Author Archives: WeatherGuys Editor

What is a derecho?

A derecho (pronounced deh-RAY-cho, a Spanish word meaning “straight ahead”) is an hours-long windstorm associated with a line of severe thunderstorms.

It is a result of straight-line winds, not the rotary winds of a tornado — hence its name. Derechos in the United States are most common in the late spring and summer (May through August). Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather

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Why withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord?

President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord last Thursday is a disheartening blow to the longstanding idea that sound science should play a role in the formation of public policy in our country.

This notion, in fact, was central to the creation of the National Academy of Sciences by the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Lincoln and the Congress charged the Academy with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Uncategorized

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Is the weather nicer on Memorial Day or Labor Day?

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. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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Did someone predict the recent Wisconsin tornado?

We cannot yet forecast tornado occurrence with any accuracy. One problem is the small size of a tornado, which is a narrow column of strong winds that rotate around a center of low pressure.

Over the last 60 years, forecasts of the development of large-scale low-pressure systems, which often organize the ingredients needed to form a tornado, have steadily improved. Because of these advances, meteorologists are better able to predict those conditions a few days in advance, enabling forecasters to identify counties where there is a threat of severe weather sometimes as many as three days in advance. Two days in advance of the recent EF-2 tornado that hit southeastern Polk County, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center’s convective outlook issued a slight-risk for the area. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather

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Is the weather in Madison more extreme than other locations in the U.S.?

Sitting nearly in the middle of the vast North American continent, Madison has what is known as a continental climate. Continental climates are characterized by large annual extremes in temperature and humidity as well as very distinct seasons.

The continental nature of Madison’s climate is what makes a year’s worth of weather in Madison usually a lot more varied than a year’s worth in, say, Seattle. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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