Category Archives: Seasons

Ask the Weather Guys: What causes cold air outbreaks?

Almost no one in the Midwest will be unaffected by the remarkable cold air outbreak that occurred over the past weekend. And if you think that we were paid a rather early visit by such air this year, you are … Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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Is the Earth’s spin axis drifting?

The Earth revolves around an imaginary line that passes through the North and South Poles, known as the spin axis. As it spins the Earth drifts and wobbles. And now scientists have identified three reasons.

The Earth wobbles on its axis once every 27,000 years, similar to a spinning top. This alters the relationship between the solstices and the distance from the Earth to the Sun. For example, 11,000 years ago the Northern Hemisphere summer solstice occurred at perihelion, when the Earth is closest to the Sun. That is almost the exact opposite of the case today, Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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How is the Arctic sea ice doing?

One of several diagnostic signals of a warming climate is the extent of sea ice in the Arctic, particularly its annual minimum extent which often arrives around the autumnal equinox.

The sea-ice extent is directly measured by satellite data and is available through the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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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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