Category Archives: Seasons

Is there energy in snow?

Since the beginning of this year, Madison and Dane County have received about 35 inches of snow.

Snow is a form of solid water and water is the only substance that occurs naturally in all three phases — solid, liquid and invisible gas — in the Earth’s atmosphere. Of course, that means that the 35 inches of snow began as the equivalent amount of water in the invisible vapor (gas) phase before it was transformed into solid water. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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How good are the groundhog predictions?

The predictions made by this folk forecast are correct only about 40 percent of the time — vastly inferior to what is delivered by modern science. If you flip a coin, you’ll be right close to 50 percent of the time.

This year’s prediction by the furry animal is for an early spring. As for a more scientific approach, temperatures over the next six weeks look about average. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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How low will temperature go?

On Jan. 30, 1951, the morning low temperature in Madison fell to minus 37. Nearly 12 years later, on Jan. 15, 1963, the mercury dropped to precisely minus 30.

These two days remain the only dates in Madison’s recorded history with temperatures as cold as minus 30. On those record-setting days a number of characteristic meteorological conditions were in play to drive the temperature to such extremes. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Severe Weather

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Is winter finally here?

Though we have enjoyed a remarkably warm December and first half of January in Madison this year, we are now entering deep winter.

The period from Dec. 1 through Jan. 17 has averaged 7.4 degrees above normal this year and has contributed to our breaking or approaching several obscure, but nonetheless, interesting records of prolonged warmth — provided courtesy of Jordan Gerth at the Space Science and Engineering Center at UW-Madison. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Severe Weather

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What is the status of Antarctica’s ice sheets?

Most of Antarctica is covered by ice.

The ice sheet is over 2 miles thick in places and in some places the ice sheet bottom is almost a mile below sea level. This massive ice covers mountain ranges, and volcanoes exist underneath the sheets. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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