Category Archives: Meteorology

What is a waterspout?

There are two types of waterspouts: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts.

A fair weather waterspout is a whirlwind that forms beneath a cumulus cloud and over water. It’s generally not associated with thunderstorms.

A fair weather waterspout develops on the surface of the water and moves upward. Before you see the waterspout, you may see a funnel cloud hanging from the bottom of the cumulus cloud. A waterspout forms as the rotating funnel draws up water. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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Do the Rocky Mountains influence our weather?

Our string of beautiful days at the end of last week were related, believe it or not, to the presence of the Rocky Mountains hundreds of miles to our west. Last week, the atmospheric flow at levels just above the … Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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Why are cold snaps in autumn so short-lived?

Over the past weekend southern Wisconsin experienced its first cold snap of the season with widespread morning lows in the lower 30s on Friday and Sunday mornings.

Very often cold snaps in the autumn are very short-lived as this recent example was, affecting usually one or two nights at most. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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How accurate were forecasts of Hurricane Laura?

When Hurricane Laura made landfall just south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, at 2 a.m. Thursday, it did so as the strongest hurricane to strike the state in more than 160 years and one of the top 10 strongest landfalling storms in U.S. history.

By the time the storm came ashore 30 miles south of Lake Charles, it likely packed gusts to over 150 mph. Indeed, the peak gust at Lake Charles was 137 mph — truly incredible considering that the city is 30 miles from the coastline. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather, Tropical

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Does the ozone hole occur over both poles?

The ozone hole refers to the appearance of very low values of ozone in the stratosphere.

The winter atmosphere above Antarctica is very cold. It occurs typically high over the continent of Antarctica, during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring. The cold temperatures result in a temperature gradient between the South Pole and the Southern Hemisphere middle latitudes, which results in strong westerly stratospheric winds that encircle the South Pole region. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Seasons

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