Category Archives: History

Why do we have a new normal in weather?

The National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration’s National Climatic Data Center (or NCDC) calculates the average weather conditions over a 30-year period for more than 7,500 locations in the United States.

A reliable estimate of an average requires at least 30 years. These 30-year averages are referred to as the U.S. Climate Normal. They provide a baseline that allows everyone to compare a location’s current weather to the average weather that location would expect to see — whether a particular day’s temperature is cooler or warmer than normal, or if a particular month is wetter than normal. Continue reading

Category: Climate, History

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Can space dust affect our atmosphere?

Space contains tons of dust. When dust particles approach Earth, they can be captured by gravity and enter the atmosphere at very high speeds.

Particles with diameters larger than about 2 millimeters undergo very rapid heating through collisions in our atmosphere. As they heat up, they can produce a short-lived trail of light known as “shooting star.” Most dust particles entering the atmosphere are estimated to be much smaller than this and don’t provide a visible trail. Continue reading

Category: History, Meteorology, Phenomena

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Are April showers likely to be snow?

After a benevolent first week of April, we have really been brought back to reality as temperatures in Madison have been increasingly chillier since the monthly high of 79 was recorded on April 6.

April 14 was particularly chilly, with the high only getting to 40 under persistent clouds. It could be worse, however. Last Friday it snowed over southern New England — with totals as high as 9 inches in southern New Hampshire and widely greater than 2 inches in the northern suburbs of Boston. Continue reading

Category: History, Meteorology, Seasons

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New book from Jonathan Martin of The Weather Guys delves into the origins of modern meteorology

The technology that allows us to know the temperature, humidity and chance of precipitation on an hourly basis is something on which we’ve come to expect and rely. But ever wonder how the technology of predicting the weather came about?

UW-Madison professor Jonathan Martin, one of the writers of the State Journal’s “Ask the Weather Guys” column, answers that question in his new book “Reginald Sutcliffe and the Invention of Modern Weather Systems Science,” which came out March 15. He’ll be discussing the book during a virtual event through Mystery to Me bookstore later this month. Continue reading

Category: History, Meteorology

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What is the weather like on Inauguration Day?

Despite the fact that the presidential inauguration has moved from March 4 to Jan. 20 in the course of our history, on a number of occasions it has been strongly influenced by the weather.

Though many blamed the weather for sparking the fever that led to President William Henry Harrison’s death just 31 days into his term, this was almost certainly not the case. In fact, the noontime temperature on March 4, 1841, was 48 degrees with overcast skies and a stiff wind from the northwest. Continue reading

Category: History

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