Temperatures warmed into the upper 50s and low 60s area wide Tuesday afternoon. Winds were rather strong from the northwest, gusting at times to 35-40 mph. Wind speeds will ease some during the night, but we’ll maintain a northwest breeze around 15-20 mph through Wednesday afternoon. Despite the wind direction, temperatures will warm into the low to mid 60s for northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

The warming trend will continue through the end of the week, weekend, and possibly into next week as a ridge of high pressure builds across the Midwest and Great Lakes. There are, though, some chances for rain – and possibly thunderstorms – depending on where exactly the ridge sets up.

Northwest winds on Wednesday will turn to the southwest Thursday bringing highs into the low 70s during the afternoon. A weak disturbance moving across southern and central Illinois Friday could bring us a few more clouds during the afternoon. This gives us a small chance for showers during the afternoon, along with mostly cloudy skies. Temperatures may not quite reach the 70-degree mark as a result.

Highs will continue to warm through the weekend, possibly reaching the upper 70s by Sunday. There are a couple things we are watching, though, in the jet stream pattern that could bring an increased chance for some showers and thunderstorms for the start of next week.

The strong cold core low-pressure system that has been in place over the Great Lakes for the last several days will begin to break down, shifting east as a result. Part of that trough will actually retrograde back west, merging with another low (trough) off the west coast. This will help push the jet stream to the north downstream, causing a ridge of high pressure to move in across the Plains and Midwest.

Southwest winds will occur Thursday warming temperatures into the low 70s. The warmth will continue through the weekend, although may be tempered a little by cloud cover and a few rain showers Friday. Highs through the weekend will warm into the low to mid 70s, with the warmth lasting through early next week.

There does remain a chance that we could see some shower/storm activity Sunday and Monday. If we do, that could have an impact on our temperatures during that time. But the longer-range outlook suggests a higher probability for above average temperatures through the middle of the month.