Category Archives: Meteorology

How will a warmer planet affect the severity of mid-latitude storms?

In previous columns we have discussed how the phase change of the water substance from invisible, gaseous water vapor into liquid water (through condensation) or into solid ice (through freezing) releases latent heat into the surrounding environment.

This heat can change many aspects of the nature of the mid-latitude storms in which the phase change is occurring. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Severe Weather

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What is the hydrologic cycle?

The hydrologic cycle describes the circulation of water from the ocean and other watery surfaces to the atmosphere and to the land.

A major source of atmospheric water vapor is evaporation from the oceans. Precipitation — rain, snow, sleet or freezing rain — falls from clouds and is a loss of atmospheric water as it removes water from the atmosphere. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology

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How does weather impact forest fires?

Fires require fuel to burn, heat to ignite and oxygen to feed the chemical reaction. Weather plays a key role in all of these requirements to start and spread a forest fire. Weather and climate are important in making fuel … Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Weather Dangers

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When can it get really hot in southern Wisconsin?

Our cold early April seems to have finally given way to a surging spring. Now that we have seemingly emerged from winter, with reasonable confidence that we will not go back, it is interesting to consider when truly summerlike weather might first appear in southern Wisconsin.

One measure of summer here is a daytime high temperature at or above 90 degrees. In Madison, there have been only three April days when the high temperature was that warm. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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What connection does UW-Madison have with the National Weather Service?

Last week, the director of the National Weather Service (NWS), Louis W. Uccellini, visited his alma mater as the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award winner.

Uccellini presented the story of the intellectual and professional journey that led him to the leadership of this extraordinarily important government agency. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology

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