John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms. John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold. When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading. John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.
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Sixty-one years ago this evening, at around 7:30 pm, a powerful, slow-moving tornado touched down west of Fargo and carved a path of devastation across the northern part of Fargo. It remains the worst tornado disaster in North Dakota history.
Summer is the season for small-scale weather. If a shower or thunderstorm produces rain where you are, then your day is instantly rainy. But because showers and thunderstorms are usually relatively small, other people a few miles away might still be enjoying what they perceive to be a sunny day.
Caddo County, just west of Oklahoma City, has been hit by at least 111 tornadoes from 1950 through 2012. The rest of central Oklahoma is about as unlucky. Geography is to blame, particularly from mid-April through mid-June when conditions ideal for tornadoes occur with regular frequency. The Gulf of Mexico and its warm, humid air is close by to the south. Just to the west and northwest is Colorado and, in particular, the Colorado Front Range with its peaks to 13,000 feet.
This week in 1995, our region was experiencing a rare early summer heat wave. For eight days, from June 14-21, the high temperature in Fargo-Moorhead reached at least 90 degrees. This included six consecutive days and nights in which the temperature never went lower than 70 degrees even at night. The hottest day during the stretch was June 17 when it reached 100 degrees. Temperatures of 100 degrees or warmer are extremely rare in the Fargo area during June. With records going back to 1881, days in the 100s during June have only happened 10 times, four of them in 1933.
Humid air has qualities which, for our climate, are distinctly associated with the summer.
For our climate, summer humidity is the antithesis of winter wind chill. For many northern people, the sultry, damp feeling of a warm, humid evening is every bit as awful as a midwinter wind chill.
Clouds are made of water droplets and ice crystals. Have you ever wondered why these make clouds in the sky instead of just falling to the ground? Even a small cumulus cloud can weigh hundreds of tons.
Wednesday evening, May 30, at around 6:45 pm, a developing non-severe thundershower near Pisek, N.D., produced a visible condensation funnel cloud that lowered to the ground and remained in contact for about 15 minutes, hardly moving during this time.
May was a warm and dry month in Fargo-Moorhead. The average high temperature was 77.7 degrees, which is 8.4 degrees warmer than average. The average low was 49.5 degrees, which is 4.6 degrees warmer than average.
Lightning is a relatively common experience, but it is anything but common. In addition to being a giant spark, lightning is a plasma.