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November/December 2009

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From the editor

One of the things I like best about Weatherwise is that the format and mission of the magazine allow us—the editors and contributors—to explore topics to a depth that most other media outlets cannot. We can devote an entire feature to studying one particular type of ice formation or have an in-depth discussion about a community of volunteer weather observers. The flipside of that is that our publishing schedule does not allow us to focus on hard-hitting news.

But every now and then, a high-profile, weather-related story makes headlines across the globe, and that is when Weatherwise is able to step in and provide the context and expertise that other news outlets cannot. Such is the case with our cover story for this issue, “The Intertropical Convergence Zone,” by Tim Vasquez. The article explores the conditions that might have contributed to the crash of Air France Flight 447, which went down in the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009, en route from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Paris. The crash killed all 216 passengers and 12 crewmembers onboard, and afterward the world looked for answers about what might have caused the crash. The news media reported that the plane went down in the intertropical convergence zone, or ITCZ, which is a turbulent area where the trade winds from the north and south hemispheres meet. Many outlets, in their efforts to explain the cause of the Air France crash, provided inaccurate descriptions and definitions of the ITCZ. Vasquez, who served as an expert on the ITCZ for a number of media outlets covering the crash, seeks to correct those misconceptions in this issue's cover story. I hope that the information he provides will help clarify for you, our readers, the reality of the conditions that the plane might have faced.

As always, this month's cover story is just one of the interesting articles in the magazine. We have two features this issue which are timely for the onset of the winter season. First, Dennis Todey, Jay Trobec, and Mike Mogil explore the weather and climate of one of our colder states, South Dakota, in “The Weather and Climate of South Dakota.” Then, in time for Christmas, David Klein, John Walsh, and Martha Shulski examine how an extreme winter spelled doom for a population of reindeer on an island in Alaska.

On a different note, you might have noticed the changes to Weatherwise's masthead in this issue. As you can see, Weatherwise is now being published by Taylor & Francis Group LLC, a publishing house with many years of experience in the areas of magazines, journals, and books. Although this will mean some changes behind the scenes, Weatherwise will remain the same magazine you have come to know after all these years. All of us at Weatherwise remain committed to providing you with interesting and relevant content highlighting the power, beauty, and excitement of weather. As always, I welcome feedback and would be delighted to hear any concerns, questions, or comments you might have.

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