Category Archives: Meteorology

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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How do raindrops form?

Rainmaking is not easy. Cloud droplets are usually 10 times smaller than the periods in this article, and a single, small raindrop is a collection of about 1 million of them. To form rain, we need a mechanism to collect these cloud droplets.

One process to produce a large drop quickly is to combine many smaller particles. To do this, the cloud particles have to bump into each other and merge together, or coalesce. This is called the collision-coalescence process. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology

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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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