Rainy Start To Spring & ‘Signature’ Storm Ahead

***Watch WISN 12 News for the latest weather information!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  Spring got off to a dreary and damp start on Sunday with showers and thunderstorms.  Some of the storms produced downpours and pea size hail.

Meteorologist Sally Severson sent in this photo of pea size hail in Mequon.

Pea Size Hail March 20

If you have a photo to share please post it to the U-Local section of WISN.com  Just click below.


Rain totals were impressive on Sunday with many viewers sending in totals around or in excess of 1.00″!  Here are the totals through 10pm Sunday.  If you have a total to share please post it to the comments section of the blog.

  • Greenfield  1.35″
  • Pleasant Prairie  1.25″
  • Kenosha  1.25″
  • Milwaukee  1.06″ (Daily record for March 20, topping 1.00″ set in 1933)
  • Racine  1.05″
  • Sheboygan  0.73″
  • Fond du Lac  0.65″

The rain will depart later Sunday evening, and that should leave great weather in our area for Monday.  Monday will likely be the best day of weather we see in possibly a week or more, so enjoy it!

The focus for Tuesday-Wednesday is on the part of the weather pattern that I love to call the ‘signature storm’.  This storm has occurred three times in our cycling weather pattern(October 26-27, December 11-12, and February 1-2).  All three times these were memorable storms for the Midwest.

Knowing that the weather pattern is cycling on roughly a 50 day cycle duration right now, the storm that will arrive this week was actually forecast back in February!

Here is how I described this storm back on February 27 right here in the Weather Watch 12 blog!

The ‘signature’ storm should return around March 22-24 and I am expecting a classic Spring storm with a severe weather outbreak in the warm sector, and a major winter storm in the cold sector.

Each time through the cycle over a half inch of liquid precipitation has been measured.  This is one of the wettest storms in this year’s pattern.

The big question is what will southeast Wisconsin see?  I would lean to a rain to snow, with gusty winds with this storm.  Behind the storm a push of cold air will settle in to the region.

The first discussion of exact dates for this part of the pattern, and its return, was discussed back on February 3 in the blog!

I would expect this storm to return again, likely somewhere around March 22-25.  Let the anticipation begin!

Using the LRC, or Lezak’s Recurring Cycle gives us a huge advantage in long range forecasting, but also in knowing if we should believe the models or not.  Let’s look at how the coming storm for this week is taking shape.

Below is the surface forecast map from the HPC for 7 p.m. Tuesday.  Notice the 992mb surface low by northwest Iowa.  At this time the warm front is just south of our area.  In this position showers and t-storms would be possible on Tuesday.

Surface Map March 22, 2011

In the warm sector of the storm a large area has been highlighted by the Storm Prediction Center as being in a ‘slight risk’ for severe storms to occur on Tuesday.  This will be adjusted as the final track of the low is still a little uncertain.

Slight Risk Tuesday

In the colder air over parts of North Dakota east through northern Wisconsin Winter Storm Watches and Warnings are in place for Tuesday into Wednesday.

US Warnings and Advisories March 21

So this will likely be a ‘classic’ Spring storm!

Now if you were wondering how this storm compares to the one that is closest to the current seasonal position of the jet stream, we’ll go back to December 11.  The low pressure center roughly 100 days from March 22 was in northwest Iowa.  Feel free to compare this surface map to the forecast surface map for 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Surface Map December 11, 2010

So what will be the most memorable part of this week’s ‘signature’ storm?  Will it be severe weather?  Or heavy snow?  Only time will tell, but the storm should arrive with rain and thunderstorms in our area on Tuesday!

Please post your thoughts on this storm or anything weather related in the comments section of the blog.

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson


22 Responses

  1. Hey Jeremy, Awesome job as always in predicting this…. You never fail, using this theory! 😀 Even when the models were having difficulty, you stuck by it and will, I’m sure, be right.

    I do have one question though…. wasn’t it only 40-some days between the October and the December storm? Weren’t all the others somewhere around 50-52 days apart rather than in the 40s? Thanks!


    • Dan,

      It was around 46-47 days between the first two signature storms. Since then, the pattern is been right around 50ish days.


    • October 26 – December 11…
      46 days between signature 1 and 2

      December 11 – February 1…
      52 days between 2 and 3

      February 1 – March 22…
      49 days between 3 and 4.

      Most of the signature storms covered two days and these dates are the ones the storms started on.

      • Thanks, Daniel and Jeremy. I thought this year the cycle length was always 50-52, and not such a variation. But what can ya ask for when it comes to mother nature? 😀

        Have a good one!

      • Dan,

        I think back in November or December I put the 46-52 range on the cycle, but really after the Dec. 11 storm everything stayed pretty close to 50 days.


      • Excellent, good to know! Do the signature storms weaken in the coming months, or do they just change position?

      • And is this really overplaying the snow totals?


  2. I hope that you are wrong this time.

    • Karen,

      I think we are close enough that the storm won’t miss us:) The question is can we reside between the severe wx and the snow?


  3. Wow! A big thank you for all you guys do! Because of you.. We can prepare and keep our loved ones safe! God bless

    • Brandi,

      Thanks for reading and being a part of the blog!


  4. The more rain and less snow we have the better I’ve had enough of the white stuff thank you very much. If I get in the mood for white stuff on the ground I will dump flour on the floor. ; p

    • Where’s your sense of adventure, Bryan?


  5. After tonights first dose of thunderstorms, I’m hoping for some good thunderstorms out of this signature storm! Looking foward to the days to come to see what pans out!

    • Nicole,

      It looks like all elevated storms for us. Best chance of severe across Iowa.


  6. Sunday, March 20, 2011 9:20 pm

    Hi Jeremy,

    Rainfall and weather update: additional 0.05 inches since 4:10pm

    Pleased to report none of the ‘nasty’ stuff that was being shown by the Irad markers for the second batch that came through ever materialized in my location. Had a bit of rain & some lightning and thunder. No strong winds or hail.

    Tony (Pl. Prairie)

  7. My Davis Vantage Vue recorded 1.67″ of rain, and isolated thunderstorms. We also had pea sized hail.

    • Thanks, Chris. Where are you located?


  8. Hi, WW12 Team!

    I don’t have my rain guage out yet, so I can’t give you a total on Sunday’s storm for my location here in Dodge County, but I can share a few other observations. We did have rain all day and into the evening, with several heavy downpours, thunder, lightning, and at least two times when it hailed.

    Beetween 2 and 2:30 in the afternoon, we had STRONG WINDS. No thunder, no lightning, no hail, but heavy rain and VERY STRONG WINDS. It was so windy that the rain was literally hitting the windows dead center, rather than “coming down” as rain usually does. I couldn’t even open the front screen door, as the wind was pushing so hard against it. {The front of our house faces east.} I remember hearing that a tornado “sounds like a freight train” and that’s exactly what this wind sounded like. As suddenly as the wind started, it quit, and the trees were still again. I didn’t hear or read any reports similar to this experience from anyone else. Do you think think this was “straight line winds”? Or just a unique aspect of the storm in our area?

    One other observation to share is that we have a lot of standing water in our area. If the “signature storm” brings us another inch of rain, I fear we will be looking at flooding.

    Where would the storm have to travel — track wise — for us to get in the snow section? Or is that just not a reality any longer due to the time of the year?

    As always, I appreciate you taking time to answer.

    Maybe I’ll have to dig out that rain guage for this next storm, eh?

    Don in Reeseville

    • Don, I experienced some of this as well, but not to the extreme you did. I believe we experienced what is known as a wake low. As an area of rain moves by there can be a rapid rise in pressure and that can transport winds from aloft to the surface. However, normally skies clear rapidly in this situation.

  9. Monday, March 21, 2011 11:28 am

    Thought I was ‘done’ for the day with my 9:20pm post of yesterday. Had a small, rather intense bit of rain though hit right around 10pm. So, checking my gauge just awhile ago today, it seems I picked up another 0.08 inches of rain from that. After doing all the math, (1.20 + .05 + .08) I’m going to state that my total rainfall from this recent event is 1.33 inches. Looking forward to seeing, (measuring) what this next storm brings.

    Tony (Pl. Prairie)

    • Thanks, Tony,

      We really appreciate the updates.


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