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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published February 23 2013

Weather Talk: Active weather usually associated with jet stream

For a while there, the weather was pummeling us pretty hard. After a mild first half of winter, we got Arctic air starting Jan. 20-24 and again Jan. 30-Feb. 2. Then after a 5-inch snowfall Jan. 28, we were hit by a 10-inch blizzard on Feb. 10 and then a nasty ground blizzard on Feb. 18.

But weather is like that. It tends to go in bursts. This is because the most active weather is usually associated with jet stream, that river of air that gives storms extra energy and often separates polar air from the more tropical. The reason weather may go quiet for weeks or even months at a time and then suddenly go crazy is that the jet stream is not a steady state. It weakens and strengthens as it meanders north and south over the middle latitudes. When the jet is strong and over us, our weather becomes extremely active like it has been the past few weeks. For the moment, the jet has dropped southward and taken the active weather with it.


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