Mississippi State University Weather


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3 Really Cool Hacks For When The Weather Gets Really Cool

Posted by on Oct 29, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

It may be hard to believe but we are diving deep into fall and before we know it, old man winter will be knocking on our doors.  Not only is winter on the horizon, but this winter is forecasted to be more harsh than usual because of the El Nino.  The El Nino is expected to bring below normal temperatures from the north and more moisture from the Gulf along with it.  This means a cooler, wetter winter which could lead to some nasty conditions this winter.  But, we didn’t have to wait until winter to feel a taste of it.  This fall, we have already seen temperatures in the 30’s for overnight lows in the Southeast and even some areas up north like New York and Chicago have even issued frost and freeze advisories!

So with the chilly weather coming, we have found 3 hacks that can keep you and your family warm and safe as the temperatures continue to fall.

1) Park towards the East


Blakemore, Charlotte. Top tips to de-ice your car windscreen.  Web.  28 Oct. 2015. <http://www.centralcontracts.com/news/top-tips-to-de-ice-your-car-windscreen-7005>

We have all been there. Running out to the car on a cold morning to scrape or defrost the ice off your car and be a burden.  It doesn’t even have to rain or snow the night before for there to be ice. Just simply having moisture in the air can easily coat a windshield. But, one trick can help with this problem. When a frost or freeze is expected, try parking towards the east before you go to bed.  The sun rises in the east.  This means when the sun starts to rise in the morning, your car will already face the same direction where the sun can insulate the windshield and start defrosting it without even having to turn on your car!  This will lead to safe driving in the morning and more money in your wallet with less gas usage.

2)  Set your ceiling fan on reverse


Ceiling Fan Savings. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.  <http://www.dadislearning.com/2013/08/05/ceiling-fan-savings/>

When the weather get cool at night, inside your home can easily get cool as well.  To cut back on the heating bill, this neat trick can help keep you and your family warm during the night.  If you set your ceiling fan on the low setting and in reverse (which is clockwise) it can help you stay warm.  Warm air rises, so if you set your ceiling can on reverse; it will take warmer air that is trapped near the ceiling back down to the floor.  This can help you stay warm and help your electricity bill because the heater won’t be needed as much.

3) Keep your bath water



Schuyler, Dan.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water: Health insurance exchanges make sense. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.<http://leavittpartners.com/2011/03/dont-throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bath-water-health-insurance-exchanges-make-sense/>

This may seem a little gross but your bath/shower water holds one thing that people really want this fall and winter: HEAT!  When you take a hot bath or shower, be sure to not drain the water, and also be sure to keep the bathroom door open.  The water holds a lot of heat that isn’t just going down the drain.  The warm water also can help humidify the dry air in your home. This helps your home stay warm and humid so you don’t catch a cold or get too dry during the chilly night.

With fall in full swing and the temperatures dropping, staying warm and battling the cold will start to become tougher.  With these hacks and more, you and your family can have an easier time dealing with the cold months ahead. If you have some cool hacks for the cold that you would like to share with us, you can comment them below! Also, to see how the El Nino will affect your winter ahead you can stay updated with Campus Connect and MSU weather for the latest updates.  ~Adam Bowles

Severe Weather 101

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

As summer turns into fall, the state of Mississippi and the Southeast US transitions into its secondary severe weather season. While the heaviest threat of severe weather is in March through May, late October into November also brings severe weather threats and is the second highest period where severe weather occurs across the southeast. The summer months give us a break so it’s always a good idea to refresh oneself on severe weather safety and information. Luckily, I’m here to do all the work for you so all you have to do is sit down or stand, I can’t tell you how to live your life, and read this blog. First let’s go over the different kinds of severe weather and their warnings and watches. First we have a severe thunderstorm. A severe thunderstorm is a storm that is producing damaging winds in excess of 58 mph and/or hail that is at least an inch in diameter (Quarter size) or larger.


Source: (WHOtv user submitted picture, NBC affiliate in Des Moines, IA)

Severe Weather 

Associated with severe thunderstorms are Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms and are represented by large yellow polygons. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means a storm is currently happening that meets the criteria of a severe thunderstorm and is represented by a much smaller yellow polygon that just covers the area near the storm.


Severe Thunderstorm Watch (Source: PIX 11 New York)


Severe Thunderstorm Warning (Source: Alabamawx.com)


Tornado Watches and Warnings follow the same look as Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Warnings except they’re red instead of yellow. A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for a forming storm or an existing storm to produce a tornado. Watches do not mean a tornado is currently happening, just that it’s possible, and to stay alert to the changing conditions and monitor local weather broadcasts or weather radios. A Tornado Watch usually covers a larger area than a Tornado Warning. A PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) Tornado Watch is a Tornado Watch that is issued when forecasters have a high confidence that multiple strong to violent tornados will happen. All the right ingredients for a large tornado outbreak have to be in place before a PDS Tornado Watch is issued. A Tornado Warning means that either a tornado has been detected using radar or by a confirmed storm spotter report. According to the National Weather Service, the average warn time for a tornado is around 13 minutes so it’s very important to take every warning seriously.

Tornado Safety 101:

  • Get to the lowest level of your home
  • Get to the inner most room: closet, bathroom, hallway
  • Put as much space between you and the outside walls as possible
  • Abandon cars & mobile homes: seek a sturdy shelter


Tornado Watch (Source: Fox News Insider)


Tornado Warning (Source: charliesweatherforecasts.blogspot.com)

Flash Flooding

The last type of severe weather event is one of the most deadly phenomenons in weather. Flash flooding. It only takes half a foot of water to sweep a car off the road if the current is strong enough. That’s why it is always important to turn around if there’s water covering a road. Flash Flood Watches mean that conditions are favorable for flooding to happen. Warnings mean flash flooding is already occurring and to move to higher ground or avoid flooded roads. Flash flood watches and warnings are composed of green polygons.

As the southeast gets further into fall, we’ll have to be ready for the occasional rounds of severe weather. It’s important to know the basics of severe weather safety and recognize the watches and warnings to keep you and your family safe. Always be ready to take action to get in a safe spot to avoid the damage that weather can do. Here are some tips on what to do in the instance of a tornado but these tips can also be applied to very strong straight line winds or large hail. ~Zach Holder


Florida, The Lightning Capital of the U.S.

Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Sunshine state, the prime vacation destination, and the home of the happiest place on Earth has yet another name to add to its extensive list and some may find it shocking. Florida is considered the lightning capital of the United State with an average of over one million cloud-ground strikes per year over the past 10 years. While Florida provides an excellent spot for a beach get-a-way, it also has the perfect recipe for lighting.


Vaisala. “National Lightning Detection Network 2005-2014 Flash Density per sq mile”. Image. Web. 14    Octo. 2015


The Ingredients:

Moisture: Located smack dab in the middle of two major warm bodies of water, the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida has some of the best weather around the U.S. In addition, it even has the Caribbean Sea to the south. All of the moisture from the surrounding water helps keep things thermally inert because of water’s high specific heat which is able to retain a large amount of heat. This is the reason that winters in Florida are warm and summers aren’t ridiculously hot. There aren’t too many places where you can celebrate Christmas in sandals rather than sweaters. While it keeps the temperatures from reaching unbearable high values, the humidity can reach extremely large values and the large amounts of moisture helps create instability.


Pearson Education. Inc. Image. Web. 16. October. 2015.   <http://www.geography.hunter.cuny.edu/tbw/wc.notes/3.temperature/ocean_currents.htm>

Heat: Florida being right near the tropics, specifically from 25°N to 31°N latitude, means that the sun warms the surface effectively. In addition to the direct heat that Florida gets from the sun, heat flows in from the Caribbean due to the Gulf Stream and easterly winds moving across the top of this surface current helps bring warm air directly onto the East Coast. With heat and moisture combined, the prime location within Florida for lightning to strike and cause significant damage is in the middle of Florida around Tampa and Orlando and at the southern tip near Fort Lauderdale.


National Atlas of the United States. “Lightning Spatial Hazard Events and Losses for the United States,   1995-2009.” Google Maps Engine. Image. Web. 16 Oct. 2015.

               Oct. 2015. <https://mapsengine.google.com/10446176163891957399- 05059728630781529877-4/mapview/?authuser=0>.

The Formation: 

Cumulonimbus (Tall, Storm Producing) Clouds:  

Much like how we like to cool off when we’re overheated, the surface wants to release the heat and does so through rising motion and the instability provided by the moisture helps the air to rise. As the hot air rises, it is able to cool off by expanding and releasing heat to the environment. Heat essentially acts as fuel for air to rise and the more heat that accumulates at the surface, the further the air can go vertically which means that clouds will continue to grow into large cumulonimbus clouds. Storm formation is amplified along Florida’s coast because of the quick change from air moving over water to interacting with the air over the land.


As Freddie Mercury said, “send a bolt of lightning, very, very frightening!” The temperature of a lightning bolt can get up to 50,000°F which is 5 times the temperature of the surface of the sun. That being said, lightning is extremely dangerous and any warnings concerning it need to be taken seriously.  Within a cumulonimbus cloud, ice crystals and water vapor will collide into each other and cause electric charges to form. These charges are the source of lightning and any strikes towards the surface are attempts to discharge the cloud. The two types of lightning, positive and negative, depend on the origin of the bolt, or leader, within the cloud.


Jensenius, John S. Jr.  “Types of Flashes.” Understanding Lightning. Image. Web. 15 Oct. 2015.  <http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/science/science_types_flashes.shtml>


Florida has the best blend of heat and moisture in the United States. It’s the only state that’s smothered with warm water influences from three sides- Atlantic water to the east, Caribbean water to the south, and Gulf of Mexico water to the west. It also sits right above the Tropic of Cancer and is ready to soak up some sunshine. These two ingredients mix to make a good amount of tall thunderstorms that can easily produce lightning. From safe conditions, this phenomenon is truly a spectacle as a light show sparks up the dark skies.  ~ Andrew Collins


Bay News 9. “Lightning over Orlando – Sunday, June 10, 2012 (Photo : Randy Young).” Storms bring heavy rain, lightning to Central Florida. 11 June. 2012. Photograph. Web. 16 Oct. 2015. <http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles /cfn/2012/6/10/more_sun_less_rain_e.html>


Crisp, Betsy. “When Lightning Strikes.” Solutions For Your Life. University of Florida, IFAS Extension.
5 Oct. 2015. http://pasco.ifas.ufl.edu/fcs/Lightning.shtml

Dwyer, Joe. “Lightning Expert: Q&A.” NOVAscienceNOW.(2005). PBS.org.Web. 5 Oct. 2015.

Mogil, H. Michael, and Kristen L. Seaman. “Florida’s Climate And Weather.” Weatherwise 61.6 (2008): 14-19. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.

Jensenius, John S. Jr. . “Thunderstorm Electrification.” Understanding Lightning. National Weather Service/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/science/science_electrication.htm

—. “Types of Flashes.” Understanding Lightning. National Weather Service/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/science/science_types_flashes.shtml

—. “Understanding Lightning Science.” Understanding Lightning. National Weather Service/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Web. 14 Oct. 2015. http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/science/science-overview.shtml