The Physics of Snowboarding

The Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea are underway. On Tuesday night, the world saw Shaun White win his third gold medal in the half-pipe snowboarding event.

Have you ever considered the science behind the sport?

Snowboarders have many factors at work as they travel up and down the half-pipe.

  • G-force: the force of gravity. When it comes to snowboarding, gravity pulls the athlete back into the half-pipe and he or she has to push back against gravity to fly high in the air.
  • Kinetic energy: the energy of motion. An athlete can get higher off of the half-pipe when this energy is greater.
  • Potential energy: stored energy. Potential energy decreases when the snowboarder moves along the halfpipe (as kinetic/movement energy increases). Maximum potential energy is realized when snowboarders reach their peak height off of the half-pipe.

The height of the half-pipe also comes into play. The higher the half-pipe, the more kinetic energy a snowboarder can build. The Olympic half-pipe is at least 20 feet high.

For more information, watch this video from previous winter Olympics from NBC Learn.


Posted under Miscellaneous

This post was written by Rachael Peart on February 14, 2018

The Olympics are almost here


Posted under Miscellaneous

This post was written by Schnack on February 7, 2018

Volcanic Eruption

One of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines erupted earlier this week.

Mount Mayon in the Philippines began spewing ash and lava after being on alert since last week. Due to the eruption this week, the alert level increased to a level four (out of a scale of five) and the area of concern expanded. Over 50,000 people moved to shelter camps due to the volcano.

Officials are urging residents to stay out of the danger zone as a more violent eruption is possible. Lava flows littered with debris pose a fatal danger to life and property.

The Philippines is located in the “Ring of Fire”, where most earthquake and volcanic activity occurs.

For video of the volcano earlier this week, click here.
For more information, click here.


Posted under Miscellaneous, Volcano

This post was written by Rachael Peart on January 24, 2018

Finally Above Freezing

We’ll call it our second “January thaw.”  Temperatures are finally above freezing, after a little more than 170 hours below 32° — that’s just a little more than 7 days.  On January 11th, a very strong cold front plowed through eastern Iowa early in the morning, taking temperatures in the 40s at midnight, to the teens and single digits by the evening hours.

The graphs below are plotting the temperatures roughly every hour from January 11th through the 18th.  Temperatures are forecast to remain above freezing, for highs, through the weekend and even early on Monday.  Temperatures are forecast to fall below freezing later Monday morning (but not as dramatic of a drop as January 11th).

Waterloo temperature graph January 11th-18th



Dubuque temperature graph January 11th-18th



Cedar Rapids temperature graph January 11th-18th


Iowa City temperature graph January 11th-18th


Posted under Miscellaneous, Temperatures

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on January 18, 2018

Monday Sundogs

The fresh fallen snow from Sunday night, coupled with the blowing snow and cold Monday and breaks in the clouds late in the day, many of us saw sundogs across eastern Iowa.  Here are some of the viewer photos sent in Monday.

Jodi Zimmer – Waterloo


Hannah Renae – La Porte City


Amber Barber


Brandi Thompson – Waverly


Carey Cowell – Plainfield


David Stuber


Deb Lyon – Buchanan County


Donna Rosonke – New Hampton


Vicki Van Hauen – Cedar Falls


Toni Hinrichs – Nashua


Roxy Anderson – Cedar Falls


Mike Weber – Dike


Lisa Hovey – Waterloo


Joseph Warrior


Laurie DeGroote – Butler County


Posted under Miscellaneous, Optics, Photo

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on January 15, 2018

It’s All Up From Here

Now that we have passed the Winter Solstice at 10:28 AM on Thursday (the exact moment the sun’s rays were directly over the Tropic of Capricorn), we will gain sunlight each day.  Over the next two months, we gain more than an hour and a half of sunlight.  More daylight and less darkness will continue through the Summer Solstice, which happens at 5:07 AM on June 21st.

If you want to look at the sunrise and sunset times for where you live, click here and type in your city or town in the search bar.




Posted under Miscellaneous

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on December 21, 2017

Snow in Hawaii

When you think of Hawaii, snow is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. However, early this week, parts of the Aloha State are seeing just that. The National Weather Service in Honolulu issued a winter storm warning for the volcanoes on the Big Island.

Snow in Hawaii happens every year. Any snow is confined to the volcanoes on the Big Island (Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea) as well as Haleakala on Maui. All of these summits reach at least 10,000 feet. Up to three additional inches of snow is expected on the summits of the Big Island.

Hawaii weather alerts as of 2:45 PM CST (10:45 AM HST). Winter storm warnings are in pink.

In lower laying elevations on the Big Island, rain is expected. All precipitation starts as snow high in the atmosphere. As the snow falls, the temperature typically increases and the snowflakes may melt partially or completely before reaching the ground. This is the case on the Big Island of Hawaii – higher elevations see the snow while lower elevations see the melted snow (aka rain).

Snow on Mauna Kea

The winter storm warning continues through 6PM HST (10 PM CST) Tuesday.

For webcams on top of Mauna Kea, click here.


Posted under Miscellaneous

This post was written by Rachael Peart on November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving Travel Weather

It’s one of the busier travel weeks of the year, as Americans head to their Thanksgiving destination to enjoy a good feast.

Here in eastern Iowa, the last couple years of weather on or around Thanksgiving have not been ideal.  Last year, we had rain the day before Thanksgiving, and on Thanksgiving itself it was pretty chilly with temperatures in the 30s and 40s and not much sunshine.  Two years ago in 2015, we had some heavy rainfall across the region the day before Thanksgiving, and even Thanksgiving itself.

This year, however, our weather is looking a little more tame.  Here’s the travel forecast for eastern Iowa if you’re hitting the road in eastern Iowa.  It will be a little chilly Wednesday, with seasonable temperatures on Thanksgiving itself.

If your travels take you elsewhere across the United States, overall, the weather shouldn’t be much of an impact.  Of course, if you’re flying, you’ll want to check in with your airport and airline ahead of time.



Posted under Forecast Discussion, Holiday, Miscellaneous

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on November 19, 2017

Good Night Sun….See You Next Year

Once the sun sets in Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Alaska tomorrow (18th) the next sunrise will not be until Jan 22, 2018.


Posted under Miscellaneous

This post was written by Schnack on November 17, 2017

Daylight Changes

The days have been getting shorter everyday with the nights getting longer since late June. Between the summer solstice in June and the winter solstice in December, more and more daylight is gradually lost.

We are now more than halfway between the summer and winter solstices. Eastern Iowa will lose more than six hours of daylight within the six month period. However, once we reach and pass the winter solstice (also known as the first day of winter), the days slowly become longer and nights shorter.

If you think nine hours of daylight is bad, imagine living in Barrow, Alaska. The northern most point in the U.S. will see the sunset on November 18, 2017 and the sunrise on January 22, 2018. That is over two months of darkness known as “polar night”.

2017 Sunrise and Sunset in Barrow, Alaska. Orange shades show days where sun never rises above the horizon through the end of the year


Posted under Miscellaneous, Weather Trivia

This post was written by Rachael Peart on November 14, 2017