Category Archives: Meteorology

How are the National Weather Service and Wisconsin connected?

The roots of our National Weather Service have a distinctive Wisconsin flavor. Professor Increase A. Lapham, a University of Wisconsin professor at the time of the founding of the university, was the first official Smithsonian Institution weather observer in Milwaukee … Continue reading

Category: Meteorology

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Is there a net loss of water from the upper atmosphere?

Yes, but very little loss occurs.

Our planet, along with all planets that have an atmosphere, lose gases to outer space. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology

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How does frost form?

Frost on objects is just water vapor in the air that has deposited itself as ice onto a surface. Frost forms on objects close to the ground, such as blades of grass.

At night, a blade of grass loses energy by emitting radiation (a non-lethal kind) while it gains energy by absorbing the energy emitted from surrounding objects. Under clear nighttime skies, objects near the ground emit more radiation than they receive from the sky, and so a blade of grass cools as its energy losses are greater than its energy gains. If the temperature of a grass blade gets cold enough and there is sufficient water vapor in the environment, frost will form on the grass. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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Do trees need cold weather?

Extreme cold weather can kill trees, and cold weather at the wrong time can damage trees. For example, a warm February and March in Michigan in 2012 brought early blooms to apple trees that then were killed by an April frost.

Some trees require cool temperatures, such as some fruit trees (peaches, cherries and blueberries) and nuts (almonds). Cold air along with less sunlight that comes with winter halts tree growth, preparing the tree to withstand freezing temperatures and then resume their growing the following spring. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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What’s up with all the wild weather?

Another week of destructive weather around our country culminated in the passage of Hurricane Maria over the island of Puerto Rico on Wednesday of last week. Some of the rainfall totals from automated stations on the island were of truly biblical proportions.

Though still subject to verification and a check on accuracy, 12.20 inches of rain fell in one hour at Gurabo Abajo, one of several stations on the southwest side of El Yunque, the high mountainous area in the northeast. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Tropical

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