Author Archives: WeatherGuys Editor

What is the status of Antarctica’s ice sheets?

Most of Antarctica is covered by ice.

The ice sheet is over 2 miles thick in places and in some places the ice sheet bottom is almost a mile below sea level. This massive ice covers mountain ranges, and volcanoes exist underneath the sheets. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Can weather in the stratosphere affect us near the ground?

Thus far the winter has been relatively mild around the Northern Hemisphere. This December was the 14th-warmest December, and the period from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 was the eighth-warmest since 1948.

Such a prolonged delay to the onset of winter makes one wonder if it will ever arrive this year. Though there is no clear way to be sure about the answer to that question, one potential phenomenon that can encourage a winter-like cold air outbreak is a sudden warming of the lower stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere between 6 and 20 miles above the surface. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Seasons

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What were the top weather events for 2018?

The year began with frigid temperatures across Wisconsin. The average temperatures for the first seven days of January were well below normal across southern Wisconsin with most areas at least 15 degrees below normal.

The end of 2018 saw temperatures several degrees warmer than normal, including a record high temperature of 50 F on Dec. 27, tying a record high for the date, last set in 2003, and previously set in 1936 and 1946. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Will there be a White Christmas in Madison this year?

In testimony to the infectious appeal of the famous scenes memorialized by Nathaniel Currier and James Ives, prolific lithographers of the middle 19th century, there is an enduring obsession with snow at Christmastime.

A so-called White Christmas is officially observed anytime there is 1 inch of snow on the ground on Christmas morning, whether or not it is snowing at the time. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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How are clouds named?

In 1803, British pharmacist and chemist Luke Howard devised a classification system for clouds. It has proved so successful that meteorologists have used Howard’s system ever since, with minor modifications.

According to his system, clouds are given Latin names corresponding to their appearance — layered or convective— and their altitude. Clouds are also categorized based on whether they are precipitating. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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