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.
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Sometimes the simplest things can be the most fascinating. The phases of the moon are regular enough, changing from night to night in an endless cycle every month. But if you consider the scale of the thing and the length of the lines of shadow, the whole thing becomes breathtaking. A careful observer of the smaller details of the lunar orbit will find little hidden details, adding to the wonderment.
It's probably a little premature to be thinking about subzero temperatures. However, there is a record of subzero temperatures in Fargo-Moorhead in October. The earliest subzero temperature recorded in Fargo was on Oct. 26, 1919. Three inches of snow on the ground and a clear sky allowed the temperature to sink to minus 4 degrees.
If the sky is clear tonight, there will be a good chance to see some shooting stars. Tonight is the Orionid Meteor Shower, an annual meteor shower caused by Earth passing through the path of Halley's Comet. Although this is not usually the most prolific meteor shower of the year, it is kind of cool because the pebbles and dust particles that flame out high in the atmosphere tonight are actually pieces of perhaps the most famous comet of all.
A WDAY television viewer inquired if the warm weather Thursday was due to a Chinook wind. Not really. A Chinook wind is a warm wind, usually during the winter season, in which dry air is blown down from a mountain. The air is heated by compression as it encounters higher atmospheric pressure as it moves into lower altitudes. The warming Thursday came from a combination of warm air advection (warmer air being blown in) and subsidence compression (downward moving air underneath high pressure aloft causing heating by compression).
The official winter outlook is in, and it has good news for people who dread days of bitter cold and wind chill. The Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a sibling of the National Weather Service, has placed our region in an area indicating a greater than 40 percent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures for December through February. But this outlook needs some explanation.
The first 15 days of October delivered an average daily mean temperature of 38.3 degrees, the coldest first 15 days of October on record (back to 1881). You may recall a similar cold snap this spring. The period of April 1-15 was the second coldest such period on record with an average daily mean of 22.9 degrees. Only the first 15 days of April in 1881 had been colder. Now the good news.
Tomorrow, the Climate Prediction Center, a branch within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration related to the National Weather Service, will issue the "official" government forecast for the winter season.The primary influences are expected to be the developing El Nino and the large region of anomalously warm ocean water surrounding much of Alaska.
The rain and snow combination on Wednesday, Oct. 10, yielded almost an inch of water here in Fargo-Moorhead, bringing the total for just the first half of October to almost 2.5 inches.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' fall color map indicates most of the trees across northern Minnesota are either at peak now or past the peak color for this fall.
It seems that most people have trouble differentiating between climate and weather. Weather is what happens any day or month. It is naturally quite changeable, even to extremes. Climate is a generalized set of expectations of the weather.