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All About Weather 2021

house with torn shingles from a storm

Can you make your home withstand a tornado?

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. How winds interact with buildings Homes affected by...
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La Nina weather model from NOAA

What really is La Nina?

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...
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a microburst storm in the sky

What is a Microburst?

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...
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Rain and Acid: That's not a rock band

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” ...
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fall leaves during sunrise

The fall equinox marks the transition from summer to autumn

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...
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aerial photo of hurricane moving toward east coast of United States

Hurricanes are nature's heat pumps

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...
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hazy sky

What is that lazy, crazy haze?

Growing up, we would listen to the local radio station at breakfast. In addition to the news, they would play songs from the great crooners of the time, including Nat King Cole. One of his songs is The Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days of Summer. As I look out my window, the sky has a milky...
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cloudy skies over town

Some myths about the weather

When I talk to groups about the weather, I usually first open things up for any question someone may have on the subject. A lot of times I get similar questions, so I thought I would address some of those questions in this post. How do landscapes affect storms? One question I get is whether...
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Corn Field

How does corn affect Midwest weather?

As I write this article, corn has tasseled on about 80% of fields in Central Illinois. Apologies to those with corn pollen allergies! Corn, just like other plants, experiences evapotranspiration (ET)Evapotranspiration is when water is taken up by corn...
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What are feels-like temperatures?

I have some pet peeves about weather casts. Temperature is one of them. During the summer when it gets hot and muggy, we start seeing weathercasters talk about “feels-like” temperatures. Media folks assume we know how they got those temperatures, which are always higher in summer than...
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photo of weather map

Quiz: How well do you know weather?

Game shows are on the rebound. Shows that were around in the 1960s and '70s like "To Tell the Truth" and "Match Game" are back on air, along with "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" from the ’90s and the solid, never-went-away "Jeopardy."  Since there seems to be a renewed interest in trivia...
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How to read a weather map

We watch the news, search the web, or go to the weather app to see what the great outdoors is like at the moment and what it will be for the next few days. You may go ahead and look at the weather map. It typically has many lines, symbols and colors. Any idea what it all means? A few...
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raindrops on puddles

Breathe in that sweet smell of rain

If you’ve been outside and experienced those first drops of rain, especially after a dry spell, you know that smell. You might even be able to sense the smell a little before it starts to rain, a signal that rain is coming. Even after a rain, a sweet musty odor will linger for some time. A few...
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