Showers brought smoke down to the ground Friday, but modeling thins smoke layer Saturday into Sunday

Sunday could see near 80-degree temperatures inland; more substantial warming next week—could pause lakeside Thursday/Friday? Early indication: a warm Memorial Day weekend may be ahead

Another lackluster day on the precipitation front

  • Just 0.03” fell at the airports in Chicago in what has been the 10th driest May open of the past 151 years. That places May’s opening 19 days among the driest 6% of all May opens on the books—with the monthly rain tally of 0.42” just 16% normal. The month is running 2.66” below normal.
  • Temps topped out at 74 degrees Friday—2 degrees above normal. While May 2023 is running 1.6 degrees above normal, the month is running 2.6 degrees cooler than the opening 19 days of May a year ago. The day produced only an estimated 34% of its possible sun, reports veteran Chicago NWS observer Frank Wachowski.
  • A cold front has passed and now a gusty north/northwest flow is to bring cooler air into the air Friday night and lead us into a modestly cooler than normal start to the weekend with temps Saturday predicted to top out at 67 degrees—a reading 5 degrees below normal. And, with winds to blow into the Chicago shoreline off Lake Michigan Saturday afternoon, high temps at the beach should hold to the upper 50s to around 60.
  • Lots of sunshine is expected this weekend and no rain. Only scattered clouds are anticipated. Warmer temps take hold by Sunday afternoon with highs surging to 77 degrees. Weaker lake breezes mean less cooling on area beaches than on Saturday—but temps there will hold to the mid to upper 60s.
  • While smoke off Canadian wildfires has produced haze much of this past work week, modeling suggests less of that smoke is likely in the skies above Chicago Saturday and into Sunday—though some increase in the smoke level may occur Sunday night into Monday. So, bluer skies are in our future this weekend.
  • A warmer overall pattern takes hold next week and the week which follows. Temps next week surge 7 degrees higher as a weekly average than this week and 80-degree daytime highs are likely Tuesday and Wednesday. But note: there is some evidence the pressure gradient beneath the southern flank of a Canadian high pressure could impact the Chicago area strengthening easterly winds Thursday into Friday. If this turns out to be the case, that could lower temps, particularly along Lake Michigan—even though the overall air mass is to be warmer than what we’ll be seeing going into this week. So, there may be a bit of disunity to the warmth, especially lakeside—especially the latter portion of next week.
  • But, beyond that—current indications are that the Memorial Day weekend is looking warm with temps potentially reaching the mid to upper 80s. And, an above normal temp regime appears likely to dominate overall next week and the week after—which takes us through the closing days of May 2023 and toward the open of June 2023 ( a week from this coming Thursday).


Canadian wildfire smoke is being mixed down to the surface across a swath of the Midwest by showers

Computer modeling suggests the smoke is to abate here heading into the weekend, though it could return later Sunday or Monday before an upper pattern shift guides smoke into area well north of Chicago as next week proceeds

  • The Canadian wildfires, which have produced the smoke responsible hazy skies and colorful sunrises and sunsets of recent days across a wide swath of the country including the Chicago area, continue to burn.
  • Computer model projections of the upper winds which have been disseminating the smoke across North America, will continue feeding smoke aloft into sections of the Midwest, through the forecasts indicate there may be a let-up in the smoke over Chicago proper over the coming weekend—though some may return by later Sunday into early next week then abate as a dome of warm air develops over the area and upper steering winds guide smoke into areas well north of Chicago.
  • The best estimate is these fires have charred 1.89-million acres in Canada. Some of the smoke is being mixed down to the surface in Illinois and Wisconsin by Friday’s showers
  • Air quality is being impacted Friday in parts of the Midwest as indicated in the map posted below. Air quality issues are even more widespread to our west in the Plains, Rockies and western Canada.
  • The ongoing precipitation deficit and very warm weather worsened conditions favorable for wildfire development. Year-to-date, dozens of wildfires have already burned an area of more than 764,000 hectares (1.89 million acres).
  • America experienced temperatures running 15 – 25°C (up to 45°F) above normal during several consecutive days, as a result of an extensive high-pressure area over western part of the continent. Many monthly temperature records were broken and some of them exceeded previous records by several degrees. Numerous high-latitude stations saw extreme temperatures for this part of the year. Prolonged period with dry and warm weather enhanced conditions for wildfire development and spreading.


Large area temperatures spread predicted again Saturday afternoon thanks to “NE WINDS” off the lake

Temperatures to range from 50s along the lake to the low 70s far west/southwest suburbs


Through 7 PM Friday, May 26th

Chicago’s exceptionally dry May precipitation deficit to grow — NO RAIN expected for at least the next week


It was 43 years ago May 18th that Mt. St. Helens underwent a cataclysmic eruption—an eruption which unleashed energy the equivalent of 25,000 Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs—an eruption which sent superheated gas and rock exploding sideways at speeds of 400 miles per hour.

GOES Satellite imagery of the eruption May 18, 1980


Warmer pattern taking shape next week into the long Memorial Day holiday weekend


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