This issue of Weatherwise is all about what I think of as the “nitty gritty” of meteorology: data collection and usage, forecasting techniques, the physics of atmospheric phenomena. It takes a deeper look into some of the everyday tools meteorologists use to help us understand our weather and provides you, our readers, with explanations for some of what you see around you in the world.
In “The East Coast Blizzard of 2016: The Northeast Gets Buried,” Jeffrey B. Halverson recaps one of the biggest storms to hit the United States East Coast in recent memory. This storm, which brought the East Coast to a standstill for days after major metropolitan areas received several feet of snow in a two-day period, was one of the best forecast storms in history. Both the American and European models were in agreement on where and how the record-setting blizzard would strike days ahead of its arrival—something unprecedented in the history of meteorology. The story of how the storm developed, how it was forecast, and its impacts on the megalopolis of the East Coast makes for a fascinating article.
Meanwhile, Walt Lyons provides readers with a fascinating primer on lightning based on some of the new technology that has helped researchers better understand this phenomenon. In “Lightning: Does It Go Down or Up?” Lyons explores the physics of lightning and helps answer some of our most basic questions about it, including what direction it travels. His lightning images go a long way toward illustrating his points and provide some spectacular visuals too!
Finally, in “Creating a Database of All-Time Record Monthly Sea Level Pressure Records for the Lower 48 United States,” David Mark Roth discusses how and why he created the very first set of sea level pressure maps. The story starts with Hurricane Sandy and another very strong extratropical storm with record-setting sea level pressures. If researchers can get the full picture of how low sea level pressures can get in extraordinary extratropical storms, they can better predict how such storms will impact us, thus improving forecasts.