February 18, 2004

Weather or Not!

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As I walked out of my house yesterday morning, I was prepared for the normal bombardment of cold air as I ventured out the door. But, as I pushed it open, I was pleasantly surprised by a very unusual warm wind. Being from Long Island, I am used to feeling on shore breezes at home, but this was the first time I had felt such a wind in Ithaca. Thanks to a comfortable south wind, Ithaca was warmed nicely yesterday morning, especially between the hours of 5 and 6 a.m., when temperatures jumped almost 10 degrees. Today, we will continue that trend. Under sunny blue skies, Cornell students can expect highs to finally cross the freezing mark and hit 35 on campus. Tonight, some clouds can be expected to move in and a flurry is expected late, as lows dip to around 20. Tomorrow is a bit of a toss up. Although temperatures will be the warmest in recent days, with a high around 40, snow showers will be a threat. The sun will reemerge for Friday, but the weekend is looking kind of cloudy right now. Check back tomorrow for a more accurate forecast and enjoy the sun while it’s out.

Billow Clouds

These are clouds which appear as if they are a series of breaking

ocean waves. They are produced by the interaction of a saturated

stable air layer, usually an inversion, and a pattern of vertical wind shear, which results in somewhat evenly spaced zones of updraft (where cloud tops crest in a wave-like pattern) and subsidence (where cloud droplets evaporate as they descind back to the stable layer). The height of the billows may vary from tens-to-hundreds of feet and they may be spaced hundreds to thousands of feet apart horizontally.

Some classic pictures of billows and other cloud formations are

available on the Internet at nature photographer Kay Ekwall’s web site: http://www.shastahome.com/kee/

(Source: Dr. Mark Seeley, of the University of Minnesota)

Archived article by Adam Daum