Category Archives: Seasons

How does this winter measure up so far?

Two of the more popular (and telling) measures of the severity of a winter are extremes of cold and the presence of snow.

One reasonable way to consider extremes of cold might be to count the number of mornings on which the temperature drops below zero. So far this winter (defined as beginning on Dec. 1), we have had just five such mornings here in Madison. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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What is the winter solstice?

The winter solstice (In Latin, sol, “sun,” and stice, “come to a stop”) is the day of the year with the fewest hours of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere.

In 2021, this occurs for the Northern Hemisphere on Dec. 21 at 9:59 a.m.

As Earth orbits the sun, its axis of rotation is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees from its orbital plane. Because Earth’s axis of spin always points in the same direction — toward the North Star — the orientation of Earth’s axis to the sun is always changing as Earth orbits around the sun. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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What do we know about the deadly tornado outbreak of last week?

The devastating tornado outbreak that visited Kentucky and Illinois overnight Friday into Saturday morning has left a tragically large death toll in its wake.

Officials estimated Sunday that more than 100 people may have lost their lives to this event, though the recovery of some survivors later in the day gave hope the number might be lower. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Severe Weather

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How does weather affect snow-making?

Ski resorts often use snow machines to make snow and lay down a good base for the coming season.

To make snow for ski trails requires temperatures near or below freezing. The humidity also plays a role in snow-making; a lower humidity is better. A low temperature and a low humidity is the best atmospheric condition for snow-makers, as it yields the driest snow.

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Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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Is our recent cold snap a harbinger of things to come?

Our recent cold snap has brought the November average to just 0.5 degrees above normal through the first 17 days of November after a relatively warm October in Madison, where the average temperature was 5.9 degrees above normal. It is … Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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