Author Archives: WeatherGuys Editor

Is there a “State Tournament Snowstorm” legacy?

A persistent anecdotal piece of weather lore around Madison is that the WIAA’s boys state basketball tournament is always accompanied by a snowstorm.

With the help of Edward Hopkins at the State Climatologist’s Office, we looked into this perception with cold, hard data. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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Is carbon dioxide a major contributor to global warming?

The Earth’s atmosphere is a mixture of many different gases. Several of these gases are known as “greenhouse gases” because they share the characteristic of being excellent absorbers of infra-red radiation.

Such gases absorb radiation emitted by the Earth that would otherwise escape to space and cool the planet. Upon being absorbed, these gases re-emit a fraction of that energy back downward to the surface, keeping the planet warmer than it would otherwise be. In fact, our Earth would have an average temperature of about zero without these greenhouse gases. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology

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What was Madison’s coldest day?

Today is the 66th anniversary of the coldest day in Madison’s history.

On Jan. 30, 1951, the temperature in the city reached a morning low of minus 37 degrees. That is far below any temperature we have experienced in the city in the last 25 or more years. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Severe Weather

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Why does the morning low temperature sometimes occur after sunrise?

Those who keep a particularly vigilant eye on the weather might have noticed that on certain mornings, in all seasons, the lowest temperature is often recorded just after sunrise.

One of us had a morning paper route as a boy and was puzzled for years about this seemingly counterintuitive phenomena. How could the temperature continue to fall for the few minutes after sunrise on a cold winter morning? Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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Is human activity impacting global climate?

The observational evidence that our Earth is warming is overwhelming and unmistakable. Earth scientists agree that in the past 200-plus years, human activity has been a significant contributing factor to the observed increase in mean global temperatures. Scientists cannot explain this increasing temperature trend without incorporating human impacts, primarily the burning fossil fuels.

Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist, was probably the first scientist to propose that burning fossil fuels could modify our global temperatures. He recognized that carbon dioxide (CO2), a byproduct of burning carbon-based substances such as natural gas, gasoline and oil, is like a greenhouse gas and that increasing the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere through human activities could lead to a warmer Earth. He made this estimate in 1896. So, we have been aware of the fundamental physics of global warming for over 100 years. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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