Category Archives: Seasons

Can weather in the stratosphere affect us near the ground?

Thus far the winter has been relatively mild around the Northern Hemisphere. This December was the 14th-warmest December, and the period from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 was the eighth-warmest since 1948.

Such a prolonged delay to the onset of winter makes one wonder if it will ever arrive this year. Though there is no clear way to be sure about the answer to that question, one potential phenomenon that can encourage a winter-like cold air outbreak is a sudden warming of the lower stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere between 6 and 20 miles above the surface. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Seasons

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What were the top weather events for 2018?

The year began with frigid temperatures across Wisconsin. The average temperatures for the first seven days of January were well below normal across southern Wisconsin with most areas at least 15 degrees below normal.

The end of 2018 saw temperatures several degrees warmer than normal, including a record high temperature of 50 F on Dec. 27, tying a record high for the date, last set in 2003, and previously set in 1936 and 1946. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Will there be a White Christmas in Madison this year?

In testimony to the infectious appeal of the famous scenes memorialized by Nathaniel Currier and James Ives, prolific lithographers of the middle 19th century, there is an enduring obsession with snow at Christmastime.

A so-called White Christmas is officially observed anytime there is 1 inch of snow on the ground on Christmas morning, whether or not it is snowing at the time. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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What does the recent cold and snow say about climate change?

It has been quite a week for discussion of global warming.

November has been remarkably cold this year for most of the eastern United States.

In Madison, as just one example, the monthly temperature through Friday has been 6.2 degrees Fahrenheit below normal for the month and, with the prospect of more cold to come, it appears the month will end well below normal. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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What is El Niño and does it affect Wisconsin?

El Niño is a combined atmosphere/ocean circulation anomaly in the tropical Pacific Ocean in which unusually warm surface water extends westward from the coast of Peru into the mid-Pacific. One is predicted to develop this winter, which may impact our winter weather.

The warmer than normal waters support persistent tropical thunderstorms in that same region — where such storms are ordinarily rare. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Seasons

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