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Unseasonable chill grips eastern half of U.S., some warming seen

Oct 1, 2011, 12:24 p.m.

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Cool winds coming out of Canada pushed temperatures lower across much of the eastern United States on Saturday and forecasters said residents in some higher East Coast elevations could see chilly rain turn into snow flurries before the weekend was over.

A warm front in the Midwest, meanwhile, was expected to bring temperatures in that region back to comfortable, early summer-like levels next week before moving into the east, and could give Chicago its first string of days in the 70s in several weeks.

But on Saturday, the Midwest was enduring yet another day of below average temperatures.

In Chicago, where the normal average high this time of year is 68 degrees Fahrenheit, forecasters predicted Saturday temperature would top out in the mid 50s and warned the western suburbs, away from the relatively warm waters of Lake Michigan, might see their first widespread frost of the season.

"We're going to be 10 degrees below the normal high and then well below the normal lows as well," said Ben Deubelbeiss, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chicago.

"Then, as early as Monday, we'll see temperatures rebound -- as a big upper level ridge builds overhead and brings up some warmer air from the southwest."

The high winds that whipped up big waves on the Great Lakes on Friday, shutting down shoreline parks and trails in Wisconsin and Illinois, had largely subsided on Saturday.

Chicago's 18.5 mile lakefront bike and running path, closed on Friday as giant waves smashed onto the shore, was back open -- though gusts coming off the lake continued to churn the waters and make them dangerous for swimming.

Thousands of people were still without power in Wisconsin and Michigan, according to utility companies in both states, as a result of damage caused by Friday's strong winds.

In Door County, Wisconsin, a picturesque peninsula that juts out into northern Lake Michigan and is popular this time of year with tourists seeking fall color, all state parks and trails remained closed as a result of downed trees and unsafe conditions, the state Department of Natural Resources said.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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