Category Archives: History

Do hurricanes affect Wisconsin?

A tropical cyclone is a rotating low-pressure system that has organized thunderstorms but no fronts. When a tropical cyclone’s maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it is called a hurricane. Hurricanes have never directly impacted the Upper Midwest region of the U.S.; however, the remnants of a hurricane or tropical storm have impacted the weather in the Midwest, including Wisconsin.

If a hurricane is particularly strong at landfall, it can move far enough northward to cause a significant rain event for areas in the Midwest. For the most part, such storms originally make landfall in Texas, Louisiana or Mississippi. These storms can be tracked by satellites or surface weather observations because they maintain an identifiable circulation pattern along their entire path. Continue reading

Category: History, Meteorology, Severe Weather, Tropical

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Can ChatGPT forecast the weather?

Yes, ChatGPT can create weather forecasts, but the real question will be their accuracy.

People have started exploring how to use ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence methods to experiment with forecasts. This is not surprising as we have always needed weather forecasts and humans have used many techniques over the decades. Some of the earliest forms of forecasts were short rhymes, and, although memorable, were often of uneven quality. Continue reading

Category: History, Meteorology

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Were May and June unusually dry in Madison?

While we all contended with the remarkable and dangerous smoke in the sky this past week, we also wrapped up a record dry spell in Madison’s history.

The 61 days of May and June 2023 were the driest May and June ever, with a paltry 2.01 inches of total precipitation falling. The next closest rival on this ignominious list occurred in May and June 1992, when only 2.65 inches of rain fell during the two months. Individually, May and June were the sixth-driest May and June in Madison’s history, suggesting how rare it is for both of them to be so void of precipitation. Continue reading

Category: Climate, History, Meteorology, Seasons

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When does the winter cold end?

It has now been more than two weeks since our last below-zero morning here in Madison — Feb. 3 was minus 8 degrees. Thus, a natural question might be this: Are we done with bitter cold for the winter?

If we use an overnight low temperature at or below zero as the metric, then 45 of the 83 winters since 1939-40 have seen a cold spell after Feb. 20 — a surprising 54.2% of the time. In fact, in 1982, the last zero degree (or colder) night was not until April 7, the latest date in the last 83 years. Continue reading

Category: History, Seasons

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How unusual was the past weekend’s fantastic weather?

It is a fair bet that we would get near universal agreement that this October has been pretty spectacular here in southern Wisconsin. Through the 29th, the average temperature has been exactly normal, and we have had only 11 days … Continue reading

Category: History, Seasons

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