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January-February 2009

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From the Editor

One of my favorite things about Weatherwise is the fact that every issue is like a mini trivia game. Do you want to know how much water is in the world’s oceans? Just read Tim Vasquez’s “Forecast Center.” (The answer is 300 million cubic miles, for those who are curious.) Did you know that the all-time high temperature in Alaska is 100°F—the same as Hawaii?? I didn’t, but I learned about it when reading Martha Shulski and Mike Mogil’s article on Alaska’s climate. Or do you know when the first official U.S. weather forecast was issued? Sean Potter does. (February 19, 1871.)

Sometimes we don’t know the answer to some of our trivia questions, and we have to challenge ourselves to find out. Dr. James Carter’s article on unusual growing ice formations is a perfect example of a subject that has not been studied extensively but that, with the help of readers like you, we can learn more about. Just keep that camera handy on cold mornings!

Whether you like the micro view provided by data in “Weatherwatch” or prefer looking at the bigger picture in the feature articles, chances are you’ll find some tidbit of information that you didn’t know before.

This issue is no different, and it contains something for the armchair enthusiast and the professional meteorologist alike. For example, in “Alaska’s Climate and Weather,” the second in our series of articles looking at the 50 states, Martha Shulski and Mike Mogil explore the weather on both a micro level and a macro level. They look at precipitation and wind speed data for the state while also considering how climate change is wreaking havoc on towns built on the permafrost.

Meanwhile, longtime Weatherwise writer Duncan Blanchard takes readers back to 1952 when he had the great fortune to witness one of the earliest experiments in cloud seeding, carried out on Hawaii’s Big Island. Although the effort ultimately failed, Blanchard’s story provides a glimpse into the history of one of the more controversial topics in meteorology.

Finally, take a look at the spectacular paintings in this issue’s “Weather Talk.” Artist John Brosio draws inspiration from one of the most awesome forces in nature—the tornado—and creates some truly amazing art. His work is on display at the National Academy of Sciences.
So whether you are reading this issue to learn about a particular topic for a class or just want some good background knowledge for a game of Trivial Pursuit, I hope you enjoy it.

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