Top Weather Events of 2006
For north central and northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana
By Jim Allsopp Warning Coordination Meteorologist
January 20-21 Winter Storm
A band of heavy snow fell across DeKalb, Kane, southeast McHenry, northwest Cook and Lake Counties in northern Illinois from late afternoon Friday January 20 through early Saturday morning the 21st. Some of the heaviest snowfall totals were 12.0 inches at Elgin, 11.7 at Grayslake, 11.5 at Shabbona, and 11.0 at Barrington. Snow tapered off north and south of this area. Only 4.7 inches fell at O’Hare and 5.0 inches at Rockford.
February 18 Extreme Cold
February 18 was the coldest day of 2006. An arctic air mass accompanied by strong winds blasted the area. O’Hare had a low of 7 below zero and a high of 8 above, and Rockford had a low of 11 below and a high of only 3 above. Wind chills were as low as -30 to -35. A couple days before the arctic air hit, temperatures were in the 50s and heavy rain and a few thunderstorms occurred.
March 12 Severe Storms
An early season severe weather outbreak hit the Midwest. Severe storms affected areas from the southern plains through the Great Lakes. One supercell formed in eastern Kansas in the afternoon, traversed all of Missouri, and Illinois before dissipating in northern Indiana that evening. The storm clipped Ford and Iroquois Counties with downburst winds and a weak tornado. The storm also produced tornadoes in Springfield. Another storm produced an intense microburst in Bridgeview, which unroofed an apartment building and damaged garages and trees. There were many reports of hail to up to the size of golf balls, especially across LaSalle, Grundy, and Will counties.
March 31 High Winds
Winds gusted as high as 60 to 65 mph across the Chicago area and Gary Indiana. A small boy was injured by a falling tree branch in Chicago. A building façade fell onto Irving Park Road and a pedestrian was injured by flying debris. A car wash was partially unroofed, injuring another person. A roof was also damaged at a recreational center in south suburban Thornton. The City of Chicago reported 107 calls about tree damage. A billboard was blown down in west suburban Addison. Peak wind gusts included 67 mph at Gary, and 60 mph at Lansing.
April 13-14 Big Hail, Small Twisters
Supercells produced the biggest hail of the season over parts of northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. Hail was up to baseball size in Dixon, golf ball and bigger in Rockford, tennis balls in Milford (Iroquois County), and golf balls at Boswell and Remington Indiana. There were also several funnel cloud reports. Brief, weak F0 tornadoes occurred near Ambia in Benton County, Indiana, and near Grand Ridge in LaSalle County.
July 15-17 and July 28-August 2 Heat Waves
A heat wave developed in mid July. Highs were in middle 90s for three straight days. The highest temperature at O’Hare was 97 on the 15th. The Heat Index peaked at 108 at O’Hare and 117 at Northerly Island in Chicago on the 17th. Overnight low temperatures were in the middle to upper 70s during the period. There were 9 heat related deaths in Cook County. Later in the month, the area sustained 6 straight days in the 90s. The highest temperature at O’Hare was 99 on July 31st and again on August 1. The Heat Index peaked at 107 at O’Hare on the 31st and 1st. There were 28 heat related deaths in Cook County from the late July-early August heat wave.
August 23 Downburst near Michigan City
A supercell thunderstorm formed over southern Lake Michigan. Waterspouts were witnessed by pilots over the Lake. The powerful storm hit Michigan City and Town of Pines with winds 80 to 110 mph, downing many trees and limbs. One tree fell on a trailer, other trees and limbs fell on cars and roofs. A wind gust to 106 mph was recorded at Michigan City.
September 4 Labor Day Flash Flood in Rockford
A slow moving low pressure system triggered scattered thunderstorms across eastern Iowa, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois during the afternoon of September 4. A series of slow moving storms moved into and sat over the east side of Rockford. As much as 5 to 10 inches of rain fell in a localized area, while less than three quarters of an inch fell nearby at the airport. The heavy rain produced severe flooding of Keith Creek in the late afternoon and early evening. Hundreds of basements were flooded and fifteen homes were left uninhabitable. Streets and parking lots were flooded and cars were submerged in water. Damage was estimated at about 20 million dollars.
September 13 Highland, Indiana Flash Flood
Heavy rain fell over northwest Indiana during the morning hours of September 13, which caused severe flooding in Highland and East Chicago. As much as 4 to 8 inches of rain fell in a couple hours. At one point 90 percent of the streets in Highland were flooded and 70 percent of the homes were affected. Fourteen homes were condemned due to flooding. Total damage was about 8 million dollars.
September 22 Supercells - Tornado at Loyola, Near Miss at O’Hare
A series of strongly rotating supercell thunderstorms developed and moved across parts of DeKalb, Kane, DuPage, and Cook Counties. A well developed funnel cloud was observed near Waterman in DeKalb County and wind damage occurred to power poles, trees, crops and outbuildings. A tornado occurred briefly at Loyola University on the north side of Chicago before moving out over Lake Michigan as a waterspout. One of the supercells produced a well formed “hook” over O’Hare Airport near I-90 and I-294 at the peak of rush hour. The hook echo is a classic tornado signature sometimes seen on radar. Fortunately no tornado occurred.
October 2 Severe Storm Outbreak
Unseasonably warm and humid air moved into the region. Some locations in downstate Illinois had record highs in the 90s. Severe storms broke out in the afternoon producing heavy rain across Kendall and Will Counties, and large hail at many locations. Storms redeveloped in the evening with more heavy rain and flooding in parts of the Chicago metro area. A total of 4 to 5 inches of rain fell in some areas. A squall line moved north to south across the Chicago metro area producing widespread wind damage. The hardest hit areas were Hickory Hills, Bridgeview, and Palos Hills in southern Cook County. A large section of a gymnasium roof was blown off a junior high school. Debris fell on a van injuring two passengers. Warehouse buildings had walls blown out in an industrial complex.
November 30-December 1 Snow and Ice Storm
After four straight days in the 60s, late November turned sharply colder as a cold front slipped east across northern Illinois before stalling out in Indiana. A strong low pressure system rode up the stationary front Thursday night November 30 and Friday morning December 1. The storm brought a mix of freezing rain and sleet to parts of central and northern Illinois which eventually changed to snow. Snow became heavy with lightning and thunder in the early morning hours. The heaviest snow fell in a corridor from LaSalle-Peru north to Rockford and the north suburbs of Chicago. Some snowfall totals included 17.3 inches at Peru, 14 inches at Rockford, 13.5 inches at Dixon and Rochelle, and around a foot at DeKalb, Palatine, Woodstock, and Beach Park.
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