Wind Chill in Summer

Enjoying the summer wind chill – Photo: Pexels

The temperatures are climbing in Paradelle, as expected in summer. In winter, the weather report will tell us about how the wind chill affects temperatures. It is a pessimistic look at the weather. When it is 35 degrees (Fahrenheit here), a 10 mph wind makes it feel like 27. If it was already 30 degrees and the wind was at 20 mph it feels like 17 degrees. Brrrrr!

But I never hear about the wind chill in summer when we really could use some optimism. Wouldn’t t be nice on a 90-degree day to know that the 20 mph wind is making it feel like only 84 degrees? (My calculation here is pure guessing. Maybe someone out there can figure it out.)

You know that sitting in front of or below a fan on a hot makes it feel cooler. And a nice breeze on a hot day is comforting.

Can we start a movement to get meteorologists to add summer wind chill to their forecasts?


There have been several thunderstorms the past week and thunder means lightning. I know lightning is caused by imbalances between storm clouds and the ground, or within the clouds themselves, but part of me is still the child who was fascinated and frightened by it.

My house was hit by lightning when I was 10 years old. It hit our chimney and blew the bricks apart and started a small fire in our attic. The fire department came and doused the fire which was more of glowing wood and insulation than flames but the event had a big impact on me.

I wanted to learn more about these electrical discharges. There are many types of lighting: ball and bead, forked and sheet, superbolts and rocket lightning, crown flashes and anvil crawlers, staccato lightning, ribbon lightning, and more. My parents claimed that when I was a baby ball lightning came through a window of our house, rolled across the room, and exited on the opposite side of the house. I still doubt that but it did send me to books to see if such a thing was even possible.

Humans throughout history have been fascinated and frightened by lightning. It figures in theology and mythology. Those interpretations happened long before science could answer some of the questions about thunder and lightning or even before the two were known to be parts of the same thing.

Even in the era of Sir Isaac Newton (late 1600s and early 1700s) the science of electricity only covered a static charge and it was known as “electric magic.”

I remember reading in some novel about St. Elmo’s Fire which is named after St. Erasmus of Formia (also known as St. Elmo), the patron saint of sailors. It’s not lightning but this weird phenomenon can warn of an imminent lightning strike. This luminous plasma is created by a corona discharge from a rod-like object such as a mast (though it can also be a spire, chimney, or even an animal horn) in an atmospheric electric field. It is interesting that this very strange event was regarded by sailors with awe and sometimes considered to be a good omen.

Thor by Nico Wall

If you asked most people who is associated with thunder and lightning in religion or mythology, I suspect that Thor would be the top answer. But lightning also appears in the Abrahamic religions, Hindu, Shinto and traditional religions of African tribes.

Lei Gong is the god of thunder in Chinese folklore, and his wife, Dianmu, was the goddess of lightning.

In Native American stories, Thunderbird controlled the upper world and flapped his wings to create thunder to protect humans from the underworld. Lightning shot out of his eyes at the underworld’s monsters.

“If lightning is the anger of the gods,
then the gods are concerned mostly about trees.” ― Lao Tzu

As science came into being – and as I got older – we al learned that thunder wasn’t “God bowling” (as I heard in childhood) and lightning was not caused by Thor’s hammer. Colliding particles of liquid – rain, ice or snow – inside storm clouds increase the imbalance between storm clouds and the ground, and often negatively charge the lower reaches of those clouds. Ceratin objects on the ground – especially trees, building steeples (and chimneys!), but also the Earth itself, become positively charged. Nature wants to keep a balance and so a current (lightning) passes between the two charges.

“Computers can deliver nuclear explosions to precisely anywhere on earth.
A lightning bolt is made entirely of error.”
― Galway Kinnell

It seems so silly now that church bells forged before science informed us about lightning might have the inscription “Fulgura Frango” (I break up lightning flashes) because it was believed that ringing church bells could ward off lightning strikes. One theory was that ringing bells would change the air’s flow, breaking the lightning’s path toward church towers.

Every child learns at some point about the wise Benjamin Franklin and his foolishly dangerous kite and key experiments from the mid-1700s led him to conclude that lightning was electricity. He soon invented the lightning rod, which actually did save some lives and buildings.

Panorama photo during a lightning storm over Bucharest, Romania

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”
Mark Twain

La Nina Winter

I wrote last week about the interesting but unscientific prediction of a bad winter based on the acorn harvest which is one of many weather lore ideas. Someone contacted me to say they spotted “black deer” in their neighborhood and that predicts a bad winter. But on the more scientific but not always accurate side of predicting the weather, the NOAA has put out their notice on how La Niña may affect the winter of 2021-22 in America.

La Nina
A look at La Nina along the equator in the tropical Pacific Ocean in September 2021. (NOAA

In what is called a “La Niña winter,” the southern U.S. gets above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation. That could be bad news for the Southwest and areas dealing with a historic drought.

La Niña tends to have the opposite effect on the northern U.S., meaning lower than average temperatures with more snow and rain.

Even the NOAA folks add the caveat that a more exact forecast of temperature, snow, and rain isn’t possible until winter has arrived.

What is La Niña? It is when cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures along the equator indicate La Niña will develop. In September they saw it had developed and will extend through the second winter in a row according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. La Niña is a natural ocean-atmospheric phenomenon and is translated from Spanish as “little girl.”

In 2020, La Niña developed during the month of August and then dissipated in April 2021.

This Winter of Our Discontent

Photo by Simon Berger on

Weather is probably not your biggest concern this weekend with the election grabbing American headlines and the pandemic still the top concern around the world. But last month NOAA issued its annual winter outlook for the upcoming season and I have looked at that each year on this blog.

NOAA’s winter forecast for the U.S. favors warmer, drier conditions across the southern tier of the U.S., and cooler, wetter conditions in the North.

For Paradelle in 2020-2021 winter, they predict generally warmer than average temperatures, and near-average precipitation amounts. Their forecast this year was largely based on the continued presence of La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean.

La Nina is a water temperature anomaly in the Pacific Ocean and you might think that it wouldn’t have much of an effect on the east coast. Strong trade winds move warmer water away from the Americas and so colder water takes its place and that is less favorable for the production of storms. We have all seen that hurricanes and tropical storms gain strength over warm water.

October Weather Signals of the Winter Ahead

frosty pumpkins
Frost on the pumpkins might mean that the October Full Moon is also a frosty night.

My post about signs in nature of how intense the winter ahead will be always moves back up the stats list around the time of the autumnal equinox.

My friend, Maria, told me that her Italian mother believed that if there is a bumper crop of acorns in the fall, it means that we will have a bad winter. That’s one of many weather proverbs or nuggets of weather lore. My mother told me as a child that if leaves hang on in the autumn and are slow to fall, we should prepare for a cold winter. The little scientist in me as a child wondered if it wasn’t just because the fall was gentle and we didn’t have the wind or rain to shake the leaves loose from branches. But then I suppose you could say that a gentle autumn means a tougher winter.

Several bits of weather lore look to October weather to predict the winter to come:

  • Much rain in October, means much wind in December.
  • Thunder in the fall is supposed to foretell a cold winter ahead.
  • A warm October means a cold February.
  • A Full Moon in October without any frost means a warmer month ahead.
  • In late autumn and up until the Winter Solstice, flowers still blooming is a pleasant surprise but is supposed to be a sure sign of a rough winter to follow.

The general rules seem to be that a gentle preceding season means a colder one to follow. For example, I have read weather lore that says that a mild winter means a cold spring to come.

Do keep in mind that with all this weather lore, your local observations might be an indication of the local weather ahead and not about the country or the world. I am not a believer in the “official” winter forecasts you often see in the media about the winter ahead. Though they may be “scientific” they are so broad that the microclimates we all live in often are quite different.

The Season To Come

We don’t even have to pass through the equinox’s tilt into autumn before people start searching and finding a post I wrote here about signs in nature that might predict the winter to come. We want to know about things before they happen.

But weather is really difficult to predict too far in advance. All of us have watched or read a weather report at night for what tomorrow will be, and then found the actual day to be quite different. Maybe that is why some people seem to trust old weather lore that looks at nature for predictions.

People have been observing changes with insects, animals, birds, plants, the Moon and the stars and trying to connect that to the weather world around them. The problem with most predictions about weather, politics, the end of the world or anything is that we rarely go back months or years later to check on the predictions.

You can look back at the older posts and follow the instructions and do your own predicting. Just be sure to write it down and then check back when spring arrives. Did the predictions come true?

Did the black bands on a woolly bear caterpillar prove to be accurate?

What about those squirrels – gathering food early, bushy tails?

I did not notice any ant hills that were particularly high in July. So, winter should not be snowy. And yet, the first week in August was unusually warm, and that should mean that the coming winter will be snowy and long. Should we believe the ants?

The leaves have barely started to fall here. When leaves fall early, fall and Winter will be mild, but if they fall late,winter will be severe. Start falling leaves!

You can at least pay attention to what is happening in October:
– Much rain in October, much wind in December.
– A warm October means a cold February.
– Full Moon in October without frost, then no frost until November’s Full Moon.

And check the skins of corn (husks), apples and onions. The thicker they are, the tougher the winter. Do you notice a pattern here? When things in nature toughen up, they are getting ready for a tough winter.

Pay attention.