Global weather patterns are strongly influenced by the location and strength of warm and cold pools of ocean water. Remember that approximately 71% of the Earth is covered with water, and that water retains heat.
When that heat is released into the atmosphere, warmer areas of sea water promote lower pressure in the air above. And, the ocean water temperature patterns change slowly. This results in the areas where weather patterns become “anchored” until the underlying ocean water temperatures change.
By observing changes in the ocean water temperature patterns, we can see where areas of low and high pressure may be anchored now, and where they may shift. This helps guide us in our long ranger forecasting thought process.
This year, we are seeing a cooling of the water off the North Pacific coast of the United States, while seeing a warming trend along the Northeast coast. Here is a picture of the ocean patterns one year ago…
And the patterns today.
One thing IQ Weather focuses on is correctly interpreting data, historical context, and understanding when you are only getting part of the story.
Over the summer months, there was a focus on the hot weather over the western United States, the wildfires, and dry weather. In recent weeks, there has been a focus on hurricanes…since it’s hurricane season. There are constant claims that we are living in unprecedented times from a climate perspective, and people use snippets of science reports to back up these claims.
The truth is that all of the things we heard about this past year have happened in the past. Both weather, and climate are cyclical. The most important climate cycles are tied to the energy received by the sun…and the changes in that energy over time. There are some solar cycles that will last up to 100,000 years. A 30-year average means nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Remember, satellite data only goes back to 1979…and...
Today, IQ Weather’s science blog discusses the miracle of water.
Water is something we use every day. We drink it, wash things in it, bathe in it, swim in it, and all the while probably don’t think about how important it is to life on earth!
Water can exist in three different forms at the same time; gas, solid, and liquid. The point at where all three can exist is called the “triple point”. And water’s triple point temperature falls within a range that makes our planet’s temperature livable. If it did not, earth would be a very different place!
Water stores and releases heat as it changes from one form to another. When water is boiled it must absorb enough heat for the water molecules to turn to a vapor. When that vapor cools, it releases the heat that is absorbed back into the air. And when water freezes, it releases the heat that it took to keep it in liquid form. And when ice is melted, it absorbs heat to return to liquid form. In these...
Recent reports of flooding rains in Tennessee and the torrential downpours from Hurricane Ida, and its remnants, brings the topic of flash flooding to IQ Weather.
September is the midpoint of hurricane season in the northern hemisphere.
Of course, hurricanes and tropical storms are very heavy rain producers, and there is always a threat for flash flooding with them. That is because they form over warm ocean water and, as a result, contain massive amounts of water vapor that can turn back into rain. Plus, tropical storm systems move rather slowly, so it takes a while for them to move over any one area. The slow movement increases the potential for rainfall dramatically.
It’s not uncommon for a tropical storm or hurricane to produce 20 to 30 inches of rain over any one location. In 2001, Hurricane Allison produced up to 40 inches of rain!
Water is a non-compressible fluid. It can produce enormous pressure on anything in its path. For example, water...
Now that we have passed the mid-point of summer, and heading rapidly toward meteorological fall on September 1st, the daylight is starting to become noticeably shorter across the United States.
As of today, August 2nd, the amount of daylight loss ranges from about 1 minute in south Florida, to about 30 minutes in northern Alaska!
We talk a lot about the sun’s impact on weather, and the longer daylight hours during the summer months make it easier for the atmosphere to stay warm and heat up quickly each day.
But, as the daylight begins to shorten and the sun angle lowers, it allows the heat of the summer to begin to back off slowly.
The oceans store enormous amounts of heat, and because they release that heat slowly, there is a lag time between the longest days and the hottest days of summer. That is why the weather stays relatively warm even into the autumn months.
What we love here at IQ Weather is how the summer evenings can remain so bright even after the sun has dropped...
IQ Weather is on the move this summer!
We are working with school districts, private and parochial schools, and homeschool groups to provide the best weather/science course in America!
We recently were added as an educational resource for science with Prager University for Kids! Look for us in the Math and Science section on the second line (there is a drop-down caret).
We are also attending the largest homeschool convention in America in Cincinnati Ohio. If you plan on attending, look for us at booth 1033 from August 12th-14th at the Duke Energy Center for the Great Homeschool Convention! That will be a lot of fun and give us a chance to meet you!
We have been talking to a number of schools around the country this summer to find out how they like to utilize science curriculum and have found that IQ Weather checks all the boxes.
When we were developing our weather course, we thought about all the ways it could be used. We do not “talk down” to students…we...
During the summer months, storm patterns and tracks shift farther northward. By mid-summer, the threat for severe storms weakens and shifts to the central and northern plains states and the upper Midwest.
The impact of the longer duration of daylight is to warm the atmosphere enough to cause the jet stream pattern northward. As you may recall from our IQ Weather lessons, the jet stream is a main ingredient for strong storm formation.
When the jet stream drifts farther north and weakens during the summer months, severe weather becomes less frequent.
As the end of summer approaches, and the overall atmosphere begins to cool, the jet stream will typically begin to drift back southward slowly. That sets up a second min-severe weather season in the autumn.
Summertime is also the early part of the hurricane season! As of today, we have had 5 named storms so far. The peak of hurricane season is in September, and hurricane season does not end until the last day of November. As you...
In the world of weather, it is often feast or famine! In today’s IQ Weather blog, we can see both at work at the same time!
Those of you have taken our course understand the huge influence that the oceans play in setting up weather patterns. Our current La Nina ocean pattern is weakening, but is still helping to lock a drought into place over the southwestern United States. The U.S. Drought Monitor keeps track of long-term drought severity, and here is a look at the latest areas of drought in the U.S.
Once this ocean pattern shifts a bit, and continues to weaken, hopefully we’ll see some rain returning to this parched area of the country. The satellite picture shows this area of drought, and since it is so dry, there is very little moisture to turn into clouds. Once a drought gets going, it can take a long time to reverse the trends.
Since January the area of drought has slipped a bit farther to the west. Here is how the situation looked early this...
During the spring and summer months, as the air heats up, the chance for storms climbs. But how do you know if the air is hot enough to create thunderstorms? IQ Weather knows!
One tool that meteorologists use is the data that comes from weather balloons. In fact, lesson number 23 in our weather course takes you on a field trip to a National Weather Service balloon launch so you can see where this information comes from! We call the end product and upper air sounding!
Upper air soundings, give us a lot of information about the air overhead, including a variety of indices that we use to measure the risk for severe weather. The temperature and humidity profile is plotted on a graph called a Skew T. Today, we are going to focus on two pieces of data that can, when tell you how hot the air must become for storms to develop, and whether or not that is likely.
The first bit of information on the sounding that we’ll focus on is called the MaxT, or forecast maximum...
Storms are a big part of springtime weather! And we are heading into a more active part of the spring storm season. That means the weatherperson on TV will be talking about the threat of hail, heavy rains, high winds, and even tornadoes.
For some, storm season is a time of worry and fear. But at IQ Weather, we believe that understanding storms helps to overcome some of those fears.
In our lesson on storms, we talk about some of the signs that indicate when storms are about to become severe in your neighborhood. We also talk about why some parts of the storm that look the scariest…are really not the most dangerous part of the storm!
Here is a small excerpt from our lesson on storms:
“Hail size is also a good indicator of the strength of a storm. The larger the hail, the stronger the updraft inside a storm! Updrafts that are capable of producing softball sized hail can exceed 100 mph! And, the larger the hailstone…the faster it falls to the...