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Wednesday was the 153rd anniversary of the first day of operation of what has become the National Weather Service. On Nov. 1, 1870, the first organized set of observations around the country were taken under the auspices of the Army Signal Service.
On Feb. 9 of that same year, President Ulysses S. Grant, fresh from his own experiences during the Civil War, enthusiastically signed the service into existence. Its purpose was “to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories … and for giving notice on the northern (Great) Lakes and on the seacoast by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms.” Continue reading
A waterspout is a whirlwind that forms beneath a cumulus cloud over water. Before you see the waterspout, you may see a funnel-like cloud hanging from the cloud base. The Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico, and Chesapeake Bay are common regions for waterspouts.
The Great Lakes also have waterspouts, though seasonally. August and September are the most common months for Great Lakes waterspouts to develop, with the full season considered to run from the end of July into October. Continue reading
As it turns out, predictions of the coming weather are nearly exclusively dependent on the observed conditions of the atmosphere in the day prior to the forecast period. Continue reading
What holds the clouds up in the air and what makes some clouds appear to be fluffy on top but flat on the bottom?
One of our readers awoke to some beautiful clouds in the summer sky recently and two excellent questions popped into her mind: What holds the clouds up in the air and what makes some clouds appear to be fluffy on top but flat on the bottom?
Clouds are composed of tiny liquid water droplets — whose diameters are about the width of a human hair — and tiny shards of ice in a variety of shapes, or habits. Whether a cloud is mostly liquid water droplets or ice particles depends, as you might guess, on the ambient temperature of the air in the cloud. Continue reading
The Fourth of July holiday often is celebrated with community fireworks shows, as well as some backyard fireworks. Fireworks have a broad range of good weather conditions in which to be set off and viewed.
Rain has multiple possible effects on fireworks. Fireworks get very hot. For example, when lit, the tip of a sparkler has a temperature of 1,200 degrees; so once lit, it would take a very heavy rain to extinguish the firework. Damp conditions from rain can hamper the lighting of some fireworks. Continue reading