Category Archives: Phenomena

How does weather impact forest fires?

Fires require fuel to burn, heat to ignite and oxygen to feed the chemical reaction. Weather plays a key role in all of these requirements to start and spread a forest fire. Weather and climate are important in making fuel … Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Weather Dangers

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What is “sea smoke” and where is it usually seen?

We recently got a question from a reader who had heard the term “sea smoke” while traveling near Superior on a windy, cold winter day.

Amazingly, sea smoke has a very similar physical origin to the “fog” we often encounter as we take a shower. Sea smoke is an example of a phenomena known broadly as steam fog. Continue reading

Category: Phenomena, Seasons

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What is thundersnow?

If you were outside Tuesday shoveling that heavy, wet snow, you may have heard thunder during the storm. Some folks indoors also heard the thunder while it was snowing.

You experienced thundersnow — a weather event that is not too common in Madison. When lightning and thunder occur during a snowstorm, the event gets reported as “thundersnow.” Continue reading

Category: Phenomena, Severe Weather

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Are hurricanes in January typical occurrences?

No. The annual hurricane season typically runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Approximately 97 percent of hurricanes occur during that time. January hurricanes are rare.

Alex was declared a hurricane in the Atlantic on Thursday and maintained hurricane winds until Friday. It was a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 85 mph. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather

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What does El Nino mean for southern Wisconsin’s winter this year?

El Nino is an atmosphere/ocean phenomenon in which the waters of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean are warmer than normal for an extended period of time.

This unusual warmth forces changes in the distribution of deep convective thunderstorms over the tropical ocean which, in turn, affect the position and strength of the jet stream. Since the jet stream acts a conduit of winter storms and can regulate intrusions of cold arctic air, changes in jet stream characteristics can have a profound influence on our winter weather. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Seasons

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