Category Archives: Meteorology

How severe has this winter been?

Last year we experienced a persistently cold winter (December-January-February) that ended up being the coldest since 1979.

This year has been different. The Midwest Regional Climate Center is experimenting with what they are calling the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index (AWSSI), which incorporates temperature, snowfall and snow depth to rate the severity of winter. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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How hard do weather forecasters work?

In the wake of a remarkable, but not perfect, forecast of a paralyzing blizzard that affected the Northeast last week, one may wonder how much effort is expended by an individual forecaster.

Since it takes only a minute or two to deliver a forecast on the evening news, it is easy to mistakenly view the process as taking very little effort or care. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather

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Can you explain the difference between black ice and gray ice?

The term ‘black ice’ refers to two conditions: a new layer of ice on water, which appears dark in color because the ice is transparent and so we see the deep water below, or as a layer of clear ice on a roadway, which makes for hazardous driving conditions.

In both cases the ice is not black but transparent, and therefore shows the color of the underlying surface. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Weather Dangers

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How unusual is our roller coaster winter?

It doesn’t take an exceptional attention span to realize that this year’s cold season (starting in November) has been very changeable.

November was 6.1 degrees colder than normal, then December was surprisingly mild (5.8 degrees above normal). As of Thursday — mid-month — January has been 8.5 degrees below normal. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Are the Great Lakes’ water levels normal?

For the first time in about 25 years, the water level of the all the Great Lakes is above normal. Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron are about 5 inches above the long term average.

This ends a 15-year period where lake levels have been below historic averages. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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