If you’re wondering whether Steve Wrobleski is having buyer’s remorse, the answer is “no.”
The superintendent of La Salle-Peru Township High School oversaw a massive renovation of the high school and one of the upgrades was air-conditioning. Not everyone is pleased. Wrobleski spotted a few students and faculty wearing sweatshirts — “72 degrees for some folks is chilly,” he observed — but a short walk outside showed him the money was well spent.
“On the really hot day, I walked out of the building at lunch time only to be swatted in the face with a heat blast,” he said, “and thought to myself, ‘Wow, it is really hot outside and quite comfortable inside the building.’”
Have you run your air-conditioner lately? Even though we’re 19 days into autumn, the mercury is indeed rising again. Monday hit a daytime high of 82 degrees and that’s going to feel cool by the time today’s NewsTribune hits your doorstep, when temperatures could crack 90 degrees.
“Definitely on Wednesday we’re flirting with some record heat,” said Ben Deubelbeiss, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville.
It’s not a heat wave — we’d have to crack 100 degrees for that. It’s not an Indian summer, either — that can only happen after the first frost appears. But, yes, this is definitely abnormal for October.
Deubelbeiss attributed the near-record surge to an expansive front that stretches from the Colorado Rockies all the way to Maine. North of the front it’s quite cool — northern Wisconsin and Minnesota are in the 50s — while those of us south of the front are feeling what Deubelbeiss termed “very unseasonably warmth.”
And it’s not over yet. Look for a yo-yo effect as temperatures swing from fall to summer (a high Friday of 82 degrees) and back to fall again by the weekend. Oh, and did we mention it’s going to rain on Burgoo weekend?
“Around here we don’t mention the R word,” chided Amanda Carter, events coordinator for the La Salle County Historical Society, which runs the Burgoo Festival. “Although there is a slight chance Saturday morning we will continue to hope that the chance disappears before the weekend.
“If we talk about it,” she cautioned, “it might deter people from coming so we will just hope for the best — and be prepared if it’s not.”
Fortunately, the Burgoo Festival has proven to be virtually weather proof. Visitors come flocking in whether it’s scorching or freezing, parched or raining.
In any case, autumn 2018 is shaping up to be an extension of summer 2018. September had seven days above 90 degrees and seven days of 70 degrees or cooler. The head of the La Salle County Farm Bureau isn’t complaining. He’s worried less about the temperature swings than about the rain forecast through next week.
“It will slow harvest down, but we’re probably 10 days ahead of schedule,” David Isermann said. “It will definitely slow bean combining when it’s wet; you can harvest corn when it’s a little damp.
“We’re in good shape overall.”
Remember the blizzard of 2011? Brenda Bernardoni does.
The Tonica mom went into labor with her first son amid a storm that shut down the Illinois Valley with snow and 53-mph gusts. The ambulance took 45 minutes getting her to the hospital. She hasn’t endured such a ferocious winter since — and she wonders now if maybe we’re due.
“We’ve been pretty lucky the last two years — not much snow or colder temperatures,” she said. “I’m thinking we are due up this year for a bad winter.”
Bernardoni isn’t the only one who thinks so. The Farmer’s Almanac has predicted winter 2018-19 could be a bad one, though that outlook is squarely at odds with what meteorologists are projecting.
A few La Salle County farmers acknowledged the Almanac’s dire forecast and say they take it with a grain of winter road salt. On the other hand, they regard reports of a mild El Niño winter with equal skepticism.
“The Farmer’s Almanac is fun to read,” La Salle County Farm Bureau president David Isermann said with a chuckle. “But they keep saying we’ll have El Niño, and indications are it’s very slowing developing. They thought it’d be here by now and it’s not. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Darren Walter farms in Grand Ridge and he, too, is wary of both outlooks. The Almanac isn’t trustworthy, but the law of averages gives him a sense this year’s hot, dry summer could yield to a cold, wet winter.
“There are people who still adhere to the Farmer’s Almanac — I’m not necessarily one of them — but Mother Nature has a way of evening things out,” Walter observed.
Jim Angel, the Illinois state climatologist, has found himself add odds with the Farmer’s Almanac — well, one of them, anyway. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a “biting cold, snowy” winter while the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts a “warm, wet” winter for Illinois.
“It turns out that the Old Farmer’s Almanac is at least partially correct in identifying a possible factor for this winter’s El Niño,” Angel wrote. “Right now the National Weather Service predicts a 70 percent chance that an El Niño will arrive by this winter.”
That could indeed portend a warm, wet winter; but Angel was quick to allow there remains a question of how strong El Niño will be. The current forecasts suggest a weak to moderate event, and therefore less likely to have a strong impact on the weather.
“Frankly,” he said, “a strong El Niño winter in Illinois is kind of boring: Cold, but rarely below zero; snow, but rarely large amounts; lots of days with highs in the 40s and 50s; and lots of cloudy days.”
So who’s right? The National Weather Service isn’t sure. Ben Deubelbeiss, a meteorologist in Romeoville, said a full winter projection won’t be in hand until Oct. 18. So far, however, forecasters expect an above-average chance it will be warmer than normal through Dec. 31.
Deubelbeiss emphasized that doesn’t mean residents should bet against snow and cold. “Warmer than usual” in no way precludes a bitterly cold blast or getting pounded with snow.
“We don’t know how it’s going to play out,” he said.
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