Category Archives: Phenomena

What is a fire cloud?

With the raging fires in Australia, you may have heard news reports of pyrocumulus, or fire clouds.

In Latin, pyro means “fire” and cumulus means “pile up.” Cumulus is a type of cloud that is common in Wisconsin, particularly in summer. Cumulus clouds are those puffy white clouds with tops that have a cauliflower appearance. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather, Weather Dangers

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Why does fog form over the lake?

The recent cold weather was accompanied by interesting fog over the open water of our lakes.

Fog is essentially a ground-hugging cloud, composed of tiny liquid water droplets. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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What is fulgurite?

Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity that is five times hotter than the surface of the sun. When lightning strikes the ground, it is hot enough to fuse silica sand and clay together into fulgurites: shafts of glass produced … Continue reading

Category: Phenomena

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Can large cities generate their own weather?

The “urban heat island effect” refers to the increased temperatures of urban areas compared with their rural surroundings. The urban heat island is a well-documented example of inadvertent modification of climate by human activities. It is a classic example of … Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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Is that photo of circular lightning?

When we see a flash of lightning, it looks as though it forms all at once.

However, a lightning bolt is actually produced in many steps. The bolt occurs so quickly that it looks like a single brilliant flash, but high-speed photography can reveal several distinct bolts. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather

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