In the fall of 2009, Accuweather's forecasters predicted that the winter of 2009–2010 would be one of the coldest and stormiest the mid-Atlantic region had seen in years. As a weather lover, I was excited about the prospect of big snowfalls, nights curled up by the fire with hot chocolate, and some exciting fodder for Weatherwise. So far, based on personal experience at least, it seems the forecasters' predictions were right on. In mid-December, Washington, DC, experienced the largest snowstorm to hit the area in years, with snowfalls of one to two feet across the area. While that might not seem like much to denizens of Buffalo, New York, or similarly snow-prone areas, to those of us who make their home in the mid-Atlantic, it was a notable storm. And as for the cold? Well, the wind chill is in the single digits as I write this, and weeks of below-normal temperatures are enough to convince me that we've got an unusual weather pattern on our hands.
But while I have been hearing many complaints from folks in these parts about the snow and the cold, unusual weather is never bad news for Weatherwise readers. In fact, it's what makes the magazine so interesting and is the fodder for the annual Almanac issue. I know many of you look forward to Weatherwise's annual summary of the previous year's weather each spring. Because of scheduling issues this year, we have had to move the Almanac issue from the normal March/April timeslot to the May/June issue, but rest assured it will be here soon.
In the meantime, the change has given us the opportunity to devote an issue to focusing on some of the more unusual weather you can encounter across the globe. For example, this issue features the latest installment in the climate and weather of the 50 states series. This time, Jan Null and Mike Mogil focus on the surprisingly diverse and dramatic weather of my home state of California. Contrary to popular belief, it's not just a good location for sun worshippers.
This issue also features a spectacular photo essay by Ed Darack depicting the weather on some of the highest mountains on Earth. These peaks challenge, awe, and inspire people across the globe, and their beauty, captured by Darack's lens, is breathtaking.
We also take a look at two studies that examine trends in extreme weather. One study, discussed in an article by Stanley Changnon, looks at the increase in recent years in the number of catastrophic storms hitting U.S. shores. By damage totals alone, it seems change is in the air. The second study, conducted by Weatherwise Contributing Editor Mace Bentley and colleagues, examines the possibility that urbanization might actually increase the frequency of lightning strikes in a given area.
I hope you enjoy this latest issue of Weatherwise and are looking forward to seeing the round-up of the last year's weather in the next issue. As always, I welcome comments.