Weather Whisperers

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About this Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to "Weather Whispers" by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather--from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these blog posts. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.

September 18, 2017

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? See our 2017 fall foliage forecast. Fall Foliage Forecast 2017 For the first time in years, we have a glorious fall foliage forecast! The drought has subsided, our summer was mild, and the leaves are healthy.  Last year (2016), while the Great Plains and Midwest have had good rains, the East and West were dry. So, the leaf... more

June 16, 2017

What is a rainbow? Most everyone has seen a rainbow sometime in their life, but do you know how rainbows are actually formed? Here’s an explanation. What is a Rainbow? To put it plainly, rainbows are reflections of sunlight through raindrops. As the light is reflected, it is refracted, which means that the direction of the light wave is changed. Different wavelengths of light, which we see as colors, bend at different angles and produce a rainbow’s signature color banding, as seen in the... more

June 2, 2017

As I’ve mentioned before, twelve new cloud types were announced this past year. Some of the most interesting are what we call the “special” and accessory clouds … (The photo above shows the “Doomsday” cloud, Undulatus Asperatus, which I shared in my last post on new cloud discoveries.) What’s an accessory cloud? This is a cloud that accompanies another. Believe me, you would rather see the picture than have one coming at you. The new accessory cloud is called a “flumen” and is a low cloud... more

May 22, 2017

My last post celebrated cloud lovers and how they shook the science world with their cell phones. They discovered 12 clouds now listed in the International Cloud Atlas—the first officially recognized in 30 years. Now it’s time to meet these strange new clouds filling the skies.  Clouds recognized since 1986. Source: NOAA. The World Meteorological Organization originally recognized only 10 types (genera) of clouds and organized them by form and height, with genus, species and varieties just... more

May 15, 2017

Reach into your pocket and you will find the newest weather instrument—your cell phone. Thanks to people’s cell pictures, scientists have now discovered 12 new clouds. These are the first new clouds discovered in 30 years.  For a cloud to officially exist, it must be recognized by the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which lists types of clouds in its International Cloud Atlas. This year it published a new edition and for the first time since 1986 has listed new types... more

April 20, 2017

One of the joys of working with weather is that I also work with satellite pictures—to see our beautiful Earth from above. We have all seen the local weather forecasters showing satellite pictures of approaching rains and storms. But most don’t get to see some of the other pictures, especially some of the incredible new nighttime pictures, allowing us to follow the weather day and night. These pictures also show the incredible beauty of the city lights. Check out the recent picture of Europe.... more

March 22, 2017

It was the giant blizzard that was scheduled to paralyze New York City and predicted to become “life-threatening” in Philadelphia.  Local governments responded sensibly. Warnings were issued and road clearing equipment readied. Schools closed. Amtrak canceled and modified its service while airlines canceled more than 5,000 flights. Then the storm hit—and missed. Fortunately, the brunt of it did not hit the vulnerable cities. Instead, the whole system hit further west and north, into areas... more

March 13, 2017

What a magical sight! Dry, barren deserts are blooming with millions of flowers, drowning the land with lush colors. Other climates have the luxury of flowers blooming throughout the year. In western deserts, this is all concentrated in a few enchanted weeks. The reason, of course, is water. It requires perfect conditions for flowers to bloom. (Ask any frustrated gardener.) There has to be enough water to nourish the plant and warm enough weather for the plant and bloom not to freeze. Later... more

March 7, 2017

It’s time to celebrate being Irish (or pseudo-Irish) and look for that pot of gold waiting for you at the end of the rainbow. I can’t help you with the Irish gig, but I can discuss rainbows. I can also pass on a Central European secret for how to get to the pot of gold. This is the season to start seeing rainbows, whether you are in Ireland or Texas. The heated air from the South is expanding north and mixing with the cold air remaining from winter—producing spring storms. The combination of... more

March 1, 2017

Who knew Californians might be calling the five dry years of drought “The Good Old Days”? The state is being slammed by flying “Atmospheric Rivers”—rivers in the sky. The state is floundering in rain, snow, floods and mudslides. Roads are washing out. Dams are threatening to fail. Hundreds of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate.  Californians needed some rain, but this is ridiculous. The old proverb “Big Droughts are ended by Big Floods” is proving disastrously true. Plumes... more

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