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    It’s summer. It’s baseball season. Millions of people attend Major League games, just waiting for their favorite hitter to knock one into the seats. Fans contend with afternoon games that may be hot and muggy or just simply hot. I once went to a Rangers game while attending a conference where the temperature at the start of the game was 103°. 

    Does it make a difference what the weather is like for hitting home runs? You often hear broadcasters talking about the “heavy air” on a muggy day. Does muggy air reduce the chances of a home run?

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    Earth’s atmosphere, while it appears to go forever, is actually a very thin layer of air. Technically the atmosphere reaches out for thousands of miles, but over half of the atmosphere is within 4 miles of the earth’s surface. Think about driving 4 miles- it’s not very far. By the time you’re 16 miles up, 98 percent of the atmosphere is below you. Again, not a big distance. At the upper end of this lies a concentration of a gas that protects life on earth. Without this gas, very little life would be able to survive.  This gas is called ozone. It works to prevent

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    I don’t know about you, but this Ap

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    When thunderstorms are predicted for your area, weathercasters will often include information on the severity of projected storms. What does this information mean?

    What makes a thunderstorm severe?

    The National Weather Service defines a severe thunderstorm as any storm that produces one or more of the following elements:

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    Mississippi and Alabama were recently hammered with severe storms and large-scale tornadoes. The damage that large high-speed tornadoes can cause is phenomenal and life-threatening.

    Many have heard of the “F-Scale” or “EF-Scale” of tornado intensity. The F stands for Fujita, last name of the scientist that developed the scale.

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    If you ever take a few minutes to watch what happens to clouds in the sky, especially in March, you’ll see many puffy shaped clouds form and fall apart. You’ll see these clouds at other times of the year, but they are around a lot in March and April.

    What clouds are puffy?

    Cumulus clouds form within a few hundred to few thousand feet above ground. They form from surface heating of the earth. Imagine a bunch of air bubbles being warmed by the land below them and acting like hot air balloons. 

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    The title doesn’t work as well as Beware the Ides of March, but the sentiment is the same. If we experience dew point temperatures in the 50s or 60s in March, just be wary that the chance for severe weather is high.

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    Ominous clouds and an approaching storm may be accompanied by the wail of a community siren. Other times they can be heard in the morning on what may be a nice day. What do the different blasts of the siren mean?

    Sirens are part of the Public Alert System to let those outdoors be aware of a local or national emergency. Originally designed for civil defense, sirens are also commonly used in the Midwest and other locations to alert people of severe weather.

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    A large underwater volcano recently erupted in the South Pacific. Volcanoes can send huge amounts of gases and ash into the atmosphere. Very large eruptions can affect the climate.

    In 1815, one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in the last several thousand years occurred in the South Pacific. The following year was known as the Year without a Summer in the fledgling nation of the United States. Snow events occurred on the east coast in mid-summer. Western Europe had a very cold summer as well. 

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    In December, I provided a weather quiz post, the second one I’ve done. Here are the answers. How did you do this time? Let me know! We’ll try another quiz later in the year.

     

    1. True or False, the United States experiences a monsoon. 

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    If someone is sad that holiday season is over, here is something to celebrate.  The earth is the closest it will ever be to the sun for the year! 

    We all know the earth revolves around the sun. It takes about 365.25 days to do this, or one year.

    However, that revolution (or orbit) is not a perfect circle. Instead, it’s slightly elongated or elliptical, which means the earth is farther from the sun at one time and closer at another.

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    Seeing the tragic consequences of the December tornado outbreak in the Midwest, I’m sure many folks are wondering if there are ways to make homes more resistant to wind damage, whether it’s straight-line winds or tornadoes. The answer is yes.

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    A few months ago, I posted a quiz with several weather questions for people to try to answer. It seemed to go over well, so here is round two. I’ll post the answers in a few weeks.

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    You’ve probably heard these weather terms many times - El Nino and La Nina. They seem to affect our weather and they come and go. Are they normal to occur? Where do they occur? Why does it affect our weather?

    What is La Nina?

    In this post, I’ll focus on La Nina since that is what will likely affect our 2021-22 winter weather.

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    As I write this, folks just a few miles away are sawing up downed trees and clearing debris from severe wind damage that occurred during a round of thunderstorms passing through the area the night before.

    No tornado was observed either by eye or on radar, so it appears to have been caused by straight-line winds. However, the worst of the damage was confined to a narrow area and is over a mile long. The relatively small area of damage may have been due to a microburst, a localized area of strong downward air that hits the ground and spreads out.

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    Looking at the title sounds almost like a 60s rock band, doesn’t it?

    Actually, I want to talk about precipitation. You’ve probably heard about acid rain and the environmental concerns associated with it. What it really should be called is “precipitation that is more acidic than normal” because precipitation is naturally slightly acidic. First, let’s give some background on what acidity is.

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    We're moving into fall and looking ahead, the outlook for winter temperatures continues the trend toward warmer temperatures.  

     

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    The passage of summer to fall happens this year on September 22, which is called the September or Autumnal Equinox.

    What is an Equinox and why do we use it?

    Equinox basically means “equal night.” It comes from a couple of Latin words. We have two equinoxes yearly, one in March (the March or Spring Equinox) and the other one in September.

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    At the writing of this post on September 2, we are in the average peak week of hurricane activity for the Gulf of Mexico. Remnants of hurricane Ida are drenching the East Coast, and a new hurricane is currently out in the Atlantic.

    The Earth’s weather is a complex system of winds, moisture, and heat. Hurricanes are a good example of all of these. They move huge amounts of heat from the hot tropics to the milder middle latitudes.

    What makes them form, and how do they move heat? I’m so glad you asked!

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    A tornado near Kirkland, Ill., on August 9. Photo by Gord Houghtby.

    About 6:30 p.m.