Author Archives: WeatherGuys Editor

How is the atmosphere retained above the Earth?

The atmosphere is actually a fluid. Like water, the pressure at the bottom of a deep column of fluid is larger than the pressure near the top of the column.

Fluids move in response to differences in pressure (the pressure gradient force), always flowing from high toward low pressure. In fact, the wind is driven by pressure differences measured in the horizontal directions. Therefore, the air near the ground (at the bottom of the deep atmosphere) is compelled to move upward toward lower pressure above. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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What does the recent cold and snow say about climate change?

It has been quite a week for discussion of global warming.

November has been remarkably cold this year for most of the eastern United States.

In Madison, as just one example, the monthly temperature through Friday has been 6.2 degrees Fahrenheit below normal for the month and, with the prospect of more cold to come, it appears the month will end well below normal. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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What is El Niño and does it affect Wisconsin?

El Niño is a combined atmosphere/ocean circulation anomaly in the tropical Pacific Ocean in which unusually warm surface water extends westward from the coast of Peru into the mid-Pacific. One is predicted to develop this winter, which may impact our winter weather.

The warmer than normal waters support persistent tropical thunderstorms in that same region — where such storms are ordinarily rare. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Seasons

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Can we see satellites at night?

Yes, you can see satellites in particular orbits as they pass overhead at night.

Viewing is best away from city lights and in cloud-free skies. The satellite will look like a star steadily moving across the sky for a few minutes. If the lights are blinking, you probably are seeing a plane, not a satellite. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology

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How accurate was the forecast for Hurricane Michael?

Five days in advance of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, the National Hurricane Center forecast showed the storm making landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, with 80 mph winds, just above Category 1 hurricane force.

As we all know by now, the storm lashed the coast with winds in the 155-mph range, or strong Category 4 intensity. Continue reading

Category: Severe Weather, Tropical, Weather Dangers

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