Category Archives: Phenomena
In 1803, British pharmacist and chemist Luke Howard devised a classification system for clouds. It has proved so successful that meteorologists have used Howard’s system ever since, with minor modifications.
According to his system, clouds are given Latin names corresponding to their appearance — layered or convective— and their altitude. Clouds are also categorized based on whether they are precipitating. Continue reading
The atmosphere is actually a fluid. Like water, the pressure at the bottom of a deep column of fluid is larger than the pressure near the top of the column.
Fluids move in response to differences in pressure (the pressure gradient force), always flowing from high toward low pressure. In fact, the wind is driven by pressure differences measured in the horizontal directions. Therefore, the air near the ground (at the bottom of the deep atmosphere) is compelled to move upward toward lower pressure above. Continue reading
El Niño is a combined atmosphere/ocean circulation anomaly in the tropical Pacific Ocean in which unusually warm surface water extends westward from the coast of Peru into the mid-Pacific. One is predicted to develop this winter, which may impact our winter weather.
The warmer than normal waters support persistent tropical thunderstorms in that same region — where such storms are ordinarily rare. Continue reading
We are now in the heart of the baseball season and even the casual fans begin to tune in a bit more regularly to the summer game. One of the long-standing pieces of baseball wisdom suggests that the heat and humidity of oppressive summer heat waves render the air “heavy” and lead to a decrease in offensive power, particularly in home runs.
The veracity of this “wisdom” is testable. Continue reading
While the recent Hawaiian eruptions are impacting the weather and air quality of the immediate area, they are not likely to have a global impact nor to affect Wisconsin’s weather.
The reason is that the ash cloud debris, while reaching 30,000 feet, has remained in the troposphere, the layer where local weather occurs. To have a global impact, the volcano must eject debris into the stratosphere. There it can last for a couple of years and spread over the entire globe. By the ash reaching only into the troposphere, it can stay airborne for no more than a week due to precipitation processes, wind and gravity. Continue reading