Fall Weather Safety

At the time of this writing, I am enjoying a beautiful train ride along the Hudson River between New York City and Albany. Although the sun is shining and temperatures are in the 70s, some early hints of fall color are showing up on the Catskills to the west. Fall typically is not a time when most of us have ‘hazardous weather’ on our minds, especially here in the northeast U.S. where fall can be one of the most idyllic times of year. However, weather hazards can present themselves in any season, and fall is no exception.

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What is NOAA, and what is its mission?

Many of us turn to the National Weather Service for weather warnings and forecasts, but did you know that the National Weather Service is only one part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA? Our tax dollars help to fund this agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, so let’s look deeper at the mission of this very important organization and its offices.

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Weather in the News: July and August 2019

As we change the calendar to a new month, it seems like a good time to review how meteorology has made news headlines this summer. While the weather often makes the news as a front-page headline when there is a high-impact event, the work that meteorologists and other scientists do on a day-to-day basis can help to keep the public safe, project changes in climate that can lead to positive changes in public policy, and engage with schoolchildren and teachers to encourage learning in the field of meteorology. This week, we highlight just a sampling of the many ways that weather, climate, and meteorology has made news headlines recently:

Land-surface temperatures across Europe and Northern Africa, July 25, 2019. Courtesy: WMO.
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Collaborative Citizen Science

Did you know that there are millions of everyday citizens across the world that are helping advance science in a wide variety of disciplines? These citizen scientists (a term that refers to everyday citizens who are intrigued by and passionate about science, but don’t necessarily have a formal scientific background) collaborate with scientists to expand opportunities for scientific data collection and to advance research in nearly every field! Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, notes that “By encouraging everyday Americans to engage in scientific research, our citizen science authorities benefit communities and the country as a whole, as well as advance our science and technology enterprise.” Whether you are interested in public health, astronomy, biology, ornithology (the study of birds!), meteorology, or pretty much anything you can think of…there is likely a project for you!

Three citizen scientists strolling along a sidewalk in Boulder, Colorado to gather data on Earth’s magnetic field using the CrowdMag cellphone app. Photo courtesy: Jennifer Taylor, CIRES
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National Parks and Severe Weather

At this point in midsummer, it is hard NOT to have the outdoor bug, and many of us in the U.S. will head to our National Parks to enjoy the outdoors in a variety of ways. Did you know that Yellowstone was the first National Park, established in 1872? President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) is possibly the most well-known supporter of the development of the National Park System; during his terms in office, the number of National Parks doubled. The legislation known as the Antiquities Act, which he signed into law, gave him and future presidents the ability to declare historic landmarks and national monuments, many of which are part of the National Park System today. At our wide array of National Parks, Seashores, Reserves, Battlefields, Monuments, and Historic Sites, visitors can learn about the history and culture of our country, as well as enjoy and appreciate the huge variety of climates and beautiful scenery that exist in the United States.

Canyonlands National Park. Credit: NPS/Neal Herbert.
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The Pollen Count: How Weather Conditions Affect Seasonal Allergies

As I sit here writing this week’s blog post, I continue to hope that *writing* about springtime will mean that actual springlike weather conditions will occur outside my (deceptively) sunny window. Now that it is April, seasonal allergies are in full swing for many, even up into the northern parts of the United States where full leaf-out is still a few weeks away (see our blog post on phenology for more information on that). Although most of us allergy sufferers are fully aware that there is a seasonal pattern to allergies, it is less commonly known why some seasons are just terrible, while others aren’t as bad.

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Spring Equinox and the National Phenology Network

Spring officially began at 5:58 PM EDT yesterday, and for many of us across the country, it can’t come soon enough. Although the weather may not yet feel like spring (portions of the Northeast US may see accumulating snow within the next few days!), we can definitely notice a difference in the sun. Did you know that the sun angle we see now is the same sun angle we see in mid-October? We are also seeing the days lengthen by about 3 minutes per day in upstate New York (the exact time differs slightly from place to place).

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Spring Thaws and Maple Syrup

Fall foliage in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

When most people think of maple trees in the Northeast, the image above comes to mind: a beautiful array of striking colors at their peak in September and October. But for some people, maple trees conjure up another image- the muddy, springtime season of maple sugaring. Maple sugaring season begins in the early spring, just as the trees are beginning to wake up from a long, cold winter.

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Can volcanoes affect the weather?

At the time of this writing, news outlets are reporting of the deadly tsunami, or tidal wave, that was triggered by the collapse of the Krakatoa volcano in Indonesia. While a tsunami is not itself a meteorological event (and can be discussed in more detail in a later post), the National Weather Service does have two branches, the National Tsunami Warning Center and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which are responsible for monitoring the oceans for conditions which may trigger a tsunami. Continue reading “Can volcanoes affect the weather?”