03″! In the past 23 days, Milwaukee has TOTALED 0.05″ of rain…that’s it!
As a weak cold front passed by late Thursday, so did another chance for rain in most of our area. A few showers occurred around and north of Milwaukee, but overall the dry air won out over southeast Wisconsin. The dew point(measure of moisture at the surface) was only in the 30s Thursday afternoon. Combining this with temperatures in the 60s produced relative humidity readings in the 25-29% range.
This type of dry air is tough to overcome to get rain to reach the surface. The result, virga fell in our northern counties. Virga is precipitation that evaporates before reaching the ground.
An awesome picture of virga was captured by Brian of Sheboygan Thursday afternoon. This picture was posted on the U-Local section of WISN.com Notice the rain(or snow/ice crystals) up in the cloud, as it neared the surface it evaporated. It makes for a great picture, but shows the battle we are fighting to pick up some rain these days.
With a few dry weeks in the books, some may be wondering if we are in any type of a drought or moving in that direction. The quick answer is no, to the question of are we in or close to a drought. Remember, we are coming off the wettest summer on record in Milwaukee. We would have to see several dry months to start to see early signs of a drought.
Below is the latest U.S. Drought Monitor index that was released on Thursday. Notice, even areas of northern Wisconsin which were in a drought to start the summer have returned to around normal.
While it has been dry the past several weeks, storm systems have still slipped by, just with little to no rain. As the jet stream to our north begins to settle south as we near winter, the storms will begin to take on a new look. The long range models also suggest that the final 10 days of October will see an increase in the potential for rain.
I am continuing to look at the overall pattern, and will try to figure out where the long term longwave ridges and troughs are setting up in the next 6 weeks. This will hold the key to the winter forecast, and whether we see a snowy and cold winter. Stay tuned!
For now, I think the dry weather is temporary, but should hold for about the next week to 10 days. So enjoy!