Category Archives: Meteorology

Why does it get colder in the fall and winter?

After a fairly prolonged stretch of warm and humid weather through mid-September, culminating in a temperature of 82 degrees just before midnight on Thursday, southern Wisconsin residents were greeted with low temperatures in the 40s on Saturday morning.

This seems particularly fitting as Saturday, Sept. 22, was the day of the autumnal equinox this year — fall officially arrived at 8:54 p.m. that night. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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How normal was this summer’s weather?

In southern Wisconsin, the average temperature for the summer months — defined as June, July and August — was near normal.

Rainfall was a different story. All of southern Wisconsin had summer accumulated precipitation of more than 16 inches, or 125 percent of normal. For much of the region, accumulated precipitation in August was more than 7 inches, which is more than 175 percent of normal. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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What caused last month’s flooding?

The nearly unprecedented flooding that has plagued the southern half of the state over most of the last two weeks began with the incredibly heavy rains that fell on Dane County and surrounding areas in the afternoon and evening of Aug. 20.

Western parts of Middleton recorded over 12 inches of rain, and a staggering total of 14.7 inches fell in Cross Plains in well less than 24 hours. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather

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What forces a mid-latitude cyclone to develop?

Our rainy Friday was arguably the first storm, or cyclone, of the autumn/winter season. Though it will surely be followed by more powerful examples, you may well have wondered how do such storms come to be?

That has been the central motivating question in meteorological science for most of the past 100 years. During that time, meteorologists have learned a great deal about how these mid-latitude cyclones are formed. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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When is tornado season?

Tornadoes form in regions of the atmosphere that have abundant warm and moist air near the surface with drier air above, a change in wind speed and direction with height, and weather systems such as fronts that force air upward.

The United States provides these three ingredients in abundance, so it is not surprising that the majority of the world’s reported tornadoes occur in the U.S. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather

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