Weather Blogs

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 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 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


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