Weather Forecast


Weather Talk: Arctic air has a quality worth investigating

Arctic air has a quality. It has very little moisture in it, and because its source is a vast, largely unpopulated region, it is also very clean.

When arctic air is accompanied by a clear sky, which it often is, the air is as clear and as free of particulates as any air you will ever see. The daytime sky is a deep, almost dark blue. At night, the stars shine with a clarity not seen in milder weather.

Physically, arctic air is very dense, which affects how we hear. Sound waves travel faster and more efficiently in the cold. Meanwhile, snow on the ground, which is usually plentiful when the air is arctic cold, absorbs much of the little noises, so that we can hear more prominent sounds such as train whistles or the hoot of an owl with extreme clarity.

If you have never bundled up and taken a walk on a clear, calm 20 below night, I strongly and coldly recommend it.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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