Category Archives: Climate

How unusual is our roller coaster winter?

It doesn’t take an exceptional attention span to realize that this year’s cold season (starting in November) has been very changeable.

November was 6.1 degrees colder than normal, then December was surprisingly mild (5.8 degrees above normal). As of Thursday — mid-month — January has been 8.5 degrees below normal. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Are the Great Lakes’ water levels normal?

For the first time in about 25 years, the water level of the all the Great Lakes is above normal. Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron are about 5 inches above the long term average.

This ends a 15-year period where lake levels have been below historic averages. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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What kind of winter are we expecting?

Seasonal climate forecasts rely heavily on established relationships between climate and key climate forcing mechanisms, such as El Niño.

On seasonal time scales, the influence on the atmosphere of ocean temperature anomalies such as El Niño or La Niña is probably the single most crucial forecast component. This is especially true for forecasts of Wisconsin winters. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Did we have an Indian summer this year?

We are not sure of the origin of this expression, but it has been used for over 200 years in reference to a weather phenomenon that occurs in the fall, usually in October for our state. It occurs when the autumn weather is characterized as sunny and warm.

Indian summer can occur only after the first frost but before the first snowfall. It occurs after the leaves have turned color and includes dry weather conditions with maximum temperatures greater than 65 degrees and minimum temperatures greater than 33 degrees. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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Is human activity to blame for climate change?

A recent debate between candidates for Congress in the Wisconsin’s 1st District — U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, and Democratic challenger Rob Zerban — included questions about the role of human beings in producing discernible changes in the climate over the last 150 years.

Unfortunately, this question, which is a matter of evidence, analysis and conclusion as all scientific questions are, has become a source of partisan political divide. Continue reading

Category: Climate

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