Author Archives: WeatherGuys Editor

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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Did the notion of numerical weather prediction turn out as originally expected?

The urgency to defeat fascism in World War II resulted in an explosion of technological innovations. A good number of the resulting inventions have had direct application to weather forecasting, including radar and the rise of the computer.

It isn’t well known that the first efforts to harness this emerging computing power to the problem of weather prediction, launched in the United States and Great Britain, were driven primarily by a desire to control the weather. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather

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Was the whole autumn unusually warm, or just November?

If you thought November was warmer than usual around southern Wisconsin, you were exactly right.

Madison averaged 7.6 degrees above normal for the month, which ranked as the third warmest November on record (since 1870). Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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