January’s spectacular sky: Mercury, meteors and 2 Supermoons 

Published: Tuesday, December 26, 2017 @ 8:08 AM

There is a lot happening in the cold January sky!

It is hard to believe 2017 is coming to a close in just a matter of days. You must admit, it has been an interesting year for weather.

From a record hurricane season to a spike in severe storms this year, it has been very busy. Ohio typically averages around 18 tornadoes per year, but 2017 saw more than 40.

One of the most talked-about events of the year was an event that took place high above the clouds. Who can forget the Great American Solar Eclipse back in August, which spanned from the west coast to the east coast?

» LATEST ON SKY EVENTS: #SkyWitness7 shows you when to see stars, meteors and other events

While the weather may have turned cold, the coming month of January will be quite busy in the night sky. There are several events to be on the lookout for during the first week of the new year.

On the morning of New Year’s Day, the planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 22.7 degrees from the sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

The very next day, the first of two Supermoons for the year will occur. The moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at around 9:24 p.m. local time.

» AMAZING PHOTOS: The December Supermoon, seen on social media

This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Wolf Moon because this was the time of year when hungry wolf packs howled outside their camps. If you live outside the cities, perhaps you have heard them yourself. The moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual on this day.

On Jan. 3 and 4, the Quadrantids meteor shower will be peaking with up to 40 meteors per hour. It is thought to be produced by dust grains left behind by an extinct comet known as 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003. The shower runs annually from Jan. 1-5. Unfortunately, the nearly full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year. If you are patient, you should still be able to catch some of the brightest ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky.

The month will end with a pretty spectacular show. On Jan. 31, the moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the sun, and its face will be will be fully illuminated. Since this is the second full moon in the same month, it is sometimes referred to as a blue moon. This is also the last of two Supermoons for 2018.

» WHAT ABOUT THIS WEEK? Frigid morning start all week, snow showers to arrive at week’s end

Again, the moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual. What will make this event even more spectacular is the fact that, if the weather cooperates, we’ll also get to see a total lunar eclipse right before the moon sets. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The best time to see this “blood moon” will be just before sunrise on that Wednesday morning.

While January likely may be too cold for many casual stargazers, any snow on the ground will make viewing of the stars and the moon on a clear night even more vivid. So let’s hope for some good weather to see a great show in the sky next month.

Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at eric.elwell@coxinc.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Winter Weather Advisory issued ahead of anticipated accumulating snow

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 3:34 AM
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 7:21 PM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini looks at the current timing and totals for snowfall this week.


  • Increasing clouds, rain/wintry mix develops tonight
  • Rain and snow changes to all snow late Tuesday 
  • Accumulating snow likely Tuesday night into Wednesday

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar


Tonight: Clouds will thicken tonight with rain showers developing, mainly after midnight, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Eric Elwell. Temperatures fall through the 50s and will be near freezing by Tuesday morning. Rain may change to freezing rain towards daybreak near or north of I-70

Tuesday: A wintry mix early will likely change over to a cold rain through the middle of the day with temperatures in the lower 40s. However, colder air will usher back in during the evening, causing the rain to change to snow. All snow is expected Tuesday night with accumulations likely. 

>> 5-Day Forecast

Wednesday: Snow will be likely early then taper off by midday. Snowfall accumulation will range from 2 to 4-inches with isolated areas picking up higher amounts. Clouds will linger through the day with gusty winds and temperatures in the middle to upper 30s. 

>> County-by-County Weather

Thursday: Skies will be mostly sunny with highs holding in the upper 30s.

Friday: Expect lots of sunshine with clouds increasing late. Highs will reach the middle 40s. 

Saturday: Clouds will thicken with a chance for rain or snow late in the day or evening. Highs will reach the lower 40s. 

Sunday: Expect a chance for rain or snow in the morning with conditions improving in the afternoon. Highs will rebound into the upper 40s. 

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WPAFB Monday Weather: Evening rain showers, wintry mix expected

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 12:01 AM

WRIGHT PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE—A cool start to the work week is expected, but temperatures are again expected to climb close to the middle 50s this afternoon, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar.

RELATED: County-by-County Weather

Most of today will be dry with clouds on the increase, but the chance for rain returns later this evening and tonight.

With temperatures falling below freezing around midnight, it’s looking like some of the rain may change over to a wintry mix.

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What is freezing rain and how is it different from snow and sleet?

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 2:31 PM

What is the difference between rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow? Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs has the answers.

During the winter months you may often hear about snow, sleet and freezing rain. 

Each has its own hazards, but freezing rain can create hidden dangers on the roads, more than the others. Unlike snow or sleet on pavement, freezing rain can appear wet, but is actually a sheet of ice and will leave no traction for drivers.

WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Freezing rain forms in the clouds just like snow, but it’s what happens after the snowflake leaves the cloud that changes everything. During a freezing rain event the air within the cloud is cold enough to produce a snowflake. 

If the snowflake falls into air below the cloud that is above freezing, it will melt into a raindrop. This droplet will continue to fall as rain as long as the environment remains above 32 degrees. 

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Since cold air is more dense than warm air, sometimes a thin layer of subfreezing air may settle to the surface cooling the ground. If this occurs, once the droplet hits anything that is below 32 degrees it will freeze on contact. Typically, elevated objects such as trees, overpasses and power lines are the first to accumulate ice. If freezing rain continues for an extended period of time, ice may become so thick that numerous accidents and power outages may occur.

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St. Patrick’s Day: Freezing rain could impact celebration

Published: Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 6:53 AM
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 1:27 PM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini breaks down the next system that can impact your St. Patty's Day.

A storm system will approach the Miami Valley just in time for St. Patrick's Day, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar. Early Saturday morning the system will bring freezing rain and possible ice acccumulation. 

Slick roads and icy sidewalks could be an issue beginning at 4am Saturday, and last through noon. 

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

  • Back roads and sidewalks may be untreated
  • Be aware of slippery surfaces if starting your party early
  • Winter Weather Advisory early Saturday so wear an extra layer for outdoor festivities. 


Prior to sunrise Saturday, freezing rain is set to move in from the west. This will become more widespread around sunrise and that’s when ice accumulation will start to become a big issue. This will continue through the morning hours but by 10am or 11am, we should start to see a transition over to rain as temperatures climb above freezing. Untreated surfaces however are likely to still be icy through lunch time.

>> 5-Day Weather Forecast

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