Weather Blogs

August 20, 2015

South Carolina reported seeing a “fire rainbow” on August 16, 2015. Then two days later, a “fire tornado” swirled through the skies over Idaho.  Nature never ceases to surprise (and delight) us! What are these rare phenomena? Interesting, these two events represent both hot and cold weather. What is a Firenado? Fire tornadoes occur when the updrafts from the heat carry flaming debris up a hundred feet or more. Higher winds catch the updraft and swirl it. Think of a dust devil—a really hot... more

July 20, 2015

Last week I blogged about the Southwestern Monsoon. It started early and was running strong. The desert was blossoming and it was reaching out and watering the Southern Plain States. I also warned that sometimes, when this monsoon was strong it sucked up hurricanes. When it does it dumps a ridiculous amount of rain. Last week’s blog warned that strong monsoons frequently suck up Pacific hurricanes. NOAA Guess what happened. Hurricane Dolores was minding her own business, enjoying a cruise up... more

July 14, 2015

July is the time of desert miracles. From Southern California to Western Texas, the wet season arrives and the desert blooms. The afternoon thunderstorms drench the soil and thirsty plants blossom. When the monsoon arrives, the desert blooms. Source: USDA Forest Service The short desert monsoon season is usually spectacular. The heat builds and the giant clouds begin to swell. Sometime in the late afternoon or early evening, the skies begin to rumble. Lightning flashes, winds mount and then... more

June 21, 2015

“And it rains, rains, rains, That ring of fire, that ring of fire.”  If you love country music, the Ring of Fire is the burning love of Johnny Cash. If you are into weather, it’s the type of weather that hit the US in the middle of June, when Tropical Storm Bill brought showers from Texas all the way to the Corn Belt and the East Coast.  Bill finished the four-year drought in Texas and Oklahoma and brought welcome rainfall to the Corn Belt.  Looking back, how did it all happen? The soggy Ring... more

June 16, 2015

When you think of the Northern Lights, you probably think of those “aurora-hunters” braving the cold in Alaska in hopes of viewing such a dazzling light display; after all, they are called the Northern Lights for a reason, right? Strangely enough, however, under the perfect conditions, sky-gazers at all latitudes occasionally have the chance to catch the elusive phenomenon. Coming soon … the Northern Lights are venturing south! Those lucky enough to have had the chance to personally witness the... more

June 14, 2015

When you think of Red, White and Blue you normally think of the flag and the Fourth of July. If you are a scientist in Antarctica, however, you may be thinking about the latest studies on the red, white and blue of the world’s coldest continent. Some of the ice in Antarctica is deep blue or turquoise. Source: Wikimedia by Andreas Tille Most ice is clear or white. In Antarctica, however, an estimated 1% of the continent is covered with stretches of blue ice. Less beautiful (and much creepier),... more

June 12, 2015

I’ve recently blogged about “blood rain” and have blogged about raining “cats and dogs”. Now it’s time to look at the weirdest rain of all—critter rain. A 1557 woodcut showing a rain of frogs in Scandinavia. Public domain Rainfalls of animals have been recorded for centuries, with some of the oldest records dating from 77 AD by the Roman Pliny the Elder. While these stories of falling fish, frogs and bugs are strange, over the past two centuries scientists have confirmed that they do occur.... more

June 9, 2015

If you've ever been close to a lightning strike, you know just how powerful a stroke of lightning is. With temperatures five times hotter than the surface of the Sun and enough electricity to briefly power a city, one of Zeus's thunderous bolts is clearly something beneath which you don't want to find yourself. Surprisingly, only about 10 to 20 percent of all lightning within a storm is the lightning that we see. In fact, the vast majority occurs within the storm cloud rather than between... more

June 2, 2015

When Texas decides to end a drought, there are no half-measures. The Texas and Southern Great Plain drought is ending with record floods. The weather is doing the springtime Texas two-step and a lot of areas are getting trampled! What a Difference a Month Makes! The map below shows the weather on May 5. Note the dark-colored dry and drought regions. The next map shows the weather on May 26. The month of May brought tremendous rain in the Great Plains and now there are no severe drought and... more

May 26, 2015

Ana was a rule-breaker. The Atlantic Hurricane Season is supposed to start in June.  Tropical Storm Ana developed in early May. Tropical storms are supposed to develop in the tropics. Ana was born north of the tropics. El Niños are supposed to keep tropical storms from developing in the Atlantic. Nothing stopped Ana. Even Ana’s start was messy. She started as a crazy schizophrenic. Basically, there are two types of storms​—tropical and extratropical (cold fronts). Ana was both! Her top, what... more


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