Weather Blogs

January 6, 2017

While the year brought flooding and other extreme events, 2016 was one of the quietest years for tornadoes. This certainly does not mean 2017 will be the same. The question is: What creates a quiet tornado season? Look to our warm oceans. The Tropical Pacific was unusually warm during the 2016 season. For tornadoes, this is a good thing. Warm currents and air suppresses tornado activity. Think of the ocean like a giant bath tub with water sloshing or oscillating back and forth. Not to... more

December 22, 2016

A new year is always ripe with possibilities. Though we have our forecasts, we also enjoy the tradition of looking to winter weather folklore. New Year’s Weather Folklore In particular, weather folklore often looks to the wind. Try this. Step outside as the sun sets on New Year’s Eve. Feel the wind and recite: If New Year’s Eve the wind blows south It betokens warmth and growth. If west, much milk and fish in the sea. If north, cold and storms there will be. If east, the trees will... more

December 12, 2016

It’s December—time for the longest night of the year. With so little warming sunlight, it will be the coldest day of the year. Right? It depends where live! California, your coldest days are in December! Massachusetts, your coldest days are in January!  See the map below showing when coldest weather usually hits different parts of the USA. Notice a pattern?  Winter cold sneaks up on the West right away. It usually waits until January to hit most of the East. Up around the Great Lakes,... more

December 5, 2016

Why does the U.S. get hit with Arctic air? The media calls it the “polar vortex.” Here’s everything you need to know—in one short page. The Arctic Oscillation (AO) is the blasting polar jet stream that circles the Arctic air mass. If it is strong, it keeps all that cold where it belongs—up in the Arctic Circle, making life interesting for the Canadians and Siberians. If it is weak, it lets all the frigid air escape south, and we get hit with a blast of winter misery.  ♫ When the wind breaks... more

November 28, 2016

The latest figures are out. As of end of 2016, more than half of the continental U.S. is dry or in drought. And it’s not expected to end. The dryness is not scattered. It is focused in three areas—the West, the South and the Northeast. What’s worse, the government really doesn’t see much room for improvement. They expect long sunny days and dead, brown lawns. Ouch! The US has three long, hard and dry strikes against it. Source: NOAA   Last year and this year through May, we had a... more

November 21, 2016

What happens when all this warm November air meets a cold front? The potential for fierce storms and crazy weather! So far, fall 2016 has been toasty. Of course, there have been occasional storms, but overall, October and November were unusually warm in most of the US.  Most of the United States has been warmer than average this fall. Source: NOAA This is hardly surprising. The Atlantic Ocean has been very warm this year, especially over the past few months. The Pacific Ocean waters off... more

October 26, 2016

Can you imagine trick or treating among the flowers in May?  Back on the 13th of May of 609 A.D., the Catholic feast of “All Martyrs Day” was established. It was eventually moved to November 2 (probably to blend and supplant the older Celtic festival of “Samhaim”) and later renamed “All Soul’s Day” or “All-hallows.” The night before, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween! It’s just interesting to think about how... more

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

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