Weather Blogs

October 25, 2016

It’s Back! The “Cold Atlantic Blob” is once again haunting the North Atlantic. It may sound like a Halloween headline, but it could be great news for your winter heating bill. Scientists were puzzled last winter and spring when the North Atlantic was so cold last year when most of the ocean was hotter than normal. Then everything cooled back to normal this summer. Just when the scientists started to relax, it mysteriously returned. Now you see it, now you don’t. The Blob in April and this... more

October 17, 2016

It’s the fight of the century (or at least the year)! The winner decides where we have winter storms or drought. And we all have a ringside seat! Meet the duelers—on the left, La Niña and on the right the Positive PDO (blue=cool, red=hot). Sources: NASA and NOAA On this side is the mighty La Niña. She may be named the “Little Girl”, but this Tropical Pacific weather pattern cools one tenth of the globe. On the other side is the mighty Positive PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation), the... more

October 5, 2016

Does this cloud look like a mushroom in the sky? It appeared over Russia last month and had locals fearing that “doomsday” had arrived. To many locals, the clouds looked like the ‘mushroom cloud’ of a nuclear explosion. The emergency services for the Siberian city of Kemerovo were deluged with calls. While some feared a nuclear strike, other thought it might be an explosion in one of the nearby coal mines. The media started calling it the Siberian “Cloud of Doom.” However, this ‘mushroom... more

September 27, 2016

One of the joys of fall is the beautiful fall foliage—the reds, oranges, yellows, and browns. How will weather affect their color? Is it a good year for pretty leaves? How Does Sunlight Affect Autumn Leaves? Surprisingly, it is not the weather that is the primary factor that determines when the leaves turn. It’s the amount of sunlight. Leaves manufacture chlorophyll, which stores the energy of the sun. It’s chlorophyll that gives leaves their green color. When the days grow shorter during... more

September 20, 2016

As this busy hurricane season reaches its halfway point, it would be nice to know—where do hurricanes occur most and where are you most safe? It turns out that that is a major question. Not even Las Vegas, Nevada is totally safe! And if you live in Florida, forget about it.  From 1842 to 2012, tropical storms (green) and hurricanes (purple through yellow) have battered large areas throughout North America. Source: NOAA As the map above shows, the US, east of the Mississippi is the parade... more

September 13, 2016

Why do hurricanes like to bunch up? If one’s coming, get prepared for more. Hurricanes are social creatures that appear in groups. So are their West Pacific relatives, typhoons. Indeed, most hurricane seasons have busy periods and then lulls. (An exception was the busy 2005 season with Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and even Tropical Storm Zeta!) Normally June and July are fairly quiet, while early September, with the North Atlantic at its warmest, is usually quite stormy. The period of time from... more

August 14, 2016

As Louisiana, East Texas and the Midwest floundered in floods, satellites showed a startling picture. A double-decker river is flowing up the Mississippi! Hovering over the rolling waters of the Mississippi River is a giant atmospheric river!  A giant atmospheric river stretched from South Texas to New England. Welcome to the schizophrenic nature of La Niña conditions in the Tropical Pacific. Typically, when La Niña conditions dominate the Pacific, we see more extreme weather – more droughts... more

August 2, 2016

Recent satellite data shows that clouds have been retreating toward the poles, and that they’re also growing higher. Find out what these changes mean for your cloud watching afternoons! If you are a weather addict like me, one of life’s simple pleasures is cloud watching. (This one looks like a bunny. This one looks like a pony. That one looks like a cumulonimbus—get out the umbrellas!) Scientists have also been watching them, with decades of records from satellites. Clouds Shifting Toward the ... more

July 19, 2016

During the summer thunderstorm season, not all of the fireworks you will see this month are manmade. The skies will be filled with light—and many types of lightning! As my previous post on lightning noted, those lights are spectacular electric sparks. The collision of ice and slush churning in a thundercloud builds up static electricity. The slush near the bottom of the cloud builds up a negative charge while the tiny ice crystals carried to the top become positive. Finally, the charges equal... more

July 18, 2016

You might not believe it, but it snowed in four states this July! While summer snow in Alaska is hardly unusual (they leave year-round snow in the mountains just to impress the tourists), it was unexpected in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. ♪ Dashing through the snow ♫ In July!? On what is usually the hottest week of the year, a cool front lowered temperatures to the 40°s and dumped snow on the higher elevations. If you were above 10,000 feet at Yellowstone National Park, you had enough to build a ... more


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