Tag Archives: precipitation

What are ice pellets?

Ice pellets are a form of precipitation. They are small, translucent or clear balls of ice. Ice pellets are rain drops that have frozen before they hit the ground. When they hit the ground, they bounce. Ice pellets are also called sleet and can be accompanied by freezing rain. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology
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What is a nor’easter?

A nor’easter is an extratropical cyclone that affects the northeastern United States and extreme eastern Canada. An extratropical cyclone is a low-pressure system that forms outside of the tropics and is usually associated with fronts, unlike a tropical cyclone. A nor’easter is named for the strong northeasterly winds that blow across this region as the path of the low pressure moves northeastward, slightly to the east of the North American coastline. Continue reading

Category: Severe Weather
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How were recent heavy rains so well-predicted so many days in advance?

Though we have been relatively dry for much of the autumn, on the weekend of Oct. 13-14 we received a soaking rain of 0.86 inches on Saturday followed by 1.74 inches on Sunday. Two aspects of this heavy rain event are noteworthy to us. First, though Madison averages an inch of rain in a single day about six times each year, the 1.74 inches that fell on Sunday was the most in a single calendar day in Madison since 3.61 inches of rain fell on July 22, 2010. That long stretch includes two full summers (2011 and 2012) in which we never received such a rain. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology
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Why does it smell good after a rain?

Many times after a rain, there is a distinctive odor in the air — a sort of musky smell. This pleasant fragrance is most common in rains that follow a dry spell. If you are a gardener, you may find this smell similar to the smell you sense when you turn over your soil. Good organic soils contain bacteria. One bacterium that is abundant in damp warm soils is actinomycete. Continue reading

Category: Phenomena
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What is the outlook for Wisconsin’s winter?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center issues seasonal climate outlook maps for the nation. The organization’s forecast for Wisconsin’s 2011-12 meteorological winter (which started Thursday and runs through Feb. 29) is for below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation. Continue reading

Category: Climate
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