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K-State Research and Extension News

Weather Wonders

Kansas State climatologist Mary Knapp offers this weekly series of short programs on weather phenomena and recent meteorological events in Kansas.  Each segment is approximately 1-minute in length.

Send comments, questions or requests for copies of past programs to ksrenews@ksu.edu.

Program Date

Segment Title and Description

Listen and Download

06-22-18DEW POINT– One basic measure of humidity is the dew point. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp explains the science behind it.WW1 06-22
06-22-18HEAT WAVE– Warm weather has arrived, but is it a heat wave? The answer probably depends on where you live.                                                 WW2 06-22
06-22-18MUGGYFor his high school newspaper, the late John Lennon once wrote a brief weather forecast: “Today will be muggy, followed by tuggy, wuggy and thuggy.” Those last three words aren’t actual weather conditions, but we know a lot about muggy.                                                 WW3 06-22
06-15-18HEAT LIGHTNINGWhen it happens, the overhead skies are usually clear, and you probably don’t hear thunder. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp explains what it is.WW1 06-15
06-15-18SUMMER SOLSTICE– June 21st marks an important annual astronomical and meteorological event. WW2 06-15
06-15-18RAINIEST MONTH– You might think that the wettest month for Kansas would be April or May, at the height of severe weather season. However, you’d be wrong.WW3 06-15 
06-08-18A CAPPED INVERSION– It looks like a storm might develop, but then nothing happens. Why does occur? According to K-State climatologist Mary Knapp (nap) it might be the result of a capped inversion.WW1 06-08
06-08-18TWO COLD JUNE DAYS– We think of June as being one of our warmer months. However, that’s not always the case. There was a very cold June day in California in 1907 and one in Kansas in 1998.WW2 06-08
06-08-18A TORNADO OUTBREAK– June 15, 1992 is in the history books as the second largest two-day tornado outbreak in U.S. history – and it began in Kansas. WW3 06-08
06-01-18FLASH FLOODINGWhen heavy rains drench an area in just a few hours, Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp says it’s important to be aware of this weather hazard.       WW1 06-01
06-01-18GROUND FOG– Morning motorists sometimes experience the effect of driving through clouds. But, just what exactly is this phenomenon?                             WW2 06-01
06-01-18HEAT INDEX– High temperatures and high humidity can combine to cause illness, or even death. But, do you know how the heat index is calculated?WW3 06-01
05-25-18WIND SPEEDHow strong and fast is the wind today? Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp  says we owe a debt of gratitude to a 19th century British naval officer who first decided that wind speed measurements were important.WW1 05-25
05-25-18BALL LIGHTNING– A bright light, a crackle, perhaps a lingering odor of sulfur. Learn more about this very rare, almost mythical atmospheric phenomenon.WW2 05-25
05-25-18DANGERS OF LIGHTNING– As summer thunderstorms develop, it’s important to remember one of the major hazards of thunderstorms.                                                 WW3 05-25
05-18-18FLASH FLOOD– We’ve all seen video of cars and people stuck in the waters of a flash flood. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp has the story about one flash flood that turned the streets into a river, fish included!WW1 05-18
05-18-18SUNDOGS– You may be familiar with sun spots and solar flares, but there's a much rarer phenomenon to watch for.WW2 05-18
05-18-18SOIL MOISTURE– Much of Kansas has been stuck in a drought, leaving parched soil and stressed vegetation. However, there has been a question about soil moisture.WW3 05-18
05-11-18ROLL CLOUDSKansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp tells us about a rare type of cloud that you just might spot during severe weather season.WW1 05-11 
05-11-18VIRGAIs it possible to have rain falling from the sky, with little or none of it even hitting the ground? While it may be rare, it can happen.WW2 05-11
05-11-18VOLCANOESWith all the attention on Hawaii recently, many are wondering what effect volcanic eruptions can have on weather.WW3 05-11
05-04-18BOLT FROM THE BLUE– If you’ve never seen a bolt of lightning come out of a clear blue sky, it may just be a matter of time. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp explains.WW1 05-04
05-04-18NOT JUST TORNADOES– Most of us associate severe weather with the occurrence of tornadoes – it’s the “worst case scenario” we immediately gravitate to. However, other occurrences can be just as bad...maybe worse.WW2 05-04
05-04-18HAIL OR SLEET?– When ice particles fall from the sky, is it hail or sleet? Believe it or not, there actually are differences between the two.WW3 05-04
04-27-18WESTERN KANSAS BLIZZARD– Western Kansas was hit by a major blizzard in late April last year. According to K-State climatologist Mary Knapp, snowfall amounts of one to two feet were common – and cattle loss was an estimated 100,000 head.WW1 04-27
04-27-18TORNADO ACTIVITY IS DOWN– Tornado activity in Kansas is off to a slow start this spring. However, tornado activity can still pick up – possibly as early as next month.WW2 04-27
04-27-18THE GREENSBURG TORNADO– May 4th marks the 11th anniversary of the devastating Greensburg Tornado. This Level 5 tornado literally erased over 90% of the town.WW3 04-27
04-20-18APRIL HIGH TEMPERATURES– April can see a range of temperatures – from bitterly cold to extremely warm. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp looks at some of the warmest temperatures recorded in Kansas in April.WW1 04-20
04-20-18UNUSUAL STORM WARNING– We’re used to a variety of weather warnings being issued in Kansas. However, there was a rather unusual warning issued in April of 1994.WW2 04-20
04-20-18TWILIGHT AND CIVIL TWILIGHT– Because it occurs gradually this time of year, the additional sunlight gained is hardly noticeable. In addition to giving sunrise and sunset times, other terms might be included in local weather reports.WW3 04-20
04-13-18U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR– A special measuring tool that integrates stream flow, precipitation, and vegetative health is getting a lot of use these days. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains.WW1 04-13
04-13-18HIGH WIND DAMAGE– While most associate high wind damage with rotating phenomena such as tornadoes and hurricanes, straight-line winds can wreak just as much havoc.WW2 04-13
04-13-18FREEZING CONDITIONS– The average date of the last freeze varies across the state. For example, in Yates Center, the average date is April 8th while in Atwood it's May 8th. As for this year, conditions appear optimal for a late freeze.WW3 04-13
04-06-18MESONET– In addition to the big weather stations and Doppler radar systems you occasionally see, Kansas has a smaller network of weather recording stations that deliver helpful data. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains.WW1 04-06  
04-06-18APRIL FOOL’S SNOWFALL– If someone told you it was snowing outside on April 1st, you might think it was an April Fool’s joke. But there have been some astounding amounts of snowfall recorded on that date.WW2 04-06 
04-06-18APRIL SHOWERS– April is not only a time for rain “showers” – some heavy amounts of rain have been recorded. this is a look back at one such day. WW3 04-06
03-30-18LONGER DAYS, STRONGER STORMS– There’s a good reason why spring is also severe weather season in Kansas. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains how longer, warmer days fuel stormy skies.WW1 03-30
03-30-18PINEAPPLE EXPRESS– From the middle of the Pacific Ocean, an atmospheric phenomenon brings turbulent weather to the West Coast, and maybe even to the Plains.WW2 03-30
03-30-18THE HARD FREEZE– While we’d like to think that winter weather is behind us, it’s still not too late to get a blast of cold air which can cause a “hard freeze.”WW3 03-30
03-23-18PREDICTIONSModern forecasters use things like radar, weather models and global circulation patterns. But according to K-State climatologist Mary Knapp there was an older way of making forecast predictions.WW1 03-23
03-23-18COLD SNAPS– Even if the calendar says spring has arrived, there are still opportunities for late-breaking cold snaps. Here's a look back at three such occurrences.WW2 03-23
03-23-18APRIL AND MAY– K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says weather records actually do support a well-known saying about April showers and May flowers.WW3 03-23
03-16-18VERNAL EQUINOX– This week marks a big change in Earth’s relation to the Sun. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp (“nap”) explains.WW1 03-16
03-16-18TOPS IN TORNADOES– Which state in the union has experienced the greatest number of tornadoes? The answer may surprise you.WW 2 03-16
03-16-18ANDERSON CREEK FIRE– Two years ago, one of the worst wildfires in Kansas history, the Anderson Creek Fire, was just getting started. WW3 03-16
03-09-18WIND AND BEHAVIOR– Some people joke about a full moon causing unusual behavior in people. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says the local weather can sometimes have a similar effect.WW1 03-09
03-09-18WINDY CONDITIONS– Wind advisories are issued by the National Weather Service, and they’re more common in the spring...and they're something we should be mindful of.WW2 03-09
03-09-18MARCH ICE STORM– A winter storm brought so much ice to southwest Kansas 20 years ago that there was a report of a chunk of ice falling through the cab of a pickup truck.WW3 03-09
03-02-18WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK– Severe weather season is approaching. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp discusses an annual event that helps Kansans prepare for possible weather emergencies.WW1 03-02
03-02-18KANSAS WILDFIRES– Wildfires ravaged parts of Kansas last year, causing major damage and heartache. WW2 03-02
03-02-18WATCH FOR FLOODING– Weather Awareness Week includes some information on a weather emergency that has a tendency to rise up from below.WW3 03-02
02-23-18THUNDER IN THE MIX– Thunder isn’t just for rain storms – it can sometimes be heard mixed in with other forms of precipitation. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp has more.WW1 02-23
02-23-18GREAT STORM OF 1900– One of the biggest, coldest winter storms in history hit at least a third of the United States more than 100 years ago.         WW2 02-23
02-23-18LIONS AND LAMBS– There's a number of weather beliefs that have been passed down through the years. For March, it's lions and lambs. But do history and science actually agree on this familiar weather adage?WW3 02-23
02-16-18HOARFROST AND RIME– During winter, ice can take on several forms. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp covers a couple of those: hoarfrost and rime.WW1 02-16
02-16-18HOW MUCH WATER IN SNOW?– There are a couple of common adages or rules of thumb when it comes to estimating the amount of water in a particular snowfall...but these adages aren’t always accurate.WW2 02-16
02-16-18WATER VAPOR– Carbon dioxide is frequently mentioned in discussions and articles on greenhouse gases and climate change. However, carbon dioxide takes second place to something else.WW3 02-16
02-09-18THE GREAT EASTERN BLIZZARD– February is thought of as the transition from winter to spring, and K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says it’s a month that has experienced a lot of severe weather events.WW1 02-09
02-09-18DUST STORM– The days of the Dust Bowl are far behind us, and conservation efforts like windbreaks have reduced the likelihood of another such catastrophe. However, dust storms are still a very real weather phenomenon.WW2 02-09
02-09-18WINTER PRECIPITATION– It’s not just sleet and snow that fall from the sky during winter. There are other lesser-known forms of winter precipitation.WW3 02-09
02-02-18RED FLAG WARNINGS– Isn’t winter a little too early to start worrying about wildfire danger? K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says wildfire conditions can exist anytime.WW1 02-02
02-02-18DROUGHT– The Glossary of Meteorology defines drought as “a period of abnormally dry weather sufficiently prolonged for the lack of water to cause serious hydrologic imbalance.” But there's a more direct explanation.WW2 02-02
02-02-18HOW THE WILD THINGS SURVIVE– Most humans have it relatively easy: When it gets too hot or too cold, we change our wardrobe, or adjust the thermostat. But how do animals deal with extreme weather conditions?WW3 02-02
01-26-18ONCE IN A BLUE MOON– K-State climatologist Mary Knapp previews an upcoming lunar spectacular, and delves into the history behind a common phrase.WW1 01-26 
01-26-18LA NIÑA– Cooler water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are making themselves felt in weather patterns here in America...making an impact on our weather. WW2 01-26 
01-26-18GROUNDHOG DAY– February 2nd is “Groundhog Day”...the day we find out how much longer winter will last. But just how often is the groundhog right? WW3 01-26
01-19-18TEMPERATURE SWINGS– It’s not unusual to see large temperature variation during the winter months. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp recalls one very, very wild day that set records that still stand.WW1 01-19 
01-19-18ALBEDO– When everything seems especially bright after a snowfall, there’s a good reason for that. WW2 01-19 
01-19-18A BIG SNOWFALL– K-State climatologist Mary Knapp takes a look back at one of the bigger snowfall events in recent Kansas history.WW3 01-19 
01-12-18ALBERTA CLIPPER– K-State climatologist Mary Knapp tells us about a weather phenomenon that Kansans will probably never get to experience for themselves — unless they travel a few hundred miles north.WW1 01-12 
01-12-18ICE PANS– If you’ve ever noticed interesting patches of ice on the surface of rivers, lakes or ponds, you could be looking at any of a number of ice formations. WW2 01-12
01-12-18JANUARY THAW– A singularity is a weather event that happens on or near a particular date more frequently than would occur by chance. One such event has been documented in the New England area for almost two centuries.WW3 01-12
01-05-18“SAFE” ICE– The severely cold weather of the past few days has left many ponds with a layer of ice across the top — but K-State climatologist Mary Knapp cautions against breaking out the ice skates.WW1 01-05
01-05-18HOW COLD IS ICE?– It’s common knowledge that water freezes at 32 degrees Farenheit, or zero degrees Celsius.  However, it’s possible to have ice that is both warmer and colder.                          WW2 01-05
01-05-18IN THE “DEEP FREEZE”– Has the recent cold snap put Kansas in the proverbial “deep freeze?” WW3 01-05
   

 

 

500-YEAR EVENTS?Just after the landfall of Hurricane Harvey, journalists and meteorologists were using terms like “500-year storm” or “100-year flood.” K-State climatologist Mary Knapp (“nap”) shares some insight into these terms.