Category Archives: Meteorology

What is Groundhog Day and do the forecasts work?

Long before computers, the Weather Channel and the Internet, humans needed weather forecasts. Farmers and sailors particularly needed to know if storms were approaching.

Over time, various folklore forecasts, often in the form of short rhymes, were devised and passed down through the generations. Although memorable, the folklore forecasts are of uneven quality—some good, others bad. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Was the Blizzard of 2016 forecasted well in advance?

The blizzard that affected over 80 million Americans from the Deep South to New England over the weekend was a historic storm in many ways.

Perhaps most obviously, the snowfall totals that it delivered in the so-called Megalopolis (the stretch of cities from Washington, D.C., northeast to Boston) equaled or surpassed records in many locations. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather, Weather Dangers

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Are hurricanes in January typical occurrences?

No. The annual hurricane season typically runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Approximately 97 percent of hurricanes occur during that time. January hurricanes are rare.

Alex was declared a hurricane in the Atlantic on Thursday and maintained hurricane winds until Friday. It was a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 85 mph. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather

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What’s really going on in that slush puddle?

The recent snow and ice followed by a bit of melting filled sidewalks and some city streets with puddles of slush — that wondrous winter concoction of liquid water and ice.

Though it is not possible to see, surrounding any puddle of slush is also a cloud of countless invisible water vapor molecules. In fact, of all the many chemical constituents of the Earth’s atmosphere, only the water substance can naturally occur in all three of its phases – solid, liquid and gas – at Earth temperatures. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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What improvements in weather forecasting can we expect in 2016?

There are three fundamental ways to improve weather forecasting: better observations of the atmosphere, improvements in computer models and a better physical understanding of the atmosphere.

The fall of 2016 will see the launch of the next generation of U.S. weather satellites. These satellites, referred to as the GOES-R series, will view Earth with 16 wavelengths, compared to the five wavelengths of the current satellite. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology

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