Category Archives: Meteorology

What is a heat wave?

A heat wave is a period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and usually humid weather. The World Meteorological Organization is specific in its definition by stating that a heat wave is when the daily maximum temperature for more than five consecutive days exceeds the average maximum temperature by 9 degrees.

Heat waves are caused by very hot, stagnant air masses. Regions that suffer under intense hot spells are usually dominated by a surface high-pressure system with a mid-tropospheric ridge aloft. Dew points are also high, and to compound matters, wind speeds are often low. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Weather Dangers

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What forces are in play when high winds knock down objects?

Wind is air moving from areas of high atmospheric pressure to low pressure. Violent destructive winds, as well as gentle summer breezes, result from a complex interplay of different forces.

One of these forces results from a pressure gradient, or how fast pressure changes over distance. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather, Weather Dangers

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Why do thunderstorms scare dogs?

Some dogs seem to have a great fear of thunderstorms, as do some humans.

Their fear can drive them through closed doors or windows, or send them cowering to an isolated spot in the house. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Weather Dangers

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What is the heat index?

The heat index indicates how hot it feels. It is expressed as a function of air temperature and the relative humidity.

The heat index temperature is for standing in the shade; when exposed to direct sunlight, the heat index value can be increased by up to 15 degrees. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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When was the year without a summer?

The summer of 1816 is known as the year without a summer in eastern North America.

While extensive weather observations were not available, people’s journals documented the cold weather. Snow fell on June 5 in Vermont with temperatures in the low 30s, following a day with high temperatures in the upper 80s. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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