What does 50% Chance of Rain Really Mean?

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “It must be nice to get paid to be wrong all the time”….I’d have a good looking savings account! My job also focuses on the reconstruction of past weather events, rather than forecasting…but that’s another topic altogether. A recent Tiktok (a video-sharing social media app, for anyone who is unfamiliar with it) reminded me of one of the biggest communication problems meteorologists face…and why so many people might think we are “wrong all the time.”

Continue reading “What does 50% Chance of Rain Really Mean?”

Top 10 Hurricane FAQs – What you Need to Know

It’s that time again…in less than a week, we will be in hurricane season once again! Today’s blog concludes our series of hurricane related content, but you can always find any of our previous posts on hurricanes here! We’ve covered topics such as how to prepare for power outages, what a “typical” hurricane season looks like, what hazards arise from tropical storms, the effect of hurricanes on mental health, and more! Today we want to focus on some questions that meteorologists are frequently asked about hurricanes and hurricane season.

Continue reading “Top 10 Hurricane FAQs – What you Need to Know”

What is Graupel? A Refresher on Wintry Precipitation

On more than one occasion last fall, my husband and I watched players and sports reporters alike grappling with the precipitation that was occurring before or during the Cleveland Browns football game. The FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Browns, is located on the southern shore of Lake Erie and is no stranger to wild weather. News reporters struggled to identify the precipitation type…sleet? Snow? Freezing rain? Hail? All good guesses, but the correct answer was actually graupel…which many meteorologists on Twitter were quick to point out.

Fans during the November 1, 2020 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Photo Courtesy Brent Durken/Cleveland Browns.
Continue reading “What is Graupel? A Refresher on Wintry Precipitation”

Understanding the Strength of Tropical Storms: Pressure, Winds, and Surge

One week ago today, Hurricane Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana…a community whose residents are no stranger to the devastation of tropical storms. Category 3 Hurricane Audrey caused over 300 deaths in the small town in 1957, and nearly 50 years later, the town was struck again. While everyone fortunately evacuated before Category 5 Hurricane Rita, the storm devastated the town in September 2005. Then, in the midst of recovery from Rita, in came Hurricane Ike, leveling the town with a 12 foot storm surge. Ike destroyed over 90% of the homes within the parish and caused catastrophic flooding in every part of the parish. The damage sustained by both Rita and Ike led to stricter building codes and higher insurance costs, leading to the town’s dramatic reduction in population – from 1,965 people in 2000 to just 406 in 2010.

Credit: NOAA
Continue reading “Understanding the Strength of Tropical Storms: Pressure, Winds, and Surge”

H is for Haboob

After writing a blog on derechos, I thought it could be a fun idea for a series, where I write about unique weather events that start with different letters of the alphabet! To carry on with the theme, this week’s fun weather word is “haboob,” which is an intense sandstorm or duststorm caused by strong winds, with sand and/or dust often lofted as high as 5,000 feet (!!) creating a “wall of dust” along the leading edge of the haboob.

Continue reading “H is for Haboob”

D is for Derecho

Just a couple of months after a devastating tornado tore across Nashville, Mother Nature had another blow for Music City. Late in the evening on Saturday, May 1, a complex of severe thunderstorms developed across southern Kansas. They continued tracking east through Missouri and western Kentucky over the next morning before finally reaching central Tennessee by the afternoon.

Shelf cloud approaching Hwy109 at I-40 near Lebanon, TN on May 3, 2020
photo by NWS Nashville meteorologist Brendan Schaper
Continue reading “D is for Derecho”

Weather map symbols: What are they, and what do they mean?

This post was inspired by a fantastic article which was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) in December 2019 by Dr. Robert Houze of the University of Washington, and his daughter, Rebecca Houze.

I will never forget one of the first times I felt as an undergraduate that I had really arrived at the point where I was learning ‘real meteorology’. As an applied science, meteorology has a lot of core class requirements, including calculus and differential equations, physics, and chemistry. Thus, it is very easy to get bogged down in all of the prerequisites and lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel- learning about the science of weather that drove you into those classes in the first place. For me, that light at the end of the tunnel was an introductory weather and forecasting class which I took during the spring semester of my sophomore year. In that class, we did a lot of hands-on work plotting weather maps, which was something I really enjoyed. Actually, looking at data on weather maps and figuring out what it means is STILL one of my favorite parts of my job today!

Surface analysis at 7:00 AM on March 13, 1993 (the Blizzard of 1993). Courtesy: NOAA/WPC.
Continue reading “Weather map symbols: What are they, and what do they mean?”

Ask Me Anything: Weather for Students

Hi guys! Welcome to our first Ask Me Anything, where we reached out to students of all ages to ask what their biggest questions about the weather were. We received some great questions, and we are so excited to answer them here!

Please feel free to ask questions at any time by filling out our question form, and we will be sure to answer them at a future AMA event!

Continue reading “Ask Me Anything: Weather for Students”

Counting down to the Spring (Vernal) Equinox

In just one week, spring will have officially arrived in the Northern Hemisphere! Although the winter here in upstate New York has been relatively mild in terms of temperatures, the frequency of days on which a cold rain has occurred has me anxiously awaiting the increased sunshine and longer days to come in the next few months. Although we wrote a blog post last year on why we have the seasons, I thought it would be fun to look at some little known facts about the spring, or vernal equinox.

Continue reading “Counting down to the Spring (Vernal) Equinox”