Category Archives: Meteorology

What caused the recent weather extremes?

The National Weather Service in Milwaukee confirms that three separate tornadoes occurred in our state on Tuesday.

EF-1 tornadoes, with winds estimated at up to 110 mph, struck Lake Geneva and a location just outside of Big Bend. An EF-0 tornado, with winds estimated at up to 80 mph, struck southwest Waukesha. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Severe Weather

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What is the hydrologic cycle?

Sitting nearly in the middle of the vast North American continent, Madison has what is known as a continental climate.

Continental climates are characterized by large annual extremes in temperature and humidity as well as very distinct seasons. The continental nature of Madison’s climate is what makes a year’s worth of weather in Madison usually a lot more varied than a year’s worth in Seattle, for instance. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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Can we predict tornadoes?

A tornado is a powerful, narrow column of winds that rotate around a center of low pressure. The winds inside a tornado spiral inward and upward, often exceeding speeds of 300 mph.

We cannot always tell if a developing storm will produce a tornado. Advances in radar technologies have helped to identify storms that are producing a tornadoes, or about to produce a tornado. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather, Weather Dangers

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When is the warmest day of the year?

As we move past mid-July, the climatologically warmest day of the year in Madison (i.e. the day with the highest average high temperature) is in our immediate wake.

Every 10 years the 30-year climatology is updated in the following way: In 1972, we used the 1941-1970 average as climatology. By 1982 we were using the 1951-1980 average as climatology. Currently, we are using the 1981-2010 average as climatology. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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Why have the skies been so hazy?

Summer skies often look hazy because of the high humidity, which condenses in the sky and forms small liquid water particles that scatter light, creating that hazy effect.

But there’s a different reason our skies have not been a nice blue color when they’re cloud-free: smoke.

It’s coming from wildfires in the forests of the Northwest Territories in Canada, which were started naturally by lightning strikes. The winds have moved this smoke our way, defining which areas would be affected by the smoke. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Weather Dangers

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