Weather Blogs

June 12, 2018

Solar Cycle 24 is approaching its end, which will mean the beginning of Solar Cycle 25. What does that mean for Earth’s weather—and for us? Fig. 1 (below) is a graph from the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center showing Cycle 24’s very low level of solar activity—the lowest in more than two centuries, even lower than the level in the early 1900s and comparable to the very low levels of solar activity that occurred in the early 1800s (the period referred to as the “Dalton Minimum,” which... more

May 30, 2018

It’s noctilucent cloud season! Every year, from late spring through summer, eerie electric-blue clouds ripple across the night sky. They look alien—resembling something from another world. And that’s not far off. A key ingredient for the mysterious clouds comes from outer space. As you look at these gleaming, glowing clouds, cool yourself off by realizing that it is made of ice. The hot moist air of summer meets the cold dust from outer space and produces the rarest and most mysterious of night... more

May 23, 2018

Throughout history, religious milestones and unusual weather events and natural phenomena have often coincided. Whether you believe in the divine or not, it can be interesting to contemplate the connections.  Noah’s Ark Perhaps the best-known biblical story about the weather is that of Noah’s Ark, with 40 days and 40 nights of rain causing a world-engulfing flood. Geologists have found sediment layers that suggest that 7,500 years ago, Mediterranean water roared into the Black Sea, bringing a... more

April 16, 2018

Weather has played a critical role in history on a number of occasions. In both the American Revolutionary War and World War II, different weather outcomes than actually occurred might have led to the opposite side emerging victorious.  The Revolutionary War Gen. George Washington and most of the American troops were in what is now New York City in the summer of 1776. In late August, the British landed a much larger number of troops in the area in preparation for an attack. On August 27, the... more

April 12, 2018

You can blame this blog on my cat sprawling on my computer when I was trying to write this weather blog. Apparently my keyboard was the only suitable place in the entire house for a catnap. After a struggle for territory, I found myself brooding about cats and weather—specifically “raining cats and dogs.” Can you imagine anything more improbable or, for that matter, more uncomfortable? Why would anyone even imagine it in the first place? Raining Cats and Dogs Some authorities tie the idea to... more

March 26, 2018

Why are baby animals associated with Easter? And where did the Easter bunny come from? Enjoy our seasonal weather post—and, of course, adorable pictures of baby animals! Of course, spring does provide the best weather conditions for the animals to give birth. However, it’s not just warm temperatures that they need. Air pressure also has an effect! University of Arkansas scientists report that spring calves tend to be born when barometric (air) pressure is high! High air pressure discourages... more

March 22, 2018

The end of winter in North America brought chilly weather in many regions, and the cold and snow in Europe made news headlines. But the most unusual weather this winter is going on at the North Pole—with exceptionally high temperatures at the Arctic. Things are heating up where warmth is least expected. The cold spell in the Northern Hemisphere is unusual, perhaps, but not exceptional.  In general, cold waves are becoming less frequent. However, the warmth in the Arctic is extraordinary. During... more

February 22, 2018

Who has been watching the Winter Olympics? Did anyone notice (from your cozy living room) that many of the days were not just cold … they were bone-chillingly frigid? What caused such extreme temperatures for a location at the same latitude as Washington, D.C.? The first few days saw temperatures dropping into the single digits F° during the day. With the windchill, temperatures dropped below zero. Consider the even more extreme sensation that an athlete gets when going 50 mph down the... more

February 15, 2018

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 2017 was the second warmest year in surface temperatures averaged across the entire Earth since global estimates began in 1880. So what should we expect for 2018? The only warmer year than 2017 on record was 2016, when temperatures were bolstered by an El Niño, which typically causes warming effects around the globe due to the warmer water in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Thus, 2017 was the warmest year without an El Niño... more

February 8, 2018

It’s hard to believe that Mardi Gras started with long hard winters and acts of charity. However, before it was a day for parties, Mardi Gras started out as a day to help the hungry and the poor. Most people know Mardi Gras as the last extravagant day before Lent. Even the name, Mardi Gras, translates to Fat Tuesday suggesting the last feast of rich food before the self-denial some Christians observe before Easter. However, before it was a day for parties, Mardi Gras started out as hungry day... more

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