Chicago temperatures may set record highs today while heavy rain and severe storms sweep the Midwest and the Mississippi River Valley.
Chicago may reach a high for the date of 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 Celsius) later today, surpassing an old mark of 59 set in 1914, according to the National Weather Service in Romeoville, Illinois. Records go back to 1872. The warmth won’t last long. The forecast high on Jan. 31 is 19 degrees.
“Temperatures in the 60s are very rare in January,” the weather service said in statement. “There have only been 33 January days with temperatures of 60 or greater in 141 years, or about once every four years.”
Flood watches have been posted for Illinois to Ohio because of the storm. The heavy rain will fall on frozen ground and probably run off immediately, according to the weather service. The result is the rains won’t help drought conditions much throughout the area, said Tom Kines, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
“Any rain they get out there is good, but the problem is it is coming all at once and a lot of it will run off,” Kines said by telephone. “It won’t do nearly as much good as if it came in April.”
The warm weather will be short-lived. Frigid air is expected to sweep the region, sending high temperatures down by more than 40 degrees within two days. The weather system causing the swings and the rain will move eastward and arrive in New York tomorrow.
Having the two air masses clash will also trigger a series of severe storms along their border, especially in the lower Mississippi River Valley, Kines said.
“The two air masses clashing there will be the recipe for severe weather,” Kines said.
Tornadoes are possible from Illinois to Louisiana and from Texas to western Alabama, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Arkansas has the greatest risk. A tornado watch, meaning the storms may be spawned, was issued across central Oklahoma earlier today.
Dallas has an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms today. Winds of 30 miles per hour may disrupt air travel there.
There is also a 45 percent chance that damaging winds will sweep over Arkansas, as well as parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, the center said. There is a 15 percent chance of hail across most of the lower Mississippi Valley from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico.
The warm air, without the severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, is expected to reach New York tomorrow and push the high to at least 59 degrees, Kines said. The weather service says 2 inches of rain may fall in New York tomorrow night.