Category Archives: Weather Dangers

How unusual was the rapid intensification of Hurricane Patricia?

The recent extremely powerful Hurricane Patricia off the west coast of Mexico, the most intense hurricane ever measured in the Western Hemisphere, was noteworthy for a number of reasons.

Perhaps primarily, it was characterized by the incredible fact that its central minimum pressure decreased by 100 millibars in 24 hours from Oct. 22-23. Since the average sea-level pressure is just over 1,000 millibars, that means that 10 percent of the atmospheric column over the center of Patricia was somehow evacuated in only one day. Continue reading

Category: Tropical, Weather Dangers

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Will this mild November weather continue?

Not necessarily. Some warm Novembers had some severe extratropical cyclones, particularly around Veteran’s Day (formally known as Armistice Day).

Tuesday marks the 40th year since a winter storm blew across the Midwest, sending the freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald to the bottom of Lake Superior with all 29 crew members. Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 ballad “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” helped make this incident the most famous disaster in Great Lakes shipping history. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather, Weather Dangers

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Can we predict tornadoes?

A tornado is a powerful, narrow column of winds that rotate around a center of low pressure. The winds inside a tornado spiral inward and upward, often exceeding speeds of 300 mph.

We cannot always tell if a developing storm will produce a tornado. Advances in radar technologies have helped to identify storms that are producing a tornadoes, or about to produce a tornado. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather, Weather Dangers

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Why have the skies been so hazy?

Summer skies often look hazy because of the high humidity, which condenses in the sky and forms small liquid water particles that scatter light, creating that hazy effect.

But there’s a different reason our skies have not been a nice blue color when they’re cloud-free: smoke.

It’s coming from wildfires in the forests of the Northwest Territories in Canada, which were started naturally by lightning strikes. The winds have moved this smoke our way, defining which areas would be affected by the smoke. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Weather Dangers

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How do you stay safe from lightning?

Lightning can be fun to watch but it is also very dangerous.

Approximately 300 people are injured by lightning each year, and about 62 people are killed. On average there is about one death caused by lightning in Wisconsin annually. Continue reading

Category: Phenomena, Severe Weather, Weather Dangers

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