Author Archives: WeatherGuys Editor

What kind of autumn did we have temperature-wise?

The pre-winter months of September-October-November (SON) have recently come to an end with some points of interest to be made about the average temperature both locally and around the entire Northern Hemisphere.

Here in Madison, these three months have been quite distinct from each other with September’s average temperature rising 1.7 degrees above normal and October’s rising to 5.5 degrees above normal. Continue reading

Category: Uncategorized

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What are punch holes in clouds?

On Nov. 7, numerous “holes” appeared to be punched out of a cloud deck across the Upper Midwest.

Punch holes can occur after a plane flies through the cloud if the cloud droplets are supercooled, with their temperatures below freezing. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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What is La Niña and the impact on Wisconsin’s coming winter weather?

La Niña refers to a departure from normal in the sea-surface temperature across much of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

The water temperatures off the west coast of South America are typically 60 to 70 degrees. During a La Niña these waters get as much as 7 degrees colder than normal. La Niña conditions recur every few years and last nine to 12 months, though some events have lingered for as many as two years. This cooling results from a strengthening of the winds over the tropical Pacific and its interaction with the underlying ocean waters. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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How does frost form?

Frost on objects is just water vapor in the air that has deposited itself as ice onto a surface. Frost forms on objects close to the ground, such as blades of grass.

At night, a blade of grass loses energy by emitting radiation (a non-lethal kind) while it gains energy by absorbing the energy emitted from surrounding objects. Under clear nighttime skies, objects near the ground emit more radiation than they receive from the sky, and so a blade of grass cools as its energy losses are greater than its energy gains. If the temperature of a grass blade gets cold enough and there is sufficient water vapor in the environment, frost will form on the grass. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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What is an atmospheric river?

The extreme and persistent drought that has plagued parts of California for several years will be at least slightly remedied by the torrential rains that fell over the weekend over much of the central and northern part of the state.

These rains were associated with a phenomenon called an “atmospheric river.”

Atmospheric rivers are organized flows of deep, moist air from the subtropics and tropics that bring many locations in California a large portion of their annual precipitation. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather

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