Category Archives: Meteorology

How does the recent humidity stack up against prior Mays?

The dramatic shift in our weather that took place over the last week will likely be memorable for a number of reasons.

First, on Tuesday Madison reached 90 degrees for the first time this year, the fourth earliest first 90-degree day in Madison’s history. Continue reading

Category: History, Meteorology, Seasons

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Was April colder and gloomier than normal this year?

The recent month of April here in Madison was noteworthy on a number of levels.

First of all, we had snow on seven different days during the month, not quite the record of 13 from April 1950, but substantially above the average of about four days over the last 70-plus years. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Why is May 6 such a special day in weather science history?

Immediately after World War II, it became fashionable to imagine technologies that might allow human beings to control the weather.

In fact, one goal advanced by influential scientists was actually to explode nuclear bombs in the right locations and in the right quantity so as to alter the weather in favorable ways. Such an enterprise would require accurate forecasts of the weather thought possible by using the brand new computer technology to make the millions of requisite calculations. Continue reading

Category: History, Meteorology

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How do radars see tornadoes?

A weather radar consists of a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter emits pulses of radio waves outward in a circular pattern. Precipitation scatters these radio waves.

“Reflectivity” is the amount of transmitted power returned to the radar and measured by its receiver. The intensity of this received signal indicates the intensity of the precipitation.
Measuring the time it takes for the radio wave to leave the radar and return tells us how far away the storm is. The direction the radar is pointing locates the storm. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather

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More April snow?

The snow showers that visited our area on Thursday afternoon represented the fourth time snow had been in the air in Madison this month of April.

These showers were associated with the development and passage of a strong and sprawling cyclone that brought blizzard conditions to a number of locations in North Dakota and Montana from Tuesday night into Thursday. The town on Glenburn, North Dakota, received 30.5 inches of snow as of Thursday morning, with 30 to 36 inches variously reported around Minot. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Severe Weather

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