A flash drought and waterspouts

The cold front that came through yesterday brings a change in the weather.  The light  has a  sharpness and clarity.  The dog-day cicadas are  momentarily silent, so strange not to hear their continuous buzz of  late-summer heat.  It feels almost  autumnal,  today.

In the Chicagoland Section, The Chicago Tribune reports on the  lack of rain–climatologists are calling it a flash drought.  After a cool, wet spring, Illinois and the Chicago area have been dryer than normal since July.

The past  few weeks have also been hotter than normal, compounding the drying effect.

The brown grass and many yellow leaves are the most visible signs, but some trees have not fully recovered from the 2012 drought . Young trees are especially vulnerable. Some municipalities are even asking residents to assist in watering the parkway trees.

Will the late-summer heat and  dry spell also  have an effect on fall foliage?  For more about fall colors, see  this post.

The lack of rain is also affecting the growing season. The later spring planting due to cool, wet conditions and the current dry spell have delayed the maturity of the corn crop this year.

Thursday afternoon did bring some  lake-effect precipitation, in the form of waterspouts. As reported in the Sun-Times, two were spotted  over Lake Michigan, near Kenosha, Wisconsin. They lasted about 15 minutes. Tornado sirens went off, and  marine warnings were issued along the lakeshore from Kenosha to Cook County.  Fortunately, there was no damage or injury.

Waterspouts can be very hazardous to boaters. They can form quite suddenly, especially this time of year, as cooler air moves over warmer lake waters.

Weather.com defines Waterspout as –“A small, weak tornado, which is not formed by a storm-scale rotation. It is generally weaker than  supercell tornado and is not associated with a wall cloud or mesocyclone. It may be observed beneath cumulonimbus or towering cumulus clouds.”

Essentially, waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.  The water seen in the funnel cloud is not from the lake, though; it’s water droplets from condensation.  Could we call that  rain?




Filed under: seasons, weather

Tags: flash drought, waterpout

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