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Weather Blog: Summer Numbers & Up & Down Labor Day Weekend
September 1, 2011

Thanks for stopping by the WeatherWatch 12 Blog!!

Luke Sampe  here and we are going to talk about Summer 2011, and look at the hot and muggy start to September and the Labor Day Weekend rollercoaster!

This week is flying by and we are almost to the holiday weekend!

Labor Day Weekend often times marks the unofficial end to summer…I know it’s a bummer for some, but the end of one season and the changing to another is what makes living in Wisconsin so “interesting”…right???!!!

In fact, from a records standpoint, Summer 2011 is OVER!

You see, there are several ways to gauge a season, and for measurements and records, “Meteorological Summer” starts June 1 and last through August 31. Why the difference you may ask….well consistency really.

Having everyone calculate averages to even points on the calendar allows for easier comparison. Don’t worry for you summer lovers, Astronomical Summer still lingers on for another 3 weeks or so.

So now that Summer 2011 is in the books, lets talk some stats…

It turns out Summer 2011 racked up 13 days in the 90s, that over doubled the 6.4 days we average!

Milwaukee’s hottest temperature happened on July 20th when the mercury soared to 98 degrees at Mitchell Field! We did not hit 100 degrees however this summer.

We averaged a high temp of 80 degrees and a low temp of 63 degrees which puts us about 2 degrees above normal in the temperature department for Summer 2011.

As for precip, well it was a dry season. We only logged 7.63″ of rainfall through the coarse of the entire 3 month season! That’s a daily average of just 0.08″ of rain! We ended up about 4″ below our normal seasonal summer totals.

We certainly need the rain and as we head into fall and winter, typically moisture availability decreases as temperatures cool down. For the year we are running abouth 0.90″ down from normal in the precipitation tally….so 2011 could end up a dry year.

Now onward and upward…

Today marks the start of a new month and we aleady are feeling the looming rendezvous of heat that will kick off the Labor day weekend. Get ready for a rollercoaster in terms of temps, humidity and even a few storm chances.

First off, lets starts with Friday, many of you may have travel plans, let’s hope your A/C is working well. Highs will easily jump into the upper 80s to low 90s across much of our area. Here’s a look at the high resolution in house model known as the RPM model. We use this model for guidance in many areas of the forecast and I think you can see what we mean!

You can easily see the difference in airmass from SE WI, to NW WI. Anytime you see a stark contrast like this (80s/90s to low 70s, there has to be a front moving through, and that is exactly what is going to happen. The first of a series of cold fronts will arrive Friday afternoon. With all the heat and humidity around, there will be plenty of fuel for t-storms. The cold front approaching will act like a source of lift and help to hoist up the high energy, moisture filled air Friday afternoon to Friday night prompting a threat of some storms to fire.

Here’s the National Weather Services’s Outlook for severe weather Friday evening and night.

It does look like the greatest chance of storms and rain would be Friday evening and lasting into Saturday off and on. Especially the first half of Saturday. Here is a few images taken from our RPM model depicting clouds and precipitation into early Sunday.

Notice the broken line of t-storms in southern WI Friday late afternoon.

 Again, a few scattered showers and storms are possible into Friday night. So grab the umbrella just in case you might catch one heading out to Friday night football!

 Here’s midday Saturday, and it looks like the greatest threat for rain would be in our southern counties (south of I94 on Saturday).

It does look like by Sunday, the first of two cold fronts will be far enough away that mostly sunny skies should prevail, but we will notice temps will be back down in th 70s with much drier air filtering in. And come early Labor Day Monday, another reinforcing shot of cool Canadian air will arrive, putting highs in the 60s by Labor Day itself!!

Here’s a look at the setup Sunday and Monday…

I hope you have a great holiday weekend. Of course tune into 12 News tonight and Friday for the very latest on the weekend forecast details.

Meteorologist Luke Sampe


Weather Blog: Parched August, Some September Heat
August 29, 2011

Thanks for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 Blog!!

Luke Sampe here again and in tonight’s entry, I am going to talk about how crazy dry we have been this month and talk about when the 90s will return to southeast Wisconsin.

Without a doubt, the biggest headline in the weather-world has been Hurricane Irene. Irene did not deliver the intense winds and surge that was anticipated to New York and the northeast, but the storm did deliver incredible amounts of rain from North Carolina north through New England.

In looking at the reports, I came across a rain total of over 20″ at Virginia Beach, with 8-16″ of rainfall common throughout much of the eastern seaboard.

The fact that Irene basically clogged up the weather patterns for the last week or so, meant that us in southeast Wisconsin saw very little change in our weather.

In fact, you almost have to feel guilty when we get to enjoy sunshine and 70s and 80s day after day, when much the eastern U.S. was finding themselves in flooding.

But the lack of rain around here is starting to become a problem. At Mitchell field, only 0.56″ of rain fell so far this August.

This means that our deficit is now over 3.00″ in the rain gauge, and we need rain.

If we do not receive another drop of rain before the end of the month, August 2011 will go down as the 7th driest August on record. Pretty significant considering records go back to 1871.

Here’s a list of the top driest August months at Milwaukee…

1) August 1894 0.29″ of Rain

2) August 1929 0.35″ of Rain

3) August 1883 0.38″ of Rain

4) August 1948 0.46″ of Rain

5-6) August 1969, 1902 0.53″ of Rain

7) August 0.57″ 2003

Our hopes for rain do not look that impressive before September 1st.

A weak disturbance will try to nose into the dry airmass in place on Tuesday, and by Tuesday night, we could see a few light rain showers around, but not everyone will get wet.

Here’s a look at Weather Watch 12’s in-house model for Tuesday evening.

So as you can see, the hopes for widespread rain is not that high. Looking more like a nuisance than anything else.

Here’s a look at projected rainfall totals through Wednesday afternoon.

So a top 10 driest August is looking all but certain.

What about our new month of September?  Well as the kids get ready to head back to the classroom, the 90s will be in heading back to southeast Wisconsin.

Didn’t you love it when you went back the school and the weather would give you one last tease of summer while you had to suffer through the first days of school!? (Ah to go back to those days!)

Well that’s what the kids will have to endure by Thursday and Friday of this week. The bright spot to talk about would be that some storms might actually bring some much needed rain late Friday. Which means you may need the umbrella for Friday night football.

Here’s a look at the storm that will bring our warmup later this week.

Alright! That will do it for now, thanks again for reading and be sure to drop a comment and say hi.


Hot Weekend Forecast and Haboob Explained
July 8, 2011

Sorry for no post the last few days. We continue to work on switching our blog to the new format.
Our great July weather continues. Day after day of sunshine. We have earned it after our pretty crummy spring. Some of you are hoping for some rain and you may be in luck on Sunday. What is certain is the return of more humidity and warmer temperatures. It will be sticky all weekend. If you are travelling around the state, here is what you can expect. Saturday will be warm, but dry for much of the state. A slight chance of storms late in the day in the western part of the state.

Sunday will bring a better chance of rain across the state. It will not be as sunny as Saturday. The best chance for storms in Southeast Wisconsin will be late in the day. Don’t change your plans on Sunday because I think most of the day will be dry.

I’m sure most of you have had a chance to see the dust storm that slammed Phoenix last Tuesday evening. This was an incredible storm with winds above 60 miles per hour. Of course, Phoenix is surrounded by desert so those strong winds picked up the dust and sand. The Phoenix area has been very dry, which is typical. This time of year, the monsoon season begins. That means that the desert southwest can get these storms to blow up, especially late in the day. The dust storms are officially known as a “haboob.” The term comes from the arabic word “habb” which means wind. Typically these types of dust storms occur along the Sahara desert. Take a look at this video of someone driving into the haboob on Tuesday evening.

Driving into a haboob can actually be quite dangerous. Visibilities can be near zero. The dust actually rose to over a mile in the air. Here is a picture from ABC News as the storm hit downtown.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about haboobs in Wisconsin. It has been dry, but we are way too far away from any deserts. Have a great weekend and stay cool.



Great 4th, Lake Warming, And Storm Chances
July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July from Weather Watch 12.  It was a wonderful 3-day weekend of weather. Highs in the 80s all three days. I hope you all enjoyed the great weather.

Jeremy mentioned it yesterday, but we are in our longest streak of the year without measurable rainfall. Today makes 11 days. After many cloudy, snowy, and rainy days for the first half of 2011, this streak has been nice. It is amazing how fast the surface soil dries. We could actually use some rain. We have a chance late tomorrow, but not a great chance. A cold front will move through Wisconsin on Tuesday arriving in our area late in the afternoon. A few storms are possible along the front. We will monitor for a slight chance of severe weather. Here is our high-resolution model for tomorrow afternoon at 5pm.

The RPM model is more liberal in putting in storms than the other models. For those of you hoping for rain, I hope the RPM verifies. I have mentioned this before, but the RPM has a very good track record for a 24 hour forecast. It is my model of choice for a one-day forecast. Here are the NAM and GFS models for Tuesday evening.

I would not count on getting rainfall, but a few locations in our area will likely at least get some rain. The rest of the week looks dry and sunny. Cooler and less humid air will be around Wednesday-Friday.

The sunny skies, light winds, and warm temperatures the last few days have dramatically warmed Lake Michigan. The surface water has warmed more than 10 degrees in one week. When there is light winds, upwelling does not occur. Upwelling is when the cooler waters in the deeper sections of the lake are transported to the surface. This happens when wind pushes the surface water and allows the cooler waters to move upward. Take a look at the lake surface temperature as measured from space.

Keep in mind this is the surface. It is much cooler just a few feet down. Here are temperatures of Lake Michigan for the last five years.

Most of this spring and early summer have been below the temperatures of the last few years. If we continue to have light winds, that could change.

Have a great week.


Dry Spell Continues, Sprinklers on Standby
July 3, 2011

***Happy 4th of July from the entire Weather Watch 12 team!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  Anytime the word ‘dry spell’ and a holiday weekend are mentioned in the same sentence it can only mean good news!

Sunday marked the 10th consecutive day with no rain at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport.  That streak will get extended to at least 11 days after the 4th of July.  So we are in the middle of the longest dry spell so far in 2011!

The dry weather on Sunday was accompanied by some high clouds.  The clouds were blown off showers and t-storms over Iowa and Missouri.  Any rain stayed well to our south.  Below is the visible satellite image from Sunday afternoon.  The high clouds are labeled, and so is an area in Minnesota and Wisconsin where skies were sunny. 

Visible Satellite Sunday July 3

The sunshine will spread over all of southern Wisconsin for the 4th of July, and with dew points around 60, and highs in the low 80s, it looks fantastic!  One way to forecast cloud cover is to use the NAM computer model’s water/ice forecast in all levels of the atmosphere.  Keep in mind that clouds are made of water(low/mid level clouds…like cumulus clouds) and ice(high clouds…think cirrus).  When no moisture is forecast in our area as shown by the map below, that should mean a sunny 4th!

NAM Forecast Clouds July 4

With the dry weather and highs recently 80 or warmer, we are beginning to dry out at the surface.  Some rain would be nice this week, but the chances are looking low at this point.  A weak front will near the area later Tuesday and into Wednesday.  An isolated shower or t-storm is possible, but not probably at this point.

The RPM computer model rainfall forecast through Wednesday at 1pm is shown below.  The main thing to take away from this image is that even if it does rain, it may not be much.  Milwaukee is labeled with an ‘*’ on the map.

RPM Rainfall July 6

Overall a quiet stretch of weather ahead, and one that I’m sure most will enjoy.  For now you may want to keep the sprinkler on standby as gardens and lawns may need a drink very soon.

If you have any thoughts or questions please share them in the comments section of the blog.  Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

Jeremy Nelson

Number Crunching & Great Fireworks Forecast
July 2, 2011

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

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  I hope you and your family are having a great holiday weekend!  Weatherwise we lose the humidity for Sunday, but keep most of our sunshine around. 

The good news is there are no storms in the forecast through Monday.  We continue to receive pictures from the storm that hit eastern Racine and Kenosha counties last Thursday.  Tony, one of our bloggers from Pleasant Prairie sent this picture in of the sky as the wind approached at 8:18pm on June 30.

Pleasant Prairie June 30

We’ll talk plenty about the forecast for the holiday weekend in a moment.

First, I wanted to pass along some numbers that I thought were fascinating.  Overall temperatures have been below average in Milwaukee so far in 2011.  But something I noticed really stood out in my mind…the lack of days at or above 80 degrees.  In looking at January through June, there were only 10 days with highs of 80 or warmer.

I discussed this with someone at the NWS in Milwaukee, and found that in the past 37 years, the first 6 months of the year have produced 10 or fewer highs of 80+ only 3 times!  Here are the years…

  • 2011
  • 1992
  • 1974
  • Since 1800s this has occurred 23 times in Milwaukee

That was interesting stat number one.  The second stat relates to the ‘signature’ storm which just impacted our area again in the past couple of days.  This time through the main energy with the low was to our north, but severe weather occurred late on June 30, and then windy conditions both June 30 and July 1.  If you are wondering what is this ‘signature’ storm I’m talking about.  Just click on the link below to find out more about the weather pattern and a review of the summer forecast.

Summer Forecast & LRC Explainer

One result of the ‘signature’ storm almost every time through the cycle has been gusty winds.  The ‘signature’ storm first appeared in late October, and has cycled back 5 more times in the repeating weather pattern.  From late October to July 1 that is a span of roughly 250 days.

In those 250 days, Milwaukee recorded wind gusts of 40mph or greater on 24 different days.  Of those 24 days, 10 of them were during one of the ‘signature’ storms!  This means that about 42% of the wind gusts of 40mph or greater occurred with a storm system that appeared 6 times between October 26 and July 1!  

The ‘signature’ storm will always be the feature that defined the LRC of 2010-2011, but the pattern isn’t done quite yet.  Let’s see if July 19 brings some hot weather back to southeast Wisconsin!

No hot weather in the forecast for the rest of the holiday weekend, but certainly warm.  High pressure is dropping into the western Great Lakes for the next 2 days and with it a lot less in the way of humidity, and also slightly cooler temperatures.

Below is the surface forecast map for Sunday at 1pm.  The big ‘H’ will deliver a nice Sunday.

Surface Sunday July 3

The comfortable weather should hang on into the 4th of July.  The dew points may increase a bit later in the day, but overall dew points should be in the 50s to low 60s…which is hard to beat this time of year.  Below is the dew point forecast map from the NAM computer model for Monday.  Dry weather should prevail in southeast Wisconsin through Monday too.

Dew Point 4th July

With great weather have a blast at the fireworks celebrations in our area!  Make sure to watch WISN 12 News for the updates all weekend long.

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson



Where did the heat go? And More On The Storms
July 1, 2011

A heat advisory was in effect for much of the day, but we never reached heat advisory criteria here. So what happened? We never even made it to 90 and our heat index stayed under 95. The heat advisory was cancelled for most of our counties, but continues in Fond du Lac, Jefferson, and Dodge counties until 9pm.

The reason for missing the heat had to do with thunderstorms that rumbled north to south across Lake Michigan this morning and early afternoon. That brought us some cloud cover, but also kept the wind southeast until later in the day. That kept our temperatures a little cooler and dewpoints stayed in the low to mid 60s. Tonight the dew points are much higher hovering around 70 degrees. Our lows tonight will be warm, staying in the 70s and it will be sticky.

The holiday weekend forecast is a good one. All three days look to have plenty of sunshine. It will be hot and sticky on Saturday with highs in the upper 80s.  A cold front will move through in the morning, but chances of storms will be very minimal. Cooler air will then arrive on Sunday and Monday. Sunday looks great with highs in the upper 70s near the lake and lower humidity. Independence Day will be sunny and comfortable with a high of 80. The weather will be great for all the fireworks and parade celebrations. For a list of all the parade times and fireworks in your area click here:

I wanted to talk a little more about the crazy storms that hit on Thursday evening in Racine and Kenosha counties. Even though little to no rain fell, the storms brought 60-80 mile per hour winds knocking down hundreds of trees and taking out power to over 20,000 customers. In all my years here, I have never seen a storm over Lake Michigan create a downdraft that moved east. It was a very unusual storm. I wanted to show you what the storm looked like in 3 dimensions. It was a very powerful storm.

The storm was over 50,000 feet tall and had a hail shaft that rose to 30,000 feet. That is really incredible for around here.  A big thank you to the National Weather Service for providing the image above. There were some amazing pictures of huge 50-100 year old trees knocked to the ground from the straight-line wind damage. The first one is from Vick Frederick on 13th Street in Racine.

Vick was rather fortunate this did not hit the house directly. The next image was sent to my Facebook page from Amada Aude of Racine. 

The clean up will take a long time. I have talked to quite a few long-time residents from Racine and Kenosha and many say this is the worst storm that they have ever seen. Always remember to stay away from power lines after a storm like this. Treat all of them as if they were live even if they are not sparking.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend from Weather Watch 12.


High Winds Strike Racine/Kenosha Counties…Heat Follows
June 30, 2011

***Watch WISN 12 News for more on the Heat Advisory!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  A severe thunderstorm over Lake Michigan sent damaging outflow winds crashing into lakeshore areas of Racine and Kenosha counties Thursday evening.

Here is a list of some of the storm reports that were received in our weather center.

  • Racine Airport  66mph, several trees/branches down in the area
  • Kenosha Airport  58mph, downed trees
  • Large trees uprooted in Kenosha along the lakeshore
  • Shingles blown off homes 1 mile north of Racine Airport

Most of the damaging wind gusts were reported between 7:48pm and 8:10pm.  Below is the radar image at 7:50pm.  Notice that the thunderstorm cell stayed OVER the lake, but the damaging winds rushed out from the storm.  With no buildings, homes, or trees over the lake the winds had nothing to slow them down, and slammed into lakeshore areas creating winds of 60 to 70 mph.

Severe Storm Thursday, June 30

The result of the strong winds were numerous downed trees, power outages, and lots of cleaning up to do.  Our viewers again were awesome sending in lots of pictures.  This picture was one of the first that I received from Karen Aber of Racine.  This tree blocked a side street as people looked on.

Racine Trees Down June 30

Winds didn’t reach severe levels in Milwaukee, but gusts close to 50mph knocked this tree over at 13th avenue.  The picture was posted by a mobile user on the U-Local section of the

South Milwaukee Tree Down June 30

To post your pictures to the U-Local section just click the link below.


This picture is from the north side of Kenosha at 22nd avenue.  The fence fell over and landed on the gazebo.  Thanks to user ‘Smetjb8709’ for the picture!

Kenosha Gazebo June 30

One last picture from Nikey Mattson of Caledonia.  Here the winds toppled a tree and took out another gazebo.

Caledonia Storm Damage

As the clean-up gets underway on Friday, so will some extreme heat.  Highs will jump into the 90s, but the dew point, a measure of moisture will surge into the 70s.  The combination of heat and humidity will result in heat indices over 100 degrees in many locations during peak heating.  To keep tabs on the heat index at your house, feel free to use the NWS chart below.

Heat Index Chart

If you are working or playing outside on Friday, make sure to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water!  Stay hydrated!

For the latest on the heat and any storm over the holiday weekend, watch WISN 12 News.

Have a great day and stay cool!

Jeremy Nelson

Heat & Humidity Returns Friday
June 29, 2011

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

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  After a relatively cool stretch of weather in Milwaukee the past 2 weeks, hot and humid weather is set to return for Friday.

Highs have reached the 90s three times this year, and Friday should make it 4 in Milwaukee.

The extreme heat and humidity is already prompting ‘Excessive Heat Watches’ in the Plains and Midwest for Thursday.  Below is a map showing the locations that are under a watch, and likely will be upgraded to a warning by Thursday.  Some cities included are Minneapolis, Des Moines, Kansas City, and Wichita.

Excessive Heat Watch June 30

The heat will push east on Friday, and land across Wisconsin.  By Friday afternoon winds should turn to the southwest pushing highs into the 90s across all of southern Wisconsin.  The RPM temperature forecast shows the sizzling forecast for Friday below.  Keep in mind it is trying to push a little lake breeze into Milwaukee, but I think highs will reach 90 or better in the city on Friday.

Friday Temperatures June 30

Along with the heat, it will feel very humid in the coming days.  The NAM computer model is forecasting dew points to be around 80 degrees on Friday.  That may be a bit of a stretch…but there are a couple of factors that could enhance dew points.  The corn crop is now farther along in the Midwest, the evapotranspiration can add moisture to the air, and also the soils in southern Wisconsin are moist from a fairly wet June.

Below is the dew point forecast map for Friday.  If this were to verify the heat index would easily climb above 100 in Milwaukee!

Dew Point Friday July 1

The heat will likely be a bigger story than any rain chances in the next two days.  Overall the threat for a shower or t-storm does exist on Thursday and Friday, but rain chances are about 20-30% as of this writing.

Stay with the Weather Watch 12 blog and WISN 12 News for the latest on the heat and rain chances.

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson


Perfect Weather To Kick Off Summerfest!
June 28, 2011

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

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  The longest dry spell in Milwaukee since March is upon us.  Great news as the biggest music festival of the year begins on Wednesday…Summerfest.

Back on March 10-19 Milwaukee recorded 10 consecutive dry days.  Tuesday will mark day number 5 without rain in Milwaukee.  That streak should last at least another couple of days. 

The dry weather through Wednesday will be accompanied by comfortable highs in the 70s.  Average highs are now around 80 degrees, so we will be very seasonal heading into mid-week.  Below is the forecast surface map on Wednesday.  The big ‘H’ over the western Great Lakes should make everyone happy!

Surface Wednesday June 29 

As the warm front ‘shown in red above’ marches into the Midwest by Thursday it will turn warmer and also more humid.  With increased moisture and heat, along with a front around, some isolated showers and storms may pop up late Thursday into Friday.  Again it is tough to pinpoint where any showers may develop, so don’t cancel any plans later this week.

In fact, I would make plans to hit the pool or beach by Friday, as highs will jump to around 90 in southeast Wisconsin.  It will be our first true taste of heat since we saw three straight record highs in early June.  By Thursday the heat will be sizzling the Plains.  Look at the NAM temperature forecast map below.  Highs in central Kansas will jump to 110 or higher!

The 90s on the map below will extend into southern Canada.

NAM Thursday June 30

For this week I’m highly confident on nice weather for Tuesday-Wednesday…and for part of Thursday.  Also confident in a very warm/hot Friday.  Confidence is lower for a chance of showers later Thursday into Friday.  Make sure to watch WISN 12 News for the updates on rain chances this week.

Also, ‘like’ us on Facebook.  We have a new home and even more weather updates!  Just click below…

Weather Watch 12 Facebook

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson