Category Archives: Seasons

Why does the severe weather threat increase as spring and summer approach?

As the threat of winter snows recedes across the country, it is replaced by the threat of severe weather — thunderstorms with hail, damaging winds and tornadoes.

The severe weather season, though broadly spanning March through August across the United States, is actually quite regional. It begins in March in the southern states, moves to the southern Plains during April and May, and then farther north toward the Great Lakes states during the summer. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Severe Weather

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Did spring come early this year?

Astronomically, spring occurs when the sun’s rays strike the equator at noon at an angle that is directly overhead.

This particular time varies from year to year due to variations in Earth’s orbit about the sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal, or spring, equinox (“equi” meaning “equal,” and “nox,” “night”) occurs sometime between March 19 and 23, but often on March 20 or 21. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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How severe was our just-completed meteorological winter?

Employing data from the last 72 winter seasons — December, January and February — we have been examining the size of the area one mile above sea level over the Northern Hemisphere that was colder than 23 degrees.

After recording the warmest December ever, since the cold area was the smallest found using this methodology, this year’s winter season ended up as the fifth-warmest of the last 72 — fairly impressive. In fact, perhaps not surprisingly, 14 of the 20 warmest winters by this measure have occurred since 2001-02, with the warmest being 2014-15. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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How did this winter compare to average?

Less than two weeks ago, on Feb. 17, Madison reached its annual climatological amount of snowfall — 51 inches — with a 5.2-inch fall. This is yet another wrinkle in what has been a very unusual winter.

Almost everyone remembers the early snowfalls of late October and early November that delivered a total of 16 inches of seasonal snowfall by Nov. 11. Perhaps forgotten, however, is the seven-week snow drought that followed, with the next 1-inch snowfall — 1.5 inches to be exact — finally arriving on Dec. 30. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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What’s up with the Antarctic weather?

On Feb. 6, a record high temperature of 65 degrees was recorded at a research base located at the most northern tip of Antarctica. That beats the previous record of 63.5 set in March 2015.

Then on Feb. 9, the temperature on Seymour Island in the Antarctic Peninsula reached 69.5, setting a new record. This is the warmest temperature measured on the world’s coldest continent. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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