Hazy Skies, Poor Air Quality

Dry weather has wildfires still burning out of control in areas in Ontario—which is the cause of our hazy skies and poor air quality around the region. The good news is the wildfires in far eastern Canada in Nova Scotia are about half contained as of this writing.

On the map of Ontario from their Ministry of Nat’l Resources & Forestry shows the areas in red with extreme fire danger and the fire icons indicate active fires. We’re seeing NNE winds that will bring that smoke, haze, and particulate matter into our skies.

The AirNow map of air quality shows many folks in the Great Lakes region dealing with Unhealthy Air for All to some spots considered downright Hazardous. In Chicagoland, mostly northerly locales will have the worst air quality with our air quality in the Hazardous for Sensitive Groups. Folks with those respiratory issues should limit their time outdoors and not engage in strenuous activities or exercise.

WGN Weekly Climate Report: A few days into June and already racking up days around Chicago in the low 90s.

The stretch of weather with four days in a row at Chicago-O’Hare of 91 degrees have been our warmest days of the year so far.  The unseasonably warm weather has also been unseasonably dry too. We’re already at a rain deficit this month and coming off an April and May that were both incredibly dry.

Normal temps for the second week in the month are in the upper 70s and we’ll see those temps likely for the middle of this coming week.

We did get a bit of rain on the first with some spotty thunderstorms that mostly stayed away from the lake. Spotty storms on the second missed both of Chicago’s airports.

The dry spring has worsened drought conditions across Chicagoland. Everyone is experiencing either abnormally dry weather or Moderate drought, it is far worse than areas to our west. Though our dry weather in the last two weeks has actually meant some beneficial rains for really parched areas from Oklahoma up to the Dakotas.

Cold Front Tuesday Brings Slight Chance for Showers

A backdoor cold front on Tuesday brings a slight chance for showers Tuesday morning.  Better potential for rain is to our west and northwest, but a 20% chance of isolated showers is likely the best chance for rain we’ll see during the workweek.

Tuesday through Thursday will bring us the coolest temperatures we’ve seen in a week and half. 

Highs Tuesday-Thursday will be near or below average.  A Omega block will remain in place from coast to coast, but the broad ridge will be farther west as the Chicago area sees more influence from a north/northwest flow aloft and trough digging more into the Ohio Valley.

The NASA system, known as GUARDIAN—for “GNSS Upper Atmospheric Real-time Disaster Information and Alert Network”—makes use of the distortion of radio signals across a network of navigation satellites—to track tsunamis within 10 minutes of their development.

Here’s how NASA describes the way the system works:

“During a tsunami, many square miles of the ocean surface can rise and fall nearly in unison, displacing a significant amount of air above it. The displaced air ripples out in all directions in the form of low-frequency sound and gravity waves. Within several minutes, these vibrations reach the topmost layer of atmosphere: the Sun-cooked, electrically charged ionosphere. The ensuing clash of pressure waves with charged particles can distort the signals from nearby navigational satellites ever so slightly.”

The GUARDIAN system is described as “the fastest tsunami detection system of its kind” and is capable of sensing tsunamis development within 10 minutes of their development. NASA adds: “…..it could potentially provide as much as an hour of warning, depending on the distance of the tsunami origin from shore.”