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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We all know there is oxygen in the air because we breathe oxygen in the air to live. But the air we breathe is not just pure oxygen. Actually, air is mostly nitrogen. Nitrogen is fairly non-reactive and it is not poisonous. It has no smell or taste. Nitrogen comprises about 78 percent of the air in the atmosphere. About 20 percent of the air is oxygen, which is what we breathe, but it also highly reactive.
For much of the summer, there is no really noticeable or significant change in the length of day. Sunrise happens extremely early and sundown happened long after suppertime. But now, as August wanes, the darkness is beginning to creep, shortening the days and making it seem much less like summer. For about a month around the time of the summer solstice, the length of day changes only by about 20 minutes, and half of that is only noticed by people who get up extremely early.
A question came into the Weather Center this week about where our humidity comes from. The standard assumption is that most of our humidity comes from the Gulf of Mexico, but it is not as simple as that. To begin with, there is always some humidity in the air, even on the driest winter day. Secondly, any sunny summer day, a certain amount of humidity is evaporated locally from lakes and rivers as well as from the soil if it is damp.
The average high for Fargo-Moorhead today, Aug. 18, is 81 degrees and the average daily low is 57 degrees, based on normalized statistics over the past three complete decades.
There is a 60 percent chance of El Nino developing sometime during the fall months, increasing to a 70 percent chance sometime this winter, according to the Climate Prediction Center, a partner with the National Weather Service underneath the umbrella of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
There are any number of ways to quantify a season and by most measures, this summer is working out to be just slightly warmer and slightly drier than average.
A temperature change of 40 degrees from one day to the same hour a day later is certainly noticeable, even remarkable, during the cold weather season when strong fronts are somewhat common. But for such a thing to happen during summer is extreme. However, such a thing did happen in northwestern North Dakota between Sunday and Monday. It began with a heat wave Sunday. It was hot in and around the Fargo area Sunday, but out west the temperature soared into the 100s due to compressional heating effects caused by downward-moving air underneath a strong high pressure center.
After about five weeks with a daily high temperature of 83 degrees, this week the average high is 82 degrees. By the end of the month the average high will have fallen to 77 degrees. By the end of September, the average high will be a cool 65.
Have you ever noticed that rain seems to have a smell? Have you noticed that the smell is at its most intense when the rain is first starting? Or even just before it rains? Rain, itself, is water, of course. Raindrops also contain various minerals and other impurities, but these are not the reason for the rain smell. It turns out this smell actually has a name. It is called petrichor. When soil is disturbed by raindrops, various bacteria within the soil produce a compound called geosmin, which translates from Latin as "Earth smell."
William Herschel, a famous astronomer of the mid-1700s through the early 1800s, is probably most famous for discovering Uranus, the first planet discovered with the use of a telescope. He was messing around with prisms and sunbeams one day in the year 1800 when he noticed that the air in the red part of the spectrum seemed warmer than the other colors.