Category Archives: Severe Weather

What makes loud noises on very cold days?

Thursday night and Friday morning, several people reported hearing loud noises, thinking something fell on their house or gunshots were fired.

These sounds result from what are called frost quakes or ice quakes. They occur when a rapid drop in temperature leads to a quick freeze. Continue reading

Category: Phenomena, Severe Weather

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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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Is the number of tornadoes increasing?

Tornadoes are sometimes not seen and thus sometimes not counted. Particularly early in the record keeping. But scientists interested in this question have studied the change in the key ingredients that form tornadoes, such as wind shear, atmospheric stability and … Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather

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How accurate was the forecast for Hurricane Michael?

Five days in advance of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, the National Hurricane Center forecast showed the storm making landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, with 80 mph winds, just above Category 1 hurricane force.

As we all know by now, the storm lashed the coast with winds in the 155-mph range, or strong Category 4 intensity. Continue reading

Category: Severe Weather, Tropical, Weather Dangers

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