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Thunderstorm clouds with lightning strike over rural area with corn fields.

What does the startling, sharp cracking sound of thunder mean?

While I was home from college one summer, an early morning thunderstorm passed over our farmhouse. I was in my room, trying to sleep through the storm, while my parents were in the living room. At the peak of the storm, a tremendous boom rattled the house. I then heard my parents frantically moving...
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Stormy clouds over country roads

What is atmospheric stability?

As I reflect, it was Severe Weather Preparedness Week— March 6-10, 2023. We have already had severe weather this year, but it will become more frequent now that spring is around the corner. Sometimes when thunderstorms are forecast, you will hear weathercasters talking about the atmosphere being...
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fog covering over grassy area and small lake

No two fogs are the same

We are bound to have fog from time to time. I still remember when I was in my late teens and insisted on going to see some friends when I could barely see the edge of the road. My parents were not happy. Some areas, such as San Francisco or London, have fog more often. The cause of fog can depend...
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Raindrops hitting top of clear umbrella

Rolling on an atmospheric river and the Pineapple Express

California has recently been slammed with extreme rainfall and snow in the high elevations, along with high winds. Media have attributed these events to an atmospheric river, but what does that mean? What is an atmospheric river? The ones that affect California occur when the polar jet stream...
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sun shining through forest trees on snowy winter path

Why is winter solstice the beginning of astronomical winter?

You may have heard weathercasters saying that December 1 is the beginning of meteorological winter. However, the calendar says winter starts on December 21. Why are there two dates? Meteorogical vs Astronomical winter December 1 is called the beginning of meteorological winter because we often...
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Glowing sun behind trees spilling rays of light over a grassy late summer meadow

What are the Dog Days of Summer?

As we move through August, some folks will reference it as being the “dog days.” What are they talking about? We associate these “dog days” with hot weather. But it does not refer to living dogs being uncomfortable in the heat. Instead, the term is associated with a bright star called Sirius (not...
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