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WTVO's Candice King, who is about eight months pregnant, responds to a viewer who suggests she should be "ashamed" of how she looks on TV.
"We do get supercell thunderstorms, but they're not very frequent because we get such high humidity," said Candice King, chief meteorologist at WTVO TV in Rockford.
"They are more prone to the Plains." However, on April 9, 2015, a supercell thunderstorm tore through northern Illinois. "What's really impressive is six tornadoes came from one supercell thunderstorm," said King during an educational session at the Northern Illinois Farm Show. The April tornado, which started near Franklin Grove, King said, was on the ground for more than 30 miles. "A lot of times with larger tornadoes, you get satellite tornadoes where you have a main tornado and little vortexes spin around it," she explained. "This tornado produced two satellite tornadoes." King showed a photo from a satellite of the path of the Illinois tornado. "It didn't just travel in a straight line," she said. Two Deaths In addition to lots of property damage, this tornado also resulted in two fatalities and 22 people were injured. "From a meteorologist standpoint, you never want to hear of injuries, let alone fatalities," King said. "But no matter what you do, when you have tornadoes of this strength, sometimes injuries are going to happen even when people take every precaution." Northern Illinois was in a prime spot for a tornado on that April day. "Everything that went up that afternoon spun," King recalled. "In my career of meteorology, I don't ever want to go through something like that again." Four days prior to the April storm, the storm prediction center highlighted northern Illinois as an area that might experience severe weather based on forecast models. "The reason these thunderstorms had spin was because there was a lot of wind shear," King explained. "One of the signatures we look for is if the supercell is trying to form a hook," she said. "Everything that spins doesn't produce a tornado. From 5 to 10 percent of supercell thunderstorms produce a tornado." On April 9, there was quite a temperature difference for Chicago, where it was about 70 degrees, to Milwaukee that only was in the upper 40s. "That's almost a 30-degree temperature difference from north of the front to the south of the front," King noted. "As the thunderstorms started to develop they crossed over the boundary of the warm front and were riding along it," she said. "And because there was spin already going on in the atmosphere that helped the thunderstorm to rotate." Since the tornado followed along the boundary, it was able to sustain its rotation. "At times this wedge tornado was estimated to be from one-half to one-mile wide," King reported. Although the tornado did occur during the peak tornado season in Illinois from April to June, she said, tornadoes can form during other times of the year. "If we get the right conditions, we may only need a temperature in the mid-60s and a dew point at 50 degrees to have a tornado during the off severe weather season," she said. King stressed the importance of being prepared during thunderstorms. "Don't let your guard down," she warned. "With meteorology, we're not going to be able to pinpoint specifically where a tornado is going to touch down or a thunderstorm is going to form," she said.
I asked Candice King, Chief Meteorologist at WTVO-TV, whether there's enough education when it comes to severe weather.
Presenters: Candice King, Chief Meteorologist with WTVO
Candice King, Chief Meteorologist with WTVO TV in Rockford will discuss how severe weather has impacted Northern Illinois. Candice will focus on the Fairdale tornado that affected Lee, Ogle, DeKalb and Boone Counties in the spring of 2015.
Candice King talks about how she develops a forecast as the chief meteorologist at WTVO-TV in Rockford, Ill. During a presentation at the Northern Illinois Farm Show, King told farmers that weather across the globe is connected and part of the reason there were lower temperatures in November was because the area was affected by what was left of a super typhoon in Japan.
Candice King talks about how she develops a forecast as the chief meteorologist at WTVO-TV in Rockford, Ill. During a presentation at the Northern Illinois Farm Show, King told farmers that weather across the globe is connected and part of the reason there were lower temperatures in November was because the area was affected by what was left of a super typhoon in Japan. DEKALB, Ill. - Polar vortex was a term often used by meteorologists during weather reports last winter. "The polar vortex has always been there. It is nothing new," said Candice King, chief meteorologist at WTVO-TV in Rockford. "It's a large-scale cyclone or another term for a low-pressure system at either the north or south pole." A polar vortex doesn't move, King said. "But pieces of it break off and come down here on the jet stream or the interstate for weather," she added during a presentation at the Northern Illinois Farm Show. This pattern was persistent last winter because there was a blocking pattern. "There was a big ridge of high pressure that built up into Alaska and pushed warm air up into that area," King explained. "There was a lot of snow last winter, it was the ninth snowiest with 46.5 inches," King reported. "Our snowiest winter was in 2007-'08 when 65.1 inches of snow fell." For all of 2014, King said, it was the eighth coldest year on record since 1906, with an average temperature of 46 degrees. "For November 2014 the temperature was seven degrees below average, but in December the average temperature was five degrees above average," she noted. "July typically should be one of the hottest months of the year, but it was the third coldest on record in 2014, and we had very few 90-degreee days." According to data compiled by the Illinois State Water Survey from 1895 to 2014, King said, the overall temperature trend for Illinois is on a general upward trend. "However, for 2014, the average temperature for Illinois was 49.4 degrees which is 2.9 degrees below average," she reported. "That ties 1912 and 1979 for the fourth coldest year." Although it was cool in Illinois, King said, out west it was warm and dry. "When you look at global temperatures, only this part of the U.S. was cold," she added. It is important to remember that weather across the globe is connected, King stressed. "A perfect example is what happened in November when we were seven degrees below average because we were affected by what was left of a super typhoon in Japan," she explained. "The aftermath of that typhoon moved into Alaska, pushed the jet stream up to Alaska and dislodged the cold air," she said. As of Jan. 7, 46 percent of the U.S. was covered in snow. "We had 3.5 inches of snow in November, but only one-tenth of an inch of snow in December, and on average we should get 11 inches of snow in December," King said. "That was the fifth least snowiest December on record for Rockford." Forecast Basics To develop a forecast, King said she looks at several levels of the atmosphere. "Everything has a relationship, so I start at the top and work my way down to the surface," she explained. "One of the first things I do in the morning is look at current observations like the cloud cover and water vapor imagery," she said. "I watch the water vapor loop, which is like an X-ray of the middle of the atmosphere," she said. "It gives me an idea of where there's dry air coming in and where moisture is coming in." The next step is to look at the analysis of the atmosphere at 30,000 feet. King considers a variety of information such as low-pressure systems, high-pressure systems, wind speeds and jet stream patterns. "Jet streams are important to look at to get an idea of the potential of how strong severe weather may be," she explained. One example is when the tornado hit Washington, Ill., in November 2013. "Three or four days before that we had a powerful jet stream coming down, and I remember saying that this was an area we've got to watch," King recalled. To gather data for weather forecasts, balloons are launched by the National Weather Service. "The closest one to us is launched at the Quad Cities," King said. "When you get drastic temperature changes, that creates a lot of instability," King said. "That's when you get cold air funnels." King also examines the information at both 10,000 and 5,000 feet, as well as at the surface. "There can be a low-level jet at 5,000 feet, and that's a concentrated area of stronger winds," she explained. "When you get that, there can be enhanced thunderstorms or winter storms by pulling in more moisture or warmth." Meteorologists also may look at several other patterns to develop forecasts such as the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Artic Oscillation, El Niño, La Niña, North Pacific Blocking Pattern or the Eastern Pacific Blocking Pattern. "These are all factors on a larger scale that can impact weather," King said.