The Weather Is About to Make Your World Much Louder (and More Annoying)

Dennis Mersereau · 11/02/15 08:30AM

Fall is getting off to a slow start this year. It gets cool for a couple of days, then it warms right back up (not that that’s a bad thing!). As the cool days outnumber the warm, though, you’ll begin to notice a lot more noise at night and in the morning, and it’s all thanks to the weather.

Heat Lightning Does Not Exist

Dennis Mersereau · 07/28/15 01:10PM

One of the best ways to spend a summer evening is to stand outside and watch a distant storm, the soft rumbles of thunder distracting you from the mosquitoes eating you alive. The most well-known part of these summertime thunderstorms is a phenomenon known as “heat lightning,” which doesn’t really exist.

Nerdin' It Up: How to Find Instability by Hand on a SKEW-T Chart

Dennis Mersereau · 05/22/15 04:56PM

Today’s the Friday before a three-day weekend, and just about everyone is checked-out until the day after Memorial Day. Since it’s just you and me around these parts, how about we get our nerd on while nobody’s looking? By popular request, here’s an explainer on how to analyze instability a SKEW-T chart by hand.

Explaining Anvils, the Incredible Cloud Formations That Engulf the Sky

Dennis Mersereau · 05/20/15 03:58PM

We’ve all gawked at beautiful clouds before, but we never really think about how those clouds formed. One of the most beautiful sights in nature is a huge thunderstorm bubbling up on the horizon, smacking the top of the atmosphere and spreading out like a giant umbrella. Here’s a look at how these anvils form.

Here's an In-Depth Look at the Tornado That Destroyed Fairdale, Illinois

Dennis Mersereau · 04/14/15 08:30AM

The first violent tornado of the year touched down in north-central Illinois last Thursday, packing winds of up to 200 MPH as it razed the small town of Fairdale. The storm killed two people and injured several more. Here's an in-depth look at the tornadic storm from beginning to end.

Why Is Sleet? How the Atmosphere Turns Snow into an Icy, Frozen Hell

Dennis Mersereau · 02/17/15 04:07PM

With temperatures as low as 15°F, it seems unusual that parts of the south saw sleet and freezing rain instead of snow on Monday. Wintry precipitation isn't always determined by the temperature at the ground. Here's an explainer on how sleet and freezing rain can turn a beautiful snowfall into an icy death match.

What Is a "Trace" of Snow?

Dennis Mersereau · 01/23/15 05:06PM

Rattling off snowfall amounts for various locations around your city is a staple of local news reports, and every so often you'll hear the reporter mention that the local airport saw a "trace" of snow. What exactly is a trace of snow, anyway?

The Vane Explains This Week's Weather: What Is an "Alberta Clipper?"

Dennis Mersereau · 01/19/15 03:49PM

We've had different phrases to talk about specific types of winter storms long before the "polar vortex" became the media's go-to scapegoat for all things snowy and cold. The most well-known type of winter storm is a "nor'easter." Another big winter term is an "Alberta Clipper," and you're going to hear a lot about them this week.

An Ice Storm Is Likely in North Carolina and Virginia Tonight

Dennis Mersereau · 01/13/15 03:45PM

A disruptive ice storm is likely going to unfold across parts of North Carolina and Virginia tonight as a fast-moving disturbance skirts the coast and drops freezing rain. The system threatens to produce significant accretions of ice along I-95 from Florence, S.C. to Richmond, Virginia, making travel impossible at times.

Maps: Parts of N.Y. Could See Five Feet of Lake Effect Snow by Tomorrow

Dennis Mersereau · 01/09/15 04:06PM

A nasty lake effect snow event is cranking up over western New York this afternoon, threatening to dump several feet of snow on communities from Buffalo to Watertown. Towns south of Buffalo could dig out from three feet of snow from the system, while eastern Lake Ontario could see up to five feet of snow in 36 hours.

What Are These Strange, Beautiful Clouds Over Tunisia?

Dennis Mersereau · 12/17/14 04:48PM

A gorgeous picture of a sunset painting brilliant colors over dramatic spirals in a wavy deck of clouds is making the rounds on social media this afternoon. The picture—purportedly taken in Tunisia—is so spectacular that it almost looks photoshopped. Here's an explanation for how these incredible clouds formed.

What Is a "Weather Bomb?" The Vane Explains

Dennis Mersereau · 12/11/14 05:31PM

A major storm in the North Atlantic caused extreme winds and monster waves in the United Kingdom on Wednesday. Scotland's mountainous St. Kilda Island even recorded a 144 MPH wind gust during the height of the storm. People are breathlessly calling this a "weather bomb." What exactly is a weather bomb, anyway?

Your Friday Knowledge Boost: Mexico's Powerful Tehuantepecer Winds

Dennis Mersereau · 11/14/14 01:54PM

When the United States sees a sweeping cold snap like the one we're in now, that cold air doesn't stop at the border. It can continue blowing south into Mexico and race across the Gulf. This cold air can create a powerful jet of wind in southern Mexico known as the Tehuantepecer.

Weather Explainer: What Is a Subtropical Storm?

Dennis Mersereau · 10/10/14 02:12PM

Another day, another explainable weather event. Subtropical Storm Fay is on the cusp of developing in the Atlantic Ocean, and it's likely going to brush Bermuda in a few days. What is a "subtropical storm" and why is it different from a regular ol' tropical storm?

Explaining Microbursts, One of Nature's Most Dangerous Wind Storms

Dennis Mersereau · 10/08/14 01:59PM

A major wind event known as a "microburst" leveled thousands of trees in Easthampton, Massachusetts this morning. Microbursts can create more damage than a weak tornado, and they're responsible for many lethal airplane crashes. What is a microburst and how do they form?