Archive for September, 2009

Lightning Detector

Monday, September 28th, 2009

StormTracker antenna

I’ve recently installed a new Boltek StormTracker lightning detector and added the data to the web site. The detector consists of a small antenna that resides in the attic and picks up radio signals produced by lightning similar to static heard on an AM radio.¬† This data is then sent to a PCI card and software running on the PC. It is important to note that accurate detection and ranging is only accomplished through triangulation of data from various detectors as is done by the much more sophisticated (and expensive) national lightning networks. The software does allow for range corrections and I hope to make adjustments over time. It can take several months to fine tune a system and even then there is no guarantee of 100 percent accuracy. Nevertheless, I hope you find it interesting.

Disclaimer: StormTracker lightning data is only approximate and should not be used for safety applications. Strike and storm locations indicated and alarm statuses may be erroneous and should not be used to safeguard personnel, equipment or data.

Learn more about lightning safety at the NOAA/NWS Lightning Safety web page.

Cold Front Expected Sunday

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Cold front

A strong cold front is expected to sweep through northern Illinois Sunday evening ushering in cooler air and strong winds. Some showers or thunderstorms are possible as the front moves through but the most significant change will be the strong northwest winds and cooler air for early next week. On the plus side, drier air is expected that should eliminate the pesky fog we’ve been experiencing for the last week. For those birders out there, this northerly push of air is likely to bring a large wave of migrating fall warblers and other species as they head to their wintering grounds in Mexico as well as Central and South America.

CoCoRaHS Training Session Sep 24 in Ottawa, IL

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

CoCoRaHS is looking for additional observers in Grundy, La Salle, and surrounding counties. Attend a training session to learn more. The next session will be:

Thursday, September 24, 6:30 p.m.- Ottawa (LaSalle County)

University of Illinois Extension
LaSalle County Unit
1689 N. 31st Road, Suite 2
Ottawa, IL 61350

Registration is recommended. To register, call (815) 433-0707, or email

Map to LaSalle County Extension Office

Open House at National Weather Service Chicago Office in Romeoville IL

Friday, September 18th, 2009
The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Romeoville will hold an open house on Saturday October 3, 2009 from 900 a.m. until 300 p.m.
At the open house visitors will see and learn about:
  • NWS surface and upper air weather observations
  • Volunteer weather observing¬†including the Coop program, CoCoRaHS, and the Chicago-Rockford Area Snowfall Teams
  • The NOAA and NWS organization, the Chicago Weather Forecast Office area of responsibility, and programs
  • An overview of NWS web pages and NOAA Weather Radio
  • Displays of satellite, Doppler radar, and weather maps
  • Forecast operations and the warning decision process
  • A look at the Doppler radar data acquisition building (sorry, visitors are not permitted inside the radar dome)
  • An overview of computer systems and communications
  • Hazards of flooding with an interactive floodplain model demonstration
  • How river levels and flows are measured by the U.S. Geological Survey(USGS)
  • Amateur radio operations for severe weather
  • Will County Emergency Management Agency incident command vehicle on display

Learn more and get directions here.

Dry Spell Continues

Monday, September 14th, 2009

After a very wet spring and summer, conditions have become quite dry. Total rainfall for September as of this writing is only 0.01 inch…barely more than a trace. A stagnant high pressure system is responsible for our dry, but otherwise very pleasant, weather conditions.¬† The weather pattern is not expected to change for the remainder of the week.