08 January 2008

The Weather in Wisconsin is strange

January Tornados and Pile ups in the fog.

"I have never seen damage like this in the summertime when we have potential for tornadoes," Sheriff David Beth said. "To see something like this in January is mind-boggling to me. This is just unimaginable to me."
The only other tornado to hit Wisconsin in January since 1844 was in 1967, according to the National Weather Service.

I've never been in a tornado, but you can't live in the Midwest and not have spent some time in the basement, hearing the air raid sirens and hoping not to hear that freight train sound. But thats June, July and August. January is supposed to be lots of cold dry air, without any warm moist air coming up. But the weather in Wisconsin hasn't been normal the past few days.

On Sunday there were several pile ups in thick fog and two big ones.

The preliminary investigation shows that some motorists were traveling at least 70 mph above the 65 mph speed limit, said Wisconsin State Patrol Lt. Laurie Steeber said. Steeber said with the conditions, people should have slowed down.

"When there's snow, there's ice, there's fog. The speed limit is too fast,'' Steeber said.

I had a friend call me from the road outside Madison heading south and east. We stayed on the phone almost till she hit the state line. These pile ups were only a few minutes behind her. I checked the weather for her at the time, and visibility in Madison was 0.13 miles. She's a little shaken, but fine.

And while I don't want to blame every little weather quirk on global climate change, there is a larger overall trend of strange weather. And thats what we will see in our weather. You might not experience a net warming, but you will see a change. Warm when it should be cold, dry when it should be raining, floods in parts that are supposed to be dry. How exactly things will change is hard, if not impossible to guess at.

My mother told me a few months ago that she knows something is up because plants that are supposed to die off over a Minnesota winter, haven't been. Things will really be obvious when the insects start moving north. Oh wait, that has already started.

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