gray volcano erupting plume of smoke and ash

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. 

weather map with Q&A icon on top of it

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. 

La Nina weather model from NOAA

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.

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


Corn Field

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 plants, water vapor - the gas form of water - is released into the atmosphere from the leaves while evaporation occurs from the soil, which also adds water vapor to the air. 

storm from two jet streams overlaping

Early spring in Illinois can be a battle between the last of cold winter weather and the mild air of spring. On relatively rare occasions in March, we can experience warm, muggy air that normally doesn’t reach us until April or May. When this occurs early in spring, it’s best to be on guard for severe weather. 

I’m now at the point in my life where I know others look at me and think I’m old. For truth in advertising, I’m currently 61; actually 61 ½, but the pleasure in saying the ½ left many decades ago.

I can talk about my weather experiences with a sense of sage nostalgia. Case in point, I lived through the winters of the late 1970s in Central Illinois. The last three winters of that decade are remembered, though likely not fondly, by anyone who was around.

snowy path

Many people have heard of Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel. He is even more of a weather geek than I am. In February 2011, the Midwest was hit with a very strong winter storm, and Cantore was in in Chicago reporting on its effects there. During one of his broadcasts, when it was snowing like crazy, there was a flash of light followed by thunder. Cantore was jumping around like a kid in a candy store and earned made him the title King of Thundersnow.

weather chart

You’re watching a local weather forecast or checking it online when you notice it says temperatures will be 'above normal or below normal.' But what does this actually mean?

Normal is Average

In most cases, the word 'normal' is used in place of 'average.'

snow-covered polar vortex rural scene with trees

Two words people have learned to dread in the past few years is "polar vortex."  People may not know a lot about what that is, other than it usually means we may be in for some bitterly cold temperatures. 

The worst outbreak in my experience was December 23, 1983. I had just finished my graduate work and was beginning to look for weather-related jobs. So, I was living back at home on the farm. The farmhouse was uninsulated, and my bedroom was upstairs with no heat.