This issue features another installment in our ongoing series on the climate and weather of the 50 states. This time we travel to the Beehive State, also known as Utah. While some might know Utah for its spectacular mountains and snow-laden ski areas, the climate of the state is actually categorized as semi-arid, with more than one-third of the state a desert. In fact, Utah is the second-driest state in the country. Still, the state enjoys regular monsoons, strong winds, heat, cold, snow, dry… a veritable cornucopia of weather. What some people might not know is that Utah is home to five national parks, seven national monuments, two national recreation areas, a national historic site, and six national forests. In addition, there are 40 state parks. So if the natural beauty of the state has not been enough reason to visit until now, perhaps a look inside its meteorology will persuade some of our readers to check out the state's natural beauty and climate in person.
Speaking of snow and cold, Don Lipman commemorates the 200th anniversary of the “Year Without a Summer” as he looks back at the unusual cold, unexpected snow, failed crops, famines, and migrations that all played a part in the coldest summer on record. Certainly much has been written about the summer of 1816, but Lipman helps us separate fact from fiction from folklore, and examines the volcanic cause behind the strange atmospheric dynamics.
Finally, Jack Williams examines another strange aspect of weather that we don't often give much thought to. Most of our articles focus on the here and now—that is, the weather that affects us here on earth on a daily basis. However, there is another type of weather happening far above us—in space—that can also affect our day-to-day life. Solar storms like one that occurred in 1989 can affect the electrical grid, and as we become an increasingly connected society, dependent for nearly everything on electricity, the risk of us losing our ability to connect, should another major solar storm cut off access to electricity, is very real.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Weatherwise. As always, please get in touch with any feedback.