Monthly Archives: May 2015
A Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of the summer while Labor Day marks the end. People are bound to have their own recollections and opinions about which weekend more reliably delivers agreeable weather here in southern Wisconsin and those opinions can be colored by many non-meteorological influences.
If forced to opine on this question while sticking to strictly meteorological factors, we would suggest that Labor Day weekend’s weather is more reliably summerlike. The reason for this comes directly from the fact that Memorial Day comes as winter is ending and Labor Day as winter approaches. Continue reading
What is brontology? Brontology is the scientific study of thunder. All thunder results from lightning. A bolt of lightning rapidly heats the air around it, which causes the air to quickly expand and generate a sound wave we call thunder. … Continue reading
How do we gain knowledge about the atmosphere? It is easy to assume that current, well-accepted scientific knowledge about anything was originally discovered by the grace of inspired geniuses armed with vastly superior intelligence than the average thinking person. In … Continue reading
There are spring and summer afternoons when very thin clouds appear overhead and turn the sky a bit white. These types of skies are physically interesting in at least two ways that are worthy of note.
First, the whiteness is a function of the fact that the cloud cover is a thin cirrus cloud. Cirrus clouds are composed of tiny ice crystals that scatter visible light without preference for any of the colors of the visible spectrum (the colors of the rainbow). This particular property is shared by snowflakes as well as by haze droplets. Individual snowflakes look clear but even a small collection of them is white since all of the light that hits the collection of snowflakes is scattered in all directions equally. The same is true of haze droplets which are most common in the summertime in southern Wisconsin. Continue reading