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.

October 13, 2017

Why does Halloween fit so well with October? It’s just interesting to think about how much weather and daylight affect the whole nature of a celebration. 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... more

October 11, 2017

We all know this hurricane season has been active, but how active? September 2017 was the strongest hurricane month ever recorded. Here’s why. First, know that September is typically the busiest month for North American Atlantic Hurricanes due to the conveyor belt of low-pressure systems moving off Africa’s west coast into the Atlantic reach its greatest strength. Additionally, the Atlantic is at its peak of heat and wind shear is normally low. However, September 2017 crushed the previous... more

October 9, 2017

I sometimes wonder why I am in the climate business. According to folklore, those leaves you have to rake up will tell you all you need to know about winter. Are your chrysanthemums really pretty? Get out the mittens. The birds and bees are not only into sex; apparently, they are weather forecasters as well. The competition for my job is horrendous. Here is a sample of rodent wisdom: Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry, Will cause snow to gather in a hurry. In addition, a tough winter... more

October 4, 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. See our Fall Foliage Map for peak foliage dates! 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... 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

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