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Mississippi Weather and Climate

Mississippi Weather and Climate

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Mississippi Weather and Climate
    Book Description:

    From Hurricane Katrina to the Mississippi River floods of 1927 and 2011, and from a high temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit to a low of -19, Mississippi has seen its share of weather extremes. In fact, Mississippi's rainfall can be described in terms of "feast or famine." Even during the feast years, the rain may come at the wrong time for farmers to plant crops or in unwanted quantities. The Pearl River flood of 1979 is an example of too much rain falling over a short period of time with disastrous consequences. Mississippi Weather and Climate explores some of the reasons behind these extremes.

    The book begins with a look at the factors that shape Mississippi's climate and then moves into a discussion of normal weather conditions. Three chapters take a closer look at some of Mississippi's most dramatic weather. Historical events including the Candlestick Park tornado, Hurricanes Camille and Katrina, and the ice storms of 1994 and 1998 are described in more detail. The book details Mississippi's past climate as well as its projected climate and explores what the future may hold for residents of the state. Finally, the last two chapters reveal how the weather and climate affect people, from the way homes were built in Mississippi's early days and the types of plants that thrive or die here to the way weather information is collected and reported in the form of a local TV weather forecast. Mississippi Weather and Climate is a fascinating look at the science behind the weather and how natural events affect the people and land in the Magnolia State.

    eISBN: 978-1-61703-261-5
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VIII)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. XIII-2)
    (pp. 3-7)

    Before we get too far into what causes this or that aspect of weather or climate, it is a good idea to understand the difference between the two. Weather is the day-to-day changes in air pressure, cloud cover, temperature, humidity, and so on. Weather is what we experience when we go outside and what we watch on the local news. Climate is the average weather for a particular place. Each day has certain characteristics that, when averaged over a certain period of time, provide a picture of that place’s climate. The normal high and low temperatures for a given day...

    (pp. 9-31)

    Numerous factors influence the climate of a region, including its latitude, its location relative to water or whether it is in the middle of a large landmass, its location on the western or eastern side of a continent, the surrounding topography, and its elevation. The exact combination of these factors gives each place its unique climate and controls the range of possible daily weather. They explain why Phoenix, Arizona, is hot and dry, whereas Buffalo, New York, sees so much snow in winter. Climatological factors account for California’s Santa Ana winds and the tornado season of the Great Plains. Like...

    (pp. 33-43)

    On July 10, 1913, the temperature at Greenland Ranch, California (in Death Valley), was 134°F. On January 20, 1954, the temperature dropped to –69.7°F at Rogers Pass, Montana. These are the highest and lowest temperatures ever officially observed in the United States. By comparison, Mississippi’s highest and lowest official temperatures are 115°F on July 29, 1930, at Holly Springs and –19°F on January 30, 1966, at Corinth. Thus, while Mississippi recorded neither the hottest nor the coldest temperatures in the United States, it can still experience some very extreme temperatures. The occurrence of both the extreme records in the northern...

    (pp. 45-65)

    The basic source of Mississippi’s water resources is precipitation, which delivers moisture to the state. Mississippi is situated in a region where water is an abundant natural resource, with annual average precipitation ranging from about 51 inches in the north to about 64 inches on the coast, and a statewide average of about 56 inches. That statewide average over the state’s 30,538,240 acres produces a volume of 142,002,810 acre-feet of water delivered to the state by the atmosphere each year. This is a renewable natural resource of impressive dimension and extreme importance. If 56 inches of precipitation fell over the...

    (pp. 67-95)

    To Mississippians, dangerous and severe weather is a well-known part of the state’s climate. The state experiences thunderstorms on an average of 81 days per year, ranging from 56 in Montgomery County to 121 in Pearl River County. These thunderstorms produce an average of almost 10,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per year in each county, ranging from 5459 in Choctaw County to 19,446 in Jackson County. For the period 2001–2007, an astounding 5,643,965 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were recorded in the state of Mississippi. In addition, an average of 27 tornadoes is reported in Mississippi annually. For the period 1950–2006,...

    (pp. 97-126)

    Another weather hazard in Mississippi is the tropical cyclone. While hurricanes are primarily a coastal hazard, they have crossed the state with hurricane force as far north as Meridian and Greenville after moving through Alabama or Louisiana. Figure 6.1 shows the paths of those tropical cyclones that at one time were hurricanes that crossed the state. Not all of these storms made landfall in one of Mississippi’s three coastal counties, and they were not all hurricanes when they entered the state.

    To be considered a hurricane, a tropical cyclone must have sustained wind speeds of at least 74 mph. This...

    (pp. 127-142)

    Although summer is the dominant season in Mississippi, winter weather resulting in a significant accumulation of ice and snow is a recurring climatological trait in the state. Snow is generally minimal and is limited to December, January, and February, but several large snow and ice events have been recorded in Mississippi. Representative amounts of snow for the east-central part of the state are 0.1, 0.6, and 0.3 inches for December, January, and February, respectively. However, there are records of 4, 10, and 11 inches for the same months. These relatively small amounts of snow result in disproportionately large impacts in...

    (pp. 143-152)

    Earth is about 93 million miles from its source of energy, the sun. Only about 2 billionths of the sun’s energy output arrives in the vicinity of Earth, and about half of that amount is lost as it moves through the planet’s atmosphere to the surface. Yet this small fraction of the sun’s energy is sufficient to drive the processes that result in our planet’s hospitable environment, which allows life in a diversity of forms.

    The sun’s energy strikes a planetary surface that is about 71% water and 29% land. Interactions with these dissimilar surfaces produce differential heating and cooling...

    (pp. 153-167)

    Climatology is the study of the average and extreme weather conditions that a place experiences over a given number of years, whereas applied climatology examines the influence of climate on that place. This could include where we live, how we dress, and what we do for work or fun. More broadly, applied climatology can help explain how weather and climate impact the economy or the environment. One of the most important influences climate has in Mississippi is on agriculture, from the backyard garden to the large-scale farm.

    Mississippi generally has a long gardening season. The ground does not freeze for...

  14. 10. WEATHER INFORMATION: From Observation to Forecast to You
    (pp. 169-188)

    This book has shared a lot of information about weather and climate in the state of Mississippi. This last chapter provides the back-story. We look at how weather forecasts are made, how they are shared with the people who want them, and how weather was predicted before there were instruments to record the state of the atmosphere.

    The most common source of weather information for people is the television weather forecast, and the top source is local television. The weathercaster is the main face for weather information for many people. We watch them so regularly, sometimes it feels like we...

    (pp. 189-190)

    The year 2011 was a year of extremes in weather in many parts of the U.S., and the impact on Mississippi was severe. The historic Mississippi River flood of 2011 is a good example of how weather events all across the continent can affect the state. Record snow amounts fell across the northern parts of the Mississippi River Basin during the winter months then began melting in March. Continuous heavy rainfall joined the melting snow at the end of April over the same northern parts of the Mississippi River Basin, north Arkansas, south Missouri, and the Ohio River Valley. Over...

    (pp. 191-196)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 197-202)