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How heavy is the Sun? Jupiter? The Earth?

Posted Mar 27th - 8:20pm by Dan Pope


I am going to use some very, very big numbers here to describe how heavy each of these objects are. When we have so many "zeros" we use magnitudes of power to describe the size. For example: 10 times 10 is 100; but this is the same as 10 to the second power (or 10 squared). If I use a number that has 10 to the 10th power, it means that 10 is multiplied by itself 10 times. That, Olivia, is a very big number.

Now, to the size of Earth. The Earth has a weight of 5.9737 times 10 to the 24th power in kilograms.

Will Lake Powell Rise This Year?

Posted Mar 25th - 5:12pm by Dan Pope


Earlier this year, and continuing today, the Bureau of Reclamation who runs Lake Powell (US Government) let out a huge volume of the Lake Powell water into Lake Mead. It dropped the level of Lake Powell and they are saying it will drop another two feet before the spring runoff starts to fill it.

Lake Powell, as you know, is used as a "bladder" for Lake Mead; and because of the water shortages in California, Arizona, Las Vegas…etc, it was determined to release a lot water all at once, to push the levels of Lake Mead to where it can service the needs of the downstream users.

Brightest Moon In Decades Saturday Evening, March 19, 2011

Posted Mar 18th - 8:52pm by Dan Pope


Wondering what time the moon is going to be rising over the mountains tomorrow night? I understand it is going to be full and very big. Is the weather going to be clear enough to view the moon at its biggest?

Mark Francis

Are Wind Gusts Higher Today Than In Years Past?

Posted Feb 23rd - 5:57pm by Dan Pope

Brian Young asks, "So am I just getting less tolerant and more annoyed at Mother Nature as I get older or have we really had more fierce, destructive winds in the last couple of years?" I'm not taking into account the necessity of wind… I'm not a big fan. Messes with my contacts, gives me a headache, damages my property, makes me have to clean up my neighbor's leaves…. I'm just not a not a big fan. I DO however like when it cleans an inversion out of the atmosphere, but would prefer it does its job at 20,000 feet instead of where I'm standing. Anyway, it seems to me that 1) we've not only had more wind than normal, but 2) it's been more destructive.

Is that the case… or am I, as my children keep telling me, just getting old and ornery…?


Not Much Snow In Torry-Teasdale & Boulder Mountain

Posted Feb 14th - 11:19am by Dan Pope

From Dana Landale

Dear Kevin, Dan, Len, Jodie... You folks always talk about the big snow totals across the state and show photos of deep snow. I just thought I'd let you know that the Torrey-Teasdale-Boulder Mountain area has been very dry. Why?

Weird Lights Over Sugarhouse

Posted Feb 11th - 8:27pm by Dan Pope

(From Roger)

Hi Dan I observed 14 lights last night in the area east of Sugarhouse last night at 9:30 PM - did you hear anything about it. The lights were very uniform in appearance and were a very bright orange and very large, they had a design in the center of each lights that was lighted also. After several minutes they separated two by two and climbed higher in to the north sky until , two by two, they blinked out. I was wondering if someone was setting off balloons of some type that were illuminated. Not to be facetious but could you shed any light on this phenomena? My wife and I and my son observed the lights.


Snow & Thunder?

Posted Feb 11th - 5:49pm by Dan Pope


Thunderstorms in the summer reach elevations over 50,000 feet. Winter cold fronts with thunder rarely reach over 22,000 feet. The greater the distance a rain drop or snow flake gets (charged positively or negatively) from the ground, charged oppositely, the greater the number of lightning strikes. So, winter thunder and lightning is unusual, but it does happen with strong fronts.


How Clouds Are Formed

Posted Jul 31st - 11:17pm by Dan Pope

Dust particles and other fine particulate act as condensation nuclei (where water in the gas stage can condensate onto something). Dust is a good example of something that acts as a condensation nuclei. One thing that works well is "Silver Iodide", which is something scientists use to cloud seed to make rain. But it is somewhat expensive to drop into the clouds. At the Salt Lake Airport in the winter time when fog forms, they take Frozen Carbon Dioxide (dry ice) and grind it up and drop it out of the back of an airplane to cause the fog droplets to freeze and turn into snow and fall the the ground.

You can learn more about this subject here:

Why Is It So Windy In St. George This Summer?

Posted Jul 31st - 11:10pm by Dan Pope


My experience is that during the hot summer months, southwest winds develop about every afternoon as the hot air rises up the Pine Valley Mountains and is pulled through the Virgin River Gorge. I've seen it happen for years, but typically it is an afternoon and early evening wind. Lately, there have been more storms in the area that have caused significant microburst wind activity. I would presume this is what you are referring to and I think you can blame a lot of what you are seeing on this.

The air heats up with the rising sun, and it is especially true on the slopes of the Pine Valley Mountains. The air pushes up along the hills and over the tops of the peaks. This air is replaced by air coming from the southwest and is likely funneled from and through the gap in the Beaver Dam Mountains and the Virgin River Gorge. Some of the wind is also moving up into the Zion N.P. area as the air rises there too. In the evening when the sun goes down, the air on the Pine Valley Mountains is cooler and heavier and it returns down the mountain side and the strong afternoon/evening winds quickly die off. However, if there are storms in the area, frequently these winds will continue well into the night. See if you are recognizing the winds long after sunset and this likely is coming from the microbursts from storms in a 150 to 200 mile radius of SW Utah. If the winds die off after sunset, then it is the diurnal (daily) wind patterns you see in the hot summer in St. George.

Explanation of how a storm develops

Posted Jul 31st - 10:53pm by Dan Pope


Storms strengthen by a combination of several factors.

1) Abundant moisture

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