Category Archives: Seasons

What and when is the winter solstice?

The winter solstice — in Latin, sol or “sun” and stice, “come to a stop” — is the day of the year with the fewest hours of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere. This year it occurs at 4:02 a.m. Monday. … Continue reading

Category: Seasons

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What created season’s first snowstorm?

Even if you are not a particular fan of winter weather, it is hard to deny that there is something about the first snow of the season. In fact, British author J.B. Priestley expressed its transcendent nature beautifully when he … Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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What causes a mid-latitude cyclone to develop?

Our recent weekend storm on Nov. 14-15 was the first strong storm of the autumn/winter season.

As you found yourself caught in the strong winds, you may well have wondered how do storms like this one 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 such storms are formed. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Severe Weather

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How is Wisconsin winter weather affected by La Niña?

Both La Niña and El Niño refer to big changes in the sea-surface temperature across much of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

The water temperatures off the west coast of South America are typically 60 to 70 degrees. During a La Niña, these waters get as much as 7 degrees colder. These La Niña conditions recur every few years and last nine to 12 months, though some events have lingered for as many as two years. This cooling results from a strengthening of the winds over the tropical Pacific and its interaction with the underlying ocean waters. Continue reading

Category: Phenomena, Seasons

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How unusual is the current warm spell?

After a rather persistently cold October in which the monthly averaged temperature was 3.5 degrees below normal, the first week of November has been remarkably pleasant with high temperatures at or above 68 every day since Election Day.

Naturally, such warm weather in November arouses curiosity regarding the frequency of November days with high temperatures at or above 70 degrees in Madison. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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