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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

12-14-18TOO COLD TO SNOW?The next time you hear someone remark that “it’s too cold to snow” tell them you know what’s really happening.WW1 12-14
12-14-18WINTER SOLSTICE– December 21st marks a beginning – and an ending. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp explains.WW2 12-14
12-14-18COLD BLAST– Almost 40 years ago this week, a severe cold front dropped temperatures across Kansas, setting new records in several locations.WW3 12-14
12-07-18WIND CHILLFew things get colder than the air temperature. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp says there's a common method of determining the effect of wind and cold on warm-blooded animals.WW1 12-07 
12-07-18ICE STORMS– Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp looks back at one of the worst ice storms in Kansas history.WW2 12-07 
12-07-18WINTER STORM– The year 1987 is remembered for a major winter storm that ravaged more than three states. WW3 12-07
11-30-18FREEZING RAIN– A more unusual type of winter precipitation, freezing rain rarely looks as dangerous as it really is. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp explains.WW1 11-30
11-30-18 FOUR CORNERS STORMS– A particular type of storm system is known for generating lots of snow over southwest Kansas. Learn more about the Four Corners storm.WW2 11-30
11-30-18 HOARFROST– There's one particular type of winter precipitation that makes trees and shrubs look like they have white hair. WW3 11-30
11-23-18LIQUID EQUIVALENTHow much water would you get if you melted down an inch of snow? Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp says there are several factors to consider. WW1 11-23
11-23-18BLACK ICE– It’s slippery, treacherous, and you usually don’t see it until it’s too late. What is it?WW2 11-23 
11-23-18HEATING DEGREE DAYSThere is a climate measurement that can be used to get a rough estimate of heating fuel demands. You can learn more by visiting: http://mesonet.ksu.edu/agriculture/degreedays.WW3 11-23 
11-16-18BLIZZARD Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp delves into the use and origins of a common winter word—one you might associate with a popular ice cream treat.WW1 11-16
11-16-18WINTER TORNADOES– You may not think tornadoes are possible in winter, but you might be wrong!WW2 11-16
11-16-18WINTER OF ‘92Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp looks back at one of the biggest winter storms in Kansas history.WW3 11-16
11-09-18TWO RECORDS, ONE DAY– How far can temperatures drop in a single day? Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp tells us about one of the most dramatic cold waves on record in the central United States.WW1 11-09
11-09-18HYDROMETEORKansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp introduces us to a weather term that covers a lot of bases.WW2 11-09
11-09-18WINTER ROAD READINESS – Before you do any extensive driving this winter, you should make iversity climatologist Mary Knapp suggests you make a few preparations.WW3 11-09
11-02-18WINTER WEATHER READINESS– Winter is approaching, and Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp says it’s best to start preparing for it sooner, rather than later.WW1 11-02
11-02-18METEOROLOGY– The origins of weather forecasting are rooted closer to the stars above, rather than the earth beneath our feet. WW2 11-02
11-02-18RAINFALL REPORTS– It’s a simple question, frequently asked: “How much rain did we get last night?” Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp says there’s an intricate network in place to give us the answer.WW3 11-02
10-26-18WIND DIRECTION– Does wind direction have a direct influence on air temperature? Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp says that’s not always the case.WW1 10-26 
10-26-18TRICKS AND TREATS– If you’re sending out little monsters and witches to collect candy Halloween night, it might be a good idea to bring a sweater along.WW2 10-26
10-26-18“FALLING BACK”– Are you ready to change all your clocks and other devices back to standard time? Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp looks into the history of this practice.WW3 10-26
10-19-18CARBON MONOXIDEWhile present throughout the entire year, a deadly gas tends to build up more easily during winter. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp explains.WW1 10-19
10-19-18BLIZZARD OF ‘97– One of the most ferocious winter storms in Kansas history occurred in October. WW2 10-19
10-19-18HURRICANE MITCH– As hurricanes go, this 1998 storm is responsible for at least 11,000 deaths. WW3 10-19
10-12-18HURRICANE HAZELOne of the deadliest hurricanes of the 20th century left a good portion of New England in ruins. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp (“nap”) looks back at Hurricane Hazel.WW1 10-12
10-12-18SNOW BOARDS– Many meteorologists use snow boards – but not the ones you might be thinking of.   WW2 10-12
10-12-18SEICHEWe’ve heard many references to a tidal surge in conjunction with hurricanes. However, a similar phenomenon can occur on inland lakes.WW3 10-12
10-05-18DEVASTATING FIRES– The deadliest single wildfire in United States history is also one of the least known, largely because it was overshadowed by another fire. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp has the story.WW1 10-05
10-05-18FALL COLOR– The reds and golds and oranges of fall tree leaves are the result of a complex formula. Learn how weather impacts the final result.WW2 10-05
10-05-18MINNESOTA FIRES– October may seem a bit late for wildfire activity, but that's when a massive wildfire occurred in the northern United States.WW3 10-05
09-28-18FROST– As mornings become cooler and cooler, Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp  says morning frost usually happens when the temperature reaches 32 degrees Farenheit, the freezing point of water. WW1 09-28
09-28-18HARD FREEZE– A listener recently asked, “What is a ‘hard freeze?’” Turns out the answer is a bit complicated.                                                WW2 09-28 
09-28-18INDIAN SUMMER– Pleasantly warm days, followed by pleasantly cool evenings; traditionally, those periods are referred to as “Indian Summer.” However, it’s a weather pattern with many names.     WW3 09-28 
09-21-18SATELLITES– Weather satellites have been assisting meteorologists for decades. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp tells us about some of the newest observers high above our heads.WW1 09-21
09-21-18MICROBURSTSDamage from severe winds doesn’t always come in the form of tornadoes. It can also be the result of microbursts.WW2 09-21
09-21-18FROSTY BREATH– Whether you’re age 5 or 85, there’s something fun about seeing your own breath on a frosty morning. But what's the science behind this bit of magic?WW3 09-21
09-14-18FAIR SKIES– “Fair” is word frequently used in weather forecasts, but what exactly does it mean? Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp explains.                                  WW1 09-14
09-14-18DID IT RAIN?– When we wake up to moisture on the ground in the early morning, it might be dew, rather than rain. WW2 09-14
09-14-18EARLY SNOW– If today seems way too early for snow, a quick check of the history books might change your mind.WW3 09-14
09-07-18HURRICANES– Have full, intact hurricanes ever made it up into Kansas? Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp has the answer.WW1 09-07
09-07-18FLOODING– Recent floods in certain parts of Kansas have been devastating. However, one of the worst flash floods occurred some 40 years ago.WW2 09-07
09-07-18EARTHQUAKE WEATHER–  We know better in the 21st century, but there was a time when earthquakes were linked to weather patterns.WW3 09-07
08-31-18RECORD HAILWorld records have always been fascinating – the tallest, the biggest, the heaviest. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp looks at one meteorological record Kansas once owned.WW1 08-31
08-31-18RED MOON – Last month, the moon caught the attention of many sky gazers, notably for its color.  Learn about the science behind the color.WW2 08-31
08-31-18GALVESTON– The United States has been hit by many large hurricanes during the past one hundred years or so, but one of the biggest is still one of the oldest.WW3 08-31
08-24-18COLD AUGUST DAYS– August is typically associated with warm, if not hot, temperatures. However, Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp says that’s not always the case.WW1 08-24
08-24-18THAT’S REALLY WET!– Kansas has seen its share of wet weather recently, but the records show it can be a lot wetter.WW2 08-24
08-24-18DAMAGE IN THE KEYS– One of the worst hurricanes to ever hit the United States was a category 5 when it slammed into the Florida Keys in early September.WW3 08-24
08-17-18THE END OF SUMMER?On what day does summer really end? Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp says, you have some choices.WW1 08-17
08-17-18WEATHER MAPS– The process used to forecast weather begins with how weather patterns are viewed. However, modern meteorology began with one simple tool.WW2 08-17
08-17-18FOG, MIST, HAZE– When you’re driving to work early in the morning, and you can’t see more than a few feet in front of your car, it could be one of three things.WW3 08-17
08-10-18HOTTER DAYS– The month of August began with tremendous heat across much of the state, but Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp says the record books document a much hotter August.WW1 08-10
08-10-18WIND SPEED– There’s more than one way to measure and report wind speed.WW2 08-10
08-10-18HOT SUMMER NIGHTS– While night time temperatures are generally cooler, there have been a few years when the setting of the sun offered no relief.WW3 08-10
08-03-18A FAMILIAR AROMA– The title song from the Broadway musical “Oklahoma!” features the line, “And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet, when the wind comes right behind the rain.” Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp delves into the science behind the scent.                  WW1 08-03
08-03-18SUMMER SNOW?– While there has been some weather data recording snowfall in July and August, it helps to dig a little deeper for the truth.WW2 08-03
08-03-18SUMMER HAIL– While most severe weather happens in the spring, summer hail storms have been known to be particularly destructive.WW3 08-03
07-27-18DESTRUCTIVE WIND FEATURESMost wind damage from severe storms is caused by straight line winds, not tornadoes. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp explains. WW1 07-27
07-27-18NON-TORNADIC THUNDERSTORM– August 1st marks the anniversary of the one of the worst non-tornadic thunderstorms on record for Kansas. WW2 07-27 
07-27-18A THUNDERSTORM AND DUST MIX – Haboobs are typical of very dry regions, such as the Sahara. However, these storms can also occur in the southwestern U.S.WW3 07-27 
07-20-18STAY HYDRATED– If you’re going to be outside in the heat, plan ahead by drinking ahead. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp discusses why that’s important.WW1 07-20
07-20-18HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES– With temperatures soaring into the triple digits, it’s important to watch out for heat-related illnesses. And, here's what to look for.WW2 07-20
07-20-18HURRICANE HUNTERS– While these aviators spend their “off-season” investigating winter storms, this is the time of year hurricane hunters earn their name.WW3 07-20
07-13-18POPUP THUNDERSTORMS– During the hottest summer days, late afternoon or evening thunderstorms can pop up out of nowhere. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp explains the science behind these storms.WW1 07-13
07-13-18HOTTEST DAYS OF KANSAS– To experience the hottest days ever recorded in Kansas, you’d have to push your thermometer well into the triple digits. WW2 07-13
07-13-18A BIG FLOOD– Twenty-five years ago, one Kansas county experienced a flash flood event that is still being talked about today. WW3 07-13
07-06-18COLD JULY?– The summer heat has arrived! While you’re focused on the upper end of the thermometer, Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp reminds us that for one extreme, you can usually find another.WW1 06-07 
07-06-18FIRESTARTER– We all know that lightning can be dangerous. In addition to the risk of injury or death to individuals, lightning can sometimes lead to catastrophic loss of property.                                                 WW2 06-07
07-06-18DOG DAYS– We’re approaching the hottest part of the summer, known as the “dog days.” But what's the story behind this rather odd phrase?                                                 WW3 06-07
06-29-18RIDGELocal TV meteorologists sometimes talk about a “ridge” on their maps, and in their forecasts. Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp explains just what that means.WW1 06-29
06-29-18HEAT BURST– Have you ever heard of a “heat burst?” K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains when and where you’re most likely to encounter a heat burst.WW2 06-29
06-29-18MIRAGE– In old movies, people stranded in the desert might see a mirage off in the distance. However, the scientific explanation is easier to see.                                                 WW3 06-29
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



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.