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Sept-Oct 2009

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From the editor

It’s that time of year again. The air is so thick and heavy with heat and humidity that it seems to create a haze that obscures the lush green of the East Coast summer landscape. Thunderclouds roll in on an almost daily basis, bringing with them dramatic crashes of thunder and lightning and the promise of relief from the heat.

I’ve talked about summers in Washington, D.C., in this column before, but I never seem to tire of them. Maybe it’s the fact that I can eat dinner outside at 9 p.m. without needing a jacket that makes me so happy in summer. Or maybe it’s the delight I take in the fleeting effervesence of a firefly or a long, lazy paddle down the river in a kayak. For me, summers are all about finding little moments of beauty or enjoyment in our otherwise hectic lives.

Those little moments of pleasure are what Weatherwise’s annual Photo Contest is all about. This year’s winners take weather’s beauty—sometimes fleeting, like a lightning bolt illuminating a calm sea, and sometimes quiet and still, like a crimson flower captured in a multitude of dew drops in a spider’s web—and turn it into art. Not surprisingly, the weather of summer plays a large role in the winners’ photos, from dramatic thundershowers to advancing supercell clouds. The photos start on page 14. 

Summer brings another type of weather to many areas of the country: tornadoes. New Hampshire is usually relatively immune to tornado threats, but July 24 marked the 1-year anniversary of a twister that surprised the nation, stumped investigators, and broke records. In “CSI New Hampshire: Hunting a Killer Tornado,” meteorologists Mish Michaels and John Jensenius attempt to determine what happened that hot July day as they follow clues to the longest-tracked tornado in New Hampshire’s history.

Not to be outdone, Weatherwise Executive Editor Stanley Gedzelman and coauthor Michael Vollmer seek to unlock the mysteries behind an elusive atmospheric phenomenon in “Twice in a Blue Moon.” Gedzelman and Vollmer decode the science behind blue moons and, in the process, break down some of the more complex aspects of atmospheric chemistry into understandable terms.

Whatever you are doing this summer, I hope you are finding some time to get outside and enjoy some of the beauty and drama the weather brings at this time each year. And don’t forget your camera when you do go outside. Who knows? Maybe next year your photo will appear among the winners of the 2010 Weatherwise Photo Contest!

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