Category Archives: Meteorology

Who was Professor Suomi?

Verner Suomi was a professor at UW-Madison and is known as the “father of satellite meteorology” because of his historic role in defining that field of study. In the late 1950s, he and Robert Parent, a UW professor of electrical … Continue reading

Category: Meteorology

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What are straight-line winds?

The term “straight-line winds” describes ground-level winds that come out of a thunderstorm and do not have rotation. If these winds travel at speeds that exceed 57 mph, the storm is classified as a severe thunderstorm. Storms with severe straight-line winds can also have hail and tornadoes.

Straight-line winds can cause considerable damage because these winds often do not let up. Straight-line winds will push objects over, all in the same direction as the wind is blowing. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather, Weather Dangers

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Why does it smell good after a rain?

Many times after a rain, there is a distinctive odor in the air — a sort of musky smell. This pleasant fragrance is most common in rains that follow a dry spell.

The phenomenon is referred to as petrichor, from the Greek roots petra (stone) and ichor (the blood of gods in Greek mythology). If you are a gardener, you may find this smell similar to the smell you sense when you turn over your soil. Good organic soils contain bacteria, and a bacterium that is abundant in damp warm soils is actinomycete. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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Does Memorial Day or Labor Day have better weather?

A Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of the summer while Labor Day marks the end. People are bound to have their own recollections and opinions about which weekend more reliably delivers agreeable weather here in southern Wisconsin and those opinions can be colored by many non-meteorological influences.

If forced to opine on this question while sticking to strictly meteorological factors, we would suggest that Labor Day weekend’s weather is more reliably summerlike. The reason for this comes directly from the fact that Memorial Day comes as winter is ending and Labor Day as winter approaches. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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Ask the Weather Guys: What is brontology?

What is brontology? Brontology is the scientific study of thunder. All thunder results from lightning. A bolt of lightning rapidly heats the air around it, which causes the air to quickly expand and generate a sound wave we call thunder. … Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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