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Weather Talk: More sun means more melting, more potholes

You may have observed recently that our city streets have started turning wet and slushy during even the coldest of days.

If you have parked your car in the sun, you may have noticed the car's interior is noticeably warmer than it was in similar conditions a few weeks ago.

The difference is in solar radiation. It has been seven weeks since the winter solstice. Even on a cloudy day, the sun's rays are reaching the ground at a much higher angle and striking the ground much more directly.

The sun is roughly as high in the sky now as it was around Halloween last October. When the sun goes down at night, this radiational warming is lost, and the streets become icy again. Not only can this make for slippery roads, but it is also the principle cause of potholes in the streets.

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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