LA NINA WINTERS HAVE A REPUTATION OF PRODUCING SOME VOLATILE WEATHER SWINGS—METEOROLOGICAL/CLIMATOLOGICAL WINTER 2022-23 IS SURE LIVING UP TO THAT CHARACTERIZATION

     Here we are, just a week beyond the brutal Christmas week arctic blast, and we’ve witnessed a temp surge which laid the atmospheric groundwork for rare January Chicago thunderstorms–a number of them with hail—even as equally rare mid-winter tornadoes hopscotched Tuesday across downstate Central Illinois. The official high temp made it to 48-deg Tuesday—a reading 56-deg warmer than the 8-below recorded here the morning of Dec. 23. And when the wind chill is taken into account–the air felt more than 90-deg warmer!

Chicago recorded its first official January thunderstorms in 5 years (since 2018). January thunderstorms aren’t unheard of here—just RARE! Frank Wachowski dug through the records here and found there have only been 56 instances in which thunderstorms have been officially observed in Chicago over the 152-year observational record here dating back to 1871. The greatest number of January thunderstorm reports in Chicago was “4” in 1975.

I’ve included a series of true color GOES EAST weather satellite images of the line of hail generating thunderstorms which swept across northern Illinois Tuesday evening–and also a series of weather maps laying out the atmospheric set-up which produced the tornado-bearing, rotating supercellular thunderstorms responsible for the downstate tornadoes. Also included are the excellent graphics from my National Weather Service Chicago colleagues providing context of just how infrequently tornadoes dance across the state in January.    READ NWS-Chicago’s meteorological overview of Tuesday’s tornado generating set-up.