Monthly Archives: January 2024
Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have been used to make weather observations for half a century. Over the past decade there has been a wider application of drones in meteorology due in part to technological developments.
Drones can provide critical research observations of weather systems. For about a decade, NOAA has partnered with NASA to fly the Global Hawk high-altitude unmanned aircraft to observe and study how hurricanes form and intensify. High-resolution photographs from low-flying drones are used to understand and document wind and flood damage associated with severe weather. They also help to better assess storm intensity based on the damage. Continue reading
The Wisconsin State Climatology Office, housed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, monitors and reports on the ice coverage of Madison lakes.
The office keeps a database of the ice-over and ice-out dates for three Madison-area lakes: Mendota, Monona and Wingra. These records extend back to the winters of 1855-1856 for Mendota and Monona. The record of annual ice cover of Wingra is spotty, but consistent starting in the winter of 1982-83. Due to the long record based on visual observations, it is no surprise that the rules of opening and closing have been handed down by oral tradition. Continue reading
We are now a couple of days into what is easily the coldest air we have seen this entire winter.
Until a week ago, complaints about the lack of snow were also justified in the southern part of the state. However, two recent snow events have even changed that situation so that, as of Monday, Madison suddenly is 7.3 inches ahead of normal for the snow season, which started July 1. Continue reading
The National Weather Service denotes sky condition using the portion of sky covered by opaque cloud cover.
In meteorology, an okta is a unit of measurement used to describe the amount of cloud cover at a given location. Cloud conditions are estimated in terms of how many eighths of the sky are covered with opaque cloud, ranging from 0 oktas (completely clear sky) to 8 oktas (completely overcast). It does not include transparent clouds, such as thin cirrus. Continue reading
As we begin a new year, let’s look back on the weather of 2023. The most recent, and odd, weather event of the year was the warm temperature on Christmas Day, with a high of 54 degrees in Madison. That was only the seventh time since 1869 that the maximum temperature exceeded 50 degrees on Christmas.
The state received less than one-third of its usual precipitation in November. The statewide average temperature for the meteorological autumn (September, October and November) was 2.5 degrees above normal, which made it the eighth-warmest autumn on record. In October, the 4.14 inches of statewide average precipitation was 1.13 inches above the 1991-2020 normal. This helped to alleviate our drought conditions. Continue reading