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September-October 2014

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From the Editor

The September/October issue of Weatherwise is always one of my—and our readers'—favorites of the year. Every year the pages of the magazine are filled with beautiful photos of spectacular, rare, hard-to-photograph, and sometimes hard-to-explain weather phenomena that make our atmosphere so fascinating.

The annual photo contest is a large part of the September/October issue. The winners of this year's contest, as always, represent some of the best weather photography we see here at Weatherwise. This year's crop of winners includes excellent examples of rainbows, iridescence, tornadoes, storm surf, hoar frost, cumulonimbus, crepuscular rays, lightning storms, and more. The photos are both beautiful and meteorologically impressive, and I hope that you, our readers, enjoy them. I would also like to thank our judges, USA Today Weather Page Editor Doyle Rice; former American Meteorological Society President Bob Ryan; and Stanley Gedzelman, a professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the City College of New York.

Equally striking are the images that accompany Ed Darack's second installment of “The Extraordinary Sky: Seeking the Atmosphere's Strangest and Most Spectacular Phenomena.” The meteorological entities covered in this issue's article include colored rain, quaternary rainbows, ball lightning, St. Elmo's Fire, and mirages, among others. Ed's spectacular photography helps illustrate his descriptions, while also providing a beautiful accompaniment to the winning entries in the Photo Contest.

Finally, this issue also features an article by Jeffrey J. Love, the USGS Advisor for Geomagnetic Research, on the auroral omens of the Civil War. In the fall of 1959, two storms occurred that resulted in rapid magnetic variations in the earth's atmosphere. What followed was an extremely unusual, spectacular display of aurora borealis in the night-time sky over the entire United States and the western hemisphere, possibly all the way down to the equator. In the stressful atmosphere of a divided nation in the years running up to the Civil War, many interpreted the unusual atmospheric display as a devastating omen of war. In retrospect, it seems, those prognosticators were correct, as just months later the United States was mired in one of the most devastating conflicts of its history. Love tells the story of these stressful days, accompanied by beautiful illustrations of the aurorae, in keeping with this issue's theme of spectacular illustrations.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Weatherwise. As always, I welcome feedback from readers!

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