Cold Front To Bring (Somewhat) Cooler Temps to the Midwest / Looking Ahead

Hope everyone that went out for Wisconsin’s opening day had a nice sit. I elected to stay home and take care of a few things given the hot temperatures. As mentioned in the previous forecast discussion a weak cold front is making its way into the midwest. This front has already pushed through the northern plains and western parts of Iowa as this discussion is being written. Some areas will see welcomed temperature drops of around 15 degrees Fahrenheit including southern Wisconsin, parts of Iowa, Minnesota, and the northern half of Illinois. If we look at a map of surface observations from the Storm Predictions Center’s “Mesoanalysis” page (see Weather Tools) we can clearly see the front making its way in:

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Most surface observation maps will not have the fronts marked as they like to do on The Weather Channel and such. However, it’s not too difficult to pick out where they are on your own. There’s a few ways we can find it in this example. 1) If we look at the line of storms stretching from Iowa to Oklahoma we can see the wind direction being mostly from the south-southeast. While if we look northwest of the storms in Missouri and Iowa we can see the wind direction has shifted to coming out of the north-northwest. 2) If we look in the area where the wind direction has shifted we can see that temperatures here are around 15 to 20 degrees cooler than the region to the east of the storms. A drop of 20 degrees would be fantastic after seeing 85 degrees here in Madison today. Unfortunately it looks like the cool air will begin to what meteorologists call “mix out” by the time it makes it to the Great Lakes region. Either way, I will take 70 over 85 this time of year any day. 3) This cold front has kicked up some thunderstorms out ahead of it. We can tell these are being forced by the cold front by their linear characteristic. If we want to further convince ourselves that this is indeed a cold front (making sure the horse is good and beat here), let’s check out Satsquatch:


We can clearly see the very linear structure of the aforementioned thunderstorms (stuff that looks like it’s billowing). We can also see some lower level (likely stratus) clouds behind the front in eastern Nebraska/western Iowa and into Minnesota. Stratus cloud development behind cold fronts is a very common phenomenon. You’ve probably noticed how it is often cloudy following cold fronts in the fall.

Here’s a map of forecast temperatures for 2pm Sunday from the 3km North American Model (NAM):

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3km stands for the resolution of the model. The 3km NAM is a regional model that’s great for this sort of forecast because of its high resolution. The GFS and regular NAM are both 12km resolution and generally perform better when they’re not responsible for small-scale details. Monday morning looks very nice as well:

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Monday may be the best day all week temperature-wise. It looks to jump back into the 80s for highs on Tuesday and for most of the week. Sunday and Monday unfortunately have chances of rain but that isn’t necessarily terrible for hunting. Just depends on how much you care to get wet or if you can hunt from a blind I suppose. It may not be a huge factor on Sunday though; the 3km NAM has most of the rain out of the region by 7-8am with the exception of maybe Illinois/Missouri:

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Parts of Missouri will likely see rain for the better part of the day but most of Illinois should be cleared up by late morning/early afternoon. Monday could be more problematic however; most models have the rain moving in around late morning and early afternoon. They get in and out fairly quickly but it’s difficult to say whether it will clear out before dark, here’s a look at the 3km NAM’s guess at what it will look like around 4pm Monday:

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It’s not fall just yet, but we’re getting closer. I think if it can stay somewhat dry Sunday and Monday will be great days to get out and hunt in the Midwest.

Looking ahead out to a couple weeks to a month is something I have had requests for and it’s something I know many hunters are interested in. Unfortunately, the science is not at the point where we can predict this super accurately; there is extreme uncertainty in forecast models at this range. But, we can use our knowledge of climate history and current trends to get an idea of what the future holds out to 2 or 3 months. I don’t personally like to look more than a month ahead and I’ll explain why. The Climate Prediction Center is responsible for these types of forecasts and they do it based on probability of above or below average temperatures/precipitation. While this is useful information, one week of extreme heat in a month could bias the forecast to say the whole month will be “above average.” This doesn’t mean there won’t be any cool days, it just means that there will definitely be some warmer days. The same can be said in the opposite direction for a “cooler than average” forecast. It doesn’t mean there won’t be any warm days, it just means there will almost certainly be some cooler days. So, for this reason I don’t like to look further than a month because I think beyond that the forecast is much too generalized. However, if you are interested in looking further out I will be posting the link the CPC under Weather Tools shortly after this discussion is posted.

Now if we look at some forecasts from the CPC we can see the 6-14 day outlook pretty much lines up with what we’re seeing right now; it’s warm:

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I think the color bar on this product is fairly self explanatory. Darker reds mean higher probability for above normal temperatures, and vice-versa for darker blues. Based on this, the eastern half of the country looks to continue to be warmer than normal for at least another week or so, with the exception of maybe Sunday and Monday.

Screen Shot 2017-09-16 at 5.31.53 PM

Here’s some good news; looks like we may at least get back to seasonal norms in the weeks to come. Most long range forecast models agree with this. I think we’ll have to tough out another week, maybe two weeks of scattered warm days before it starts to really feel like fall. I’m looking forward to it.

Good luck.


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