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Published by vicki_mckenna

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Published by: vicki_mckenna on Jul 06, 2012
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07/06/12This is the response to my question to MY FAVORITE METEROLOGIST and adopted staterepresentative Jim Ott on the current heat wave:Hi Jim!I have a weather question!Is there a weather pattern that explains the drought, heat in the mid-atlantic and the storms in theeast?Hi Vicki,The way we normally get excessive heat in Wisconsin is when a part of the subtropical highpressure region (which is a part of what's called the subtropical high pressure belt that extendsaround the entire earth) moves farther north than normal into the Western Atlantic andSoutheastern Untited States. That pushes the jet stream farther north into Canada, and keeps ourwinds aloft out of the southwest. So cooler air is held up in Canada and it's very difficult to get acool front into southern Wisconsin. Usually after a few days or a week the pattern reverts to amore normal one, the high moves back to the south, and the jet stream moves back into thenorthern United States. That allows cooler air masses to move back into Wisconsin every fewdays, and we get our more normal 70s and 80s.As you know these hot spells in Wisconsin normally happen a few times each summer, so weget an average of about 5 to 20 days in the 90s, depending upon how far south and how close youare located to Lake Michigan. The current hot spell has been more intense than usual, I believein part because of the dry conditions that mean there is less water to evaporate from the surface.Evaporating water uses heat energy, and when there is less water more of the heat energy fromthe sun is available to heat the air. So a drought tends to feed on itself, just as very wet periodstend to feed on themselves because there is more water available for evaporation into the air.As for the storms in the east, much of that seemed to be related to the moisture from theremnants of the tropical storm that affected Florida earlier and then gradually drifted up the eastcoast. The tropical storm/hurricane season is considered to begin in June and last throughNovember, because that's the usual time period when ocean temperatures in the Atlantic andGulf are warm enough to produce hurricanes, which is around 82 degrees F.I know this is a much longer answer than you needed but the entire weather process is prettyinteresting.Jim

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