Weather Blogs

June 26, 2017

The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that today’s 4th of July festivities will bring fireworks in the sky … from thunderstorms! In honor of nature’s fireworks, we are taking a look at some thunder lore and how thunder is born! What is Thunder? Thunder is born in the instant when the return lightning stroke leaves the earth and spears upward through the channel of ionized air. The channel is viciously expanded outward and bursts in the sonic shock wave that reaches up as a thunderclap. This initial... more

June 16, 2017

What is a rainbow? Most everyone has seen a rainbow sometime in their life, but do you know how rainbows are actually formed? Here’s an explanation. What is a Rainbow? To put it plainly, rainbows are reflections of sunlight through raindrops. As the light is reflected, it is refracted, which means that the direction of the light wave is changed. Different wavelengths of light, which we see as colors, bend at different angles and produce a rainbow’s signature color banding, as seen in the... more

June 2, 2017

As I’ve mentioned before, twelve new cloud types were announced this past year. Some of the most interesting are what we call the “special” and accessory clouds … (The photo above shows the “Doomsday” cloud, Undulatus Asperatus, which I shared in my last post on new cloud discoveries.) What’s an accessory cloud? This is a cloud that accompanies another. Believe me, you would rather see the picture than have one coming at you. The new accessory cloud is called a “flumen” and is a low cloud... more

May 23, 2017

With the start of hurricane season upon us, let’s look back on some of the worst, most destructive hurricanes that have hit the United States. This month, we’ll look at five from the first half of the 20th century; in coming months, we’ll look at more recent major hurricanes. Note that it was not until 1953 that Atlantic/Gulf Hurricanes were given women’s names—with men’s names added in 1979—so the earlier storms are known by the region they most affected. The Galveston Hurricane (1900) The... more

May 22, 2017

My last post celebrated cloud lovers and how they shook the science world with their cell phones. They discovered 12 clouds now listed in the International Cloud Atlas—the first officially recognized in 30 years. Now it’s time to meet these strange new clouds filling the skies.  Clouds recognized since 1986. Source: NOAA. The World Meteorological Organization originally recognized only 10 types (genera) of clouds and organized them by form and height, with genus, species and varieties just... more

May 15, 2017

Reach into your pocket and you will find the newest weather instrument—your cell phone. Thanks to people’s cell pictures, scientists have now discovered 12 new clouds. These are the first new clouds discovered in 30 years.  For a cloud to officially exist, it must be recognized by the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which lists types of clouds in its International Cloud Atlas. This year it published a new edition and for the first time since 1986 has listed new types... more

April 25, 2017

With winter behind us, let’s look ahead to see our most likely weather over the rest of spring and the coming summer. The key to our upcoming weather is that Solar Cycle 24 is now well into its declining phase after reaching double peaks in late 2011 and early 2014. Despite having two maxima, this cycle is the smallest in more than 100 years; solar activity will continue to decline from these low peaks toward its expected minima in early 2019. With the current neutral ENSO (El Niño–Southern... more

April 20, 2017

One of the joys of working with weather is that I also work with satellite pictures—to see our beautiful Earth from above. We have all seen the local weather forecasters showing satellite pictures of approaching rains and storms. But most don’t get to see some of the other pictures, especially some of the incredible new nighttime pictures, allowing us to follow the weather day and night. These pictures also show the incredible beauty of the city lights. Check out the recent picture of Europe.... more

April 3, 2017

There were a record number of high and low temperatures across the U.S. and Canada in 2016—and the same goes for 2017 thus far. Last winter was so much warmer than normal that I thought we could not possibly surpass that record warmth this winter. However, we keep breaking new weather records, especially for warmth. For you weather nerds (and I count myself among you), here are a few items that you might find of interest. Causes of Record Warmth Just paging through Science News, an article... more

March 22, 2017

It was the giant blizzard that was scheduled to paralyze New York City and predicted to become “life-threatening” in Philadelphia.  Local governments responded sensibly. Warnings were issued and road clearing equipment readied. Schools closed. Amtrak canceled and modified its service while airlines canceled more than 5,000 flights. Then the storm hit—and missed. Fortunately, the brunt of it did not hit the vulnerable cities. Instead, the whole system hit further west and north, into areas... more

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