John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms. John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold. When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading. John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.
- Member for
- 3 years 8 months
It has been very windy lately. Since Nov. 28, there have been seven days with wind gusts greater than 40 mph. Five of those were greater than 50 mph. The strongest measured gust was Wednesday morning, Dec. 13, at 63 mph. Wind speed is a product of two forces: the pressure gradient force and friction. Lately, the upper-level wind has been flowing north to south mostly right over our heads (some 34,000 feet up), sending us a steady barrage of low-pressure systems in the lower atmosphere. These little lows have been causing rapid changes in air pressure, leading to frequent windy days.
WCI = 35.74 + 0.6215T - 35.75V+0.16 + 0.4275TV+0.16 where T is the air temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, V is the wind velocity in miles per hour. This awkward-looking equation is the formula for the wind chill Index. The numbers in the equation come from statistical analysis of experiments designed to equate the cooling effect on exposed human skin of temperature and wind combined and temperature alone. Unfortunately, this is a classic "apples to oranges" comparison. It is a fact that most people do not understand wind chill and regularly misuse it.
The polar vortex is not a storm. It is the permanent circulation pattern that surrounds the poles of the Earth. Several times a year, the northern polar vortex transitions between stronger and weaker phases. When the polar vortex is positive, high pressure is stronger over the polar region which keeps the general circulation relatively flat so that weather systems move more or less in a west to east fashion. This keeps the coldest air locked up in the high latitudes.
Tonight is the latest incarnation of the Supermoon! Unfortunately, it will likely be cloudy, but it's nothing to fret about. A so-called Supermoon is when the full moon happens at or near its closest approach to Earth. The moon's orbit is not circular, but elliptical, so its distance from Earth varies by about 30,000 miles. This results in about a 14 percent variance in the apparent size of the moon and about a 30 percent variance in the brightness. However, the full moon is always very bright, making this difference not all that noticeable.
Last Tuesday, a peak gust of 51 mph was measured at Hector Airport, only to be topped by a 54 mph gust the next day. Eight days in November had peak wind gusts of greater than 40 mph. Fargo Moorhead is a windy place, but it has been extraordinarily windy lately. People often ask if our city is windier than Chicago, the "Windy City." Actually, the Chicago area is not nearly as windy as the Red River Valley. In fact, the moniker, "Windy City" was given by Eastern newspaper editorial writers reacting to claims of Chicago's rapid rise from the ashes following the Chicago Fire.
November brought us an almost perfectly average daily mean temperature, but it did so by being much colder than average early in the month and much warmer than average late in the month. The average daily high was about 37 degrees and the average daily low about 19. This is about average. The coldest high temperature was 17 on Nov. 9. The warmest was 54 on Nov. 20 and 27. The 27th tied the record set in 1899. It was 4 degrees Nov. 7 and 9th. These were the coldest nights of the month. The warmest was on the 24th when the low was 35.
The past couple of weeks brought cold and snowy weather to Alaska and mild, dry weather to the Northern Plains. This is likely to flip-flop soon, meaning cold weather is coming. The forecast change is due to a developing switch to the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). When the AO is in the positive phase, there is high pressure near the North Pole and lower pressure at generally our latitude. This pattern locks Arctic air in the Arctic, particularly in winter.
Today marks the day of the average first subzero temperature of the season in Fargo-Moorhead. Our first subzero reading often occurs shortly after our first significant snowfall. Although it is possible to get temperatures below zero without there being snow, it is much easier if there is snow on the ground due to the radiative properties of white snow. A classic example of this was back in 2010 when the weather quickly turned colder after a very fluffy 12 inches of snow fell on Nov. 22.
For as long as our weather remains relatively mild, there are opportunities to see the beautiful night sky with a lot less suffering than when the weather is frigid. Although November and December weather brings a lot of cloudy nights, there is a lot to see when the stars are visible. Orion, "the hunter," arguably the greatest of the constellations, is absolutely brilliant in the southern sky.
Of the 25 days this month, six have been sunny or mostly sunny, 12 have been partly cloudy and seven have been cloudy. In terms of percentages, this is about 25 percent sunny, 48 percent partly cloudy and 27 percent cloudy. This is adds up to a somewhat sunnier November than average. November and December are, together, the cloudiest months of our year. On average, these two months bring overcast skies on about 55 percent of the days and partly cloudy skies on about 25 percent of the days, leaving only about 20 percent of the days sunny.