Skip to content

Weather in Focus

By Chris DeWeese
Senior Editorial Writer
Good Morning. Our thoughts are with the people of Maui after deadly wildfires fanned by strong winds roared through parts of the Hawaiian island, forcing evacuations, decimating communities and taking at least 36 lives.

In the historic district of Lahaina, flames swept through so fast that a dozen people had to be rescued by the Coast Guard after jumping into the ocean to avoid them. The strong winds fanning the fires were partially the result of Hurricane Dora’s passage to the south of the islands, and as the storm moves farther away, the winds should settle, allowing firefighters to, hopefully, more easily contain the flames.

Weather In Focus

a map showing the pressure gradient over the Central Pacific Ocean.
This graphic shows how Hurricane Dora helped to induce strong winds over the Hawaiian Islands by enhancing a pressure gradient.

“The pressure gradient exists because wind quite literally must flow downhill from a dome of high pressure toward low pressure,” explains meteorologist Jonathan Belles. “Just like a ramp going downward from one level above to one below. The pressure gradient depends on the difference of pressure between two spots and the distance between those two spots. In this case, one of those spots is very strong – Category 4 Hurricane Dora.”

What We’re Tracking

  • Rounds of severe storms will plague parts of the South, Midwest and East into the weekend. Here’s what you need to know.
  • Hurricane Dora is an unusual storm. Read why.
  • The extreme heat in the South continues to be unrelenting. Here are the latest notables from Texas to Florida.

An old nautical term for the direction from which the wind is blowing is the _____ of the gale.

  1. Ear
  2. Eye
  3. Nose
  4. Teeth
See the answer at the end of this newsletter.

This Caught My Eye

Photograph of smiling meteorologist Chris Dolce wearing a flannel shirt. Chris Dolce
Senior Digital Meteorologist
this GIF shows satellite of wildfires in Hawaii.
Weather satellites are most commonly used to track cloud cover, but they have many other useful features thanks to advances in technology.

One such example this week is NOAA’s GOES-18 satellite seeing the hot spots from those destructive wildfires on Maui. The loop above shows where a special sensor onboard the satellite was able to detect heat from the fires, including in Lahaina on Maui’s western side.

This satellite sensor can give information about a fire’s location, size and intensity, even at night. Sometimes the sensor can even detect wildfires that break out before they are spotted on the ground.


Weather Words

‘Belt Of Venus’
a photograph of the belt of Venus at twilight.
(VW Pics via Getty Images)
Here’s a fascinating weather phenomenon you may have seen without even knowing you were seeing it. The Belt of Venus is the name for a transitional band of atmosphere that appears as a dark pinkish hue between the Earth’s shadow and the upper atmosphere just before sunrise or after sunset. It’s usually seen most prominently in the direction opposite the sun.

Interestingly, the Belt of Venus has nothing to do with the planet Venus. Rather, some historians believe it to be named after the legendary girdle worn by the goddess Venus. It’s caused by the atmosphere reflecting more light from the sun as it sinks (or rises) behind the horizon.


How To Help Your Pet During Extreme Heat

A dog drinks from a fountain.
(Didem Mente/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Extreme heat can be tough on all pets, not just furry ones. I spoke with Edward Narayan, a senior lecturer in animal science at the University of Queensland about what we can do to help our pets. Here’s our conversation, edited for brevity.
What can people do to help their pets during extreme heat?

People should be vigilant of the climate and environment in households. Working families may forget that it’s going to be a hot day given the busy schedules most of us have! So, it is important to check that weather forecast and be prepared if you leave your pet behind at home. Ensure the pet has access to shade, food and water, and that it does not get exposed to heat stress. There are simple steps that can prevent major health risks and ensure our pets are living a healthy life.

What are some ways climate change could impact pets?

As shown in my article here, the surrogate for climate change is the extreme heat waves that we experience around the world. This affects human health, but also pet welfare. In summary, heat stress can damage the physiology and behavior of pets, causing them to develop physical and behavioral problems such as reduced feed intake, erratic behaviors such as locomotion or swim impairment, and eventually, it can result in death.


1675: Royal Greenwich Observatory Built
A colored engraving of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich
A colored engraving of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, from 1723. (Wellcome Collection)
Three hundred and forty eight years ago today, King Charles II laid the foundation stone for the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Designed by renowned architect (and astronomer) Sir Christopher Wren, the building was finished the following year.

The Royal Observatory primarily used astronomy for navigational and timekeeping purposes. When the observatory started publishing The Nautical Almanac in 1767, it established the longitude at Greenwich as the baseline for time calculations, which led eventually in 1884 to the international adoption of the Greenwich meridian as Earth’s prime meridian.

D. Teeth
Remember: the teeth of the gale, the eye of the wind. Noses and ears don’t seem to come into it.

Leave a Comment