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Author Archives: WeatherGuys Editor
The stratosphere, which begins approximately 6 miles above the cold poles and 10 miles above the tropics, is where the temperature increases with altitude. Temperatures increase because ozone molecules in the stratospheric ozone layer absorb solar ultraviolet energy within the stratosphere. Air flow in the stratosphere is much less turbulent than in the troposphere. For this reason, jet aircraft pilots like to cruise at stratospheric altitudes so the flight is less bumpy. In polar regions, the top of the stratosphere extends upward to around 30 miles.
The polar vortex is a band of strong winds high in the atmosphere that spins counterclockwise around the North Pole. At the southern edge of the vortex is the polar jet stream, which separates warm air to its south from increasingly colder air to its north. Continue reading
Since the beginning of the 2023-24 snow season, Madison and Dane County have received approximately 32 inches of snow.
Snow is a form of solid water, and water is the only substance that occurs naturally in all three phases — solid, liquid and invisible gas — in the Earth’s atmosphere. Of course, that means that the 32 inches of snow began as the equivalent amount of water in the invisible vapor (gas) phase before it transformed into solid water. Continue reading
The extremely unusual weather we have experienced this winter perhaps reached a new peak last Thursday when, in addition to remarkable springlike temperatures in the southern part of the state — Madison reached a high of 55 degrees while Milwaukee hit 59 — there were confirmed tornadoes in several southern counties: Dane, Rock and Green.
These are the first February tornadoes ever recorded in Wisconsin. And this means we are in absolutely uncharted weather and climate territory. What’s more, this strange weather is not limited to our region. In fact, thus far the entire Northern Hemisphere is running its fourth-warmest winter (Dec. 1 through Feb. 7) in the past 76, years and we have a genuine shot at being the warmest ever by the time this month is over. Continue reading
Folklore forecasts, often in the form of short rhymes, help farmers and mariners predict short term weather. Continue reading
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