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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

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
12-29-17NEW YEAR’S WEATHER– On this first day of 2018, K-State climatologist Mary Knapp looks back at the weather that has greeted Kansas in other New Years.                                                 WW1 12-29
12-29-17FREEZING FOG OR FROST FOG?– Tiny frozen water droplets can gather in one of two different types of weather phenomena. Find out what the difference is.                             WW2 12-29
12-29-17TROUGHK-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains what a trough is, in the world of weather.WW3 12-29
12-22-17WHITE CHRISTMAS– Is this the year for you to enjoy a white Christmas? K-State climatologist Mary Knapp looks at the odds.WW1 12-22
12-22-17INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI– K-State climatologist Mary Knapp looks back at one of the worst tsunamis ever recorded.                                 WW2 12-22
12-22-17KANSAS ICE STORMDecember 29th is the anniversary of one of the biggest ice storms in the history of Kansas. Just how big was it?WW3 12-22
12-15-17THE COLDEST DECEMBER– While many Kansans are still waiting for that first taste of winter weather, K-State climatologist Mary Knapp takes a look at just how cold it can get in Kansas.WW1 12-15
12-15-17WINTER SOLSTICE– The shortest day of the year is this week. But just exactly what is the winter solstice?WW2 12-15
12-15-17FREEZE/THAW CYCLE– It can cause pavement and concrete to crack, and even bring plant roots up to the soil surface -- but how does the freeze/thaw cycle create so many problems?WW3 12-15
12-08-17CHINOOK– It’s one of the most powerful wind currents on the planet, capable of melting and evaporating snow at an amazing rate. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp introduces us to the Chinook.WW1 12-08
12-08-17A VERY WINDY DAY– Kansas is known for being a windy state, but even here, some days make their way into the record books. WW2 12-08
12-08-17“COLD WAVE” Meteorologists across the nation like to use the phrase “cold wave” in their forecasts but what does it take to make a cold wave. WW3 12-08
12-01-17NOVEMBER PRECIPITATION– Last month was one of the driest Novembers on record. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp takes a look at the history books.WW1 12-01
12-01-17THIS DAY IN KANSAS WEATHER: ICE! – Kansas experienced one of its worst ice storms in early December. Just how bad was it?WW2 12-01
12-01-17TOO COLD TO SNOW?– An old adage about snowfall is that it can be too cold to snow. But is that old adage true?WW3 12-01
11-24-17“FOGBOW”– K-State climatologist Mary Knapp talks about about a colorful weather phenomenon that’s usually easier to see in the winter months.WW1 11-24 
11-24-17BE PREPARED– With a little preparation, you can be ready for almost any kind of winter roadside emergency, and that includes being stranded in a snowstorm. WW2 11-24 
11-24-17ICE MELTERS– Icy sidewalks, driveways, and even highways are treated with various chemicals to melt the slippery ice – but what’s in that stuff? WW3 11-24 
11-17-17JET STREAM– It is perhaps one of the most permanent fixtures of our atmosphere, and airline pilots appreciate the speed boost they can sometimes get from it: the jet stream.WW1 11-17
11-17-17THANKSGIVING STORMS– Books, songs, and even movies have at times incorporated Thanksgiving storms into their plot lines. Kansas has had its share of Thanksgiving storms.WW2 11-17
11-17-17THE ALMOST–ENDLESS WINTER– November 24, 1992 marked the start of one of the snowiest winters, with several major storms and blizzards. There were areas of Kansas that saw a lot of snow that year. WW3 11-17
11-10-17DUST STORMS– It’s the kind of cloud that can make things as dark as night —sometimes with little or no rain...dust.WW1 11-10
11-10-17WINTER PREPAREDNESS– As winter weather sets in, and holiday traveling heats up, motorists should be prepared for any kind of weather.WW2 11-10
11-10-17BLACK ICE– One of the worst hazards of winter is something most of us never see...until it's often too late to avoid.WW3 11-10
11-03-17WHAT IS A NOR’EASTER?– Although they can occur anytime, October to March is typically the strongest season for nor’easters. But, just what is a nor'easter? WW1 11-03 
11-03-17THE FIRST STORM WARNING– Have you ever wondered when the very first storm warning was issued in the United States? As you might guess, it was a long time ago.WW2 11-03 
11-03-17A DRAMATIC COLD WAVE– When Arctic air plunges into the Central Plains, especially in the fall, Kansas can experience a dramatic change in temperature. An historic example of this occurred in southeastern Kansas in 1911.WW3 11-03 
10-27-17A FATAL STORM– Sometimes,weather can be downright deadly! K-State climatologist Mary Knapp (“nap”) looks back at one late-October event that resulted in death.WW1 10-27
10-27-17WHEN THE NORTH WIND BLOWS– An old nursery rhyme states, “North wind doth blow and we shall have snow” -- and that can be true -- some of the time.WW2 10-27
10-27-17WIND CHILL– For all mammals that live on land, the wind can affect how quickly we lose body heat. WW3 10-27
10-20-17OCTOBER ICE– Fifteen years ago, parts of Kansas were coated in an icy surprise. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp (“nap”) has the story.WW1 10-20
10-20-17A DEVASTATING BLIZZARDOctober 25th marks the 20th anniversary of one of the worst blizzards in Kansas history.WW2 10-20
10-20-17INDIAN SUMMER– The weather you wish you had during the summer sometimes doesn’t show up until autumn.                                                 WW3 10-20
10-13-17OCTOBER TORNADOES– While most Kansas tornadoes occur in the spring, the month of October has occasionally produced a twister or two.WW1 10-13
10-13-17THAT BREATH OF AUTUMNK-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains why you can see your own breath on some cold mornings, but not on others.WW2 10-13
10-13-17OCTOBER METEORS– There may soon be a chance to see a meteor shower...if there are clear skies above you.WW3 10-13
10-06-17HISTORIC FIRES– In October of 1871, four major forest fires burned through parts of the Upper Midwest — but most people only know about one of them. WW1 10-06
10-06-17FAIR SKIES– When meteorologists look at clouds in the sky, they look at more than just the quantity, or amount. WW2 10-06
10-06-17HURRICANE HISTORY– Detailed recordkeeping of hurricanes didn’t begin until the 20th century, but there is evidence of one particularly violent storm from the 19th century.WW3 10-06
09-29-17EARLY HURRICANES– When we look at our TVs, computers, and smart phones for images of the latest hurricane, it’s easy to forget that these storms have a history that pre-dates our technology.WW1 09-29
09-29-17SNOW BOARDS– K-State climatologist Mary Knapp has a snowboard — but it’s not what you might be thinking about right now.                                                 WW2 09-29
09-29-17THE FIRST SNOW– K-State climatologist Mary Knapp looks back at some of the first snowfalls in Kansas history. A couple of them were surprisingly huge!WW3 09-29
09-22-17AUTUMN LEAVES– It won’t be long before Kansas trees put on their fall colors...and the weather plays a large role in preparing this annual show.WW1 09-22
09-22-17EARLY SNOW?– When fall begins, thoughts sometimes turn to early snow. How early? K-State climatologist Mary Knapp checks the record books.WW2 09-22
09-22-17MORNING DEW– We’ve all encountered moist shoes or feet if we walk through grass in the morning. But what's causing the grass to be wet?WW3 09-22
09-15-17AIR POLLUTION– While phrases like “air quality” and “carbon footprint” are relatively new, K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says concerns over pollution go back hundreds of yearsWW1 09-15
09-15-17FIRST FREEZE– Gardeners want more growing time, and allergy sufferers want an end to the pollen. Both of those are dependent on when the first freeze hits.WW2 09-15
09-15-17AUTUMNAL EQUINOX– Today marks the Autumnal Equinox — on the calendar. Is it really the day when night and day are equally divided? K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says it’s not that simple.WW3 09-15
09-08-17500-YEAR EVENTS? – Just after the landfall of Hurricane Harvey, journalists and meteorologists were using terms like “500-year storm” or “100-year flood.” But, what does that really mean?


WW1 09-08
09-08-17AUTUMN MYTHS – There are many myths and urban legends about our seasons and the weather. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp tackles a couple of these, just in time for autumn.WW2 09-08
09-08-17EARLY KANSAS WEATHER REPORTS – When were the first official weather observations made in Kansas? Believe it or not, they happened more than 100 years ago.



WW3 09-08
09-01-17CONTRIBUTING FACTORS– If you’re sometimes not sure what to make of Kansas weather, Kansas State University climatologist Mary Knapp says there are a lot of variables at play.WW1 09-01
09-01-17DIFFERING TEMPERATURE READINGS– Radio and TV stations often report differing temperatures from nearby locations, such as downtown or at the airport. That’s probably because several factors can impact temperature readings within a local area.WW2 09-01
09-01-17SUNSET AND TWILIGHT– What time will the sunset this evening? K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says the answer might depend on who you ask.WW3 09-01
08-25-17BACKYARD WEATHER STATION– There are many types of “weather stations” that can be purchased for home use – units that go above and beyond the common rain gauge in the back yard.WW1 08-25
08-25-17MOTHER NATURE’S THERMOMETERBelieve it or not, there's a common insect that provides amazingly accurate temperature readings.WW2 08-25
08-25-17HORSE LATITUDES– K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains how the “Horse Latitudes” got their name.WW3 08-25
08-18-17IS SUMMER OVER?– When does summer actually end? K-State climatologist Mary Knapp (“nap”) says it depends on which calendar you follow.WW1 08-18
08-18-17BERMUDA HIGH– If the weather feels hot and humid, day after day, K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says it might have to do with one peculiar weather system that never truly goes away.WW2 08-18
08-18-17KRAKATOA ERUPTION– August 26th marks the anniversary of one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions ever recorded. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp has the story.WW3 08-18
08-11-17A BLISTERING SUMMERIt was a hot July across Kansas,  but what are some of the hottest summers in history?WW1 08-11
08-11-17WEATHER MAPS– If you haven’t seen one yet today, you probably will before the day is over. What could it be? WW2 08-11
08-11-17SOLAR ECLIPSE– On Monday, August 21st, months of eager anticipation will finally come to an end, as a solar eclipse crosses much of the continental United States. A bit of research will also be going on behind the scenes.WW3 08-11
08-04-17MUD STORMS?– When the conditions are just right, the right amount of dust and the right amount of rain can result in something rather interesting. WW1 08-04
08-04-17METEOR SHOWER– K-State climatologist Mary Knapp reminds us about a favorite annual event for astronomers, as well as those who want to do a bit of stargazing.WW2 08-04
08-04-17YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER– Frozen lakes in July. Cold rains that lasted for months. Food riots in France and Switzerland. All of this, and more, occurred in the wake of a natural event that influenced weather around the world.WW3 08-04



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.