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November-December 2017

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From the Editor

As I write this, the United States is about to experience its first full total eclipse of the sun since 1979. This is a monumental occasion, and one that has the meteorological community full of anticipation. Several issues ago we ran a two-part article by Joe Rao discussing the eclipse and detailing which locales offered the best bets for viewing the phenomenon, weatherwise. As expected, some of the coastal locales where totality should be visible are expected to be cloudy. But many in the Weatherwise community are traveling to the best viewing locales, and I hope our eclipse weather guide helped them plan their travels. And if you happen to be in a place on August 21 where you cannot see the eclipse because of cloud cover, take heart. You won't have to wait another 38 years to see the next eclipse: the next total solar eclipse that will be visible from the United States (at least the central United States) is in October 2024, only seven years away!

Moving on to the current issue of Weathewise, sky watchers who do not get to see the eclipse have another reason to celebrate this year: 2017 marked the birth of the first new cloud to be named by the World Meteorological Organization since 1951. The tale of the naming of Asperitas, an undulating wave-like cloud that has puzzled sky watchers for years, is a story for the Internet age, as cloud enthusiasts around the globe combined forces with Gavin Pretor-Pinney of the Cloud Appreciation Society to lobby for this new designation. The story shows the power of perseverance, digital technology, and enthusiasm.

This issue also includes our latest installment in the weather and climate of the 50 states. This time around we travel to Michigan, where winters are snowy, summers are warm, and the ever-present effects of the Great Lakes are a major player in the state's climate.

Finally, David Robinson presents the 2016–2017 Snow Report. It was a year of feast or famine, with some places, like the Pacific Northwest, getting inundated with the white stuff while others, like the central Plains, experiencing an unusual snow drought. Few locales made headlines last year like California, though, where snowfall was measured in feet instead of inches on a weekly basis. Below are some photos I took of my own experiences with this snowfall. The first is a photo in Soda Springs in March 2017, when 20 feet of snow graced the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in that area. The second photo, taken in August of 2017, shows the same location just five months later, after the melt. It's hard to believe it's the same place! 

Photos comparing snow depth near Donner Pass, California. Top, March 2017 and bottom, July 2017.

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