Wessel Wessels

Author Archives: Wessel Wessels

Lifelong weather enthusiast and researcher. Interested in all things weather-related, and how global climate and local weather interact. Owner of multiple home weather stations for almost two decades, but still learning and expanding his knowledge base every day. He is dedicated to sharing his expertise and knowledge to get more people involved and interested in both their local and global weather and how it interacts with climate on a worldwide scale. Love sharing my knowledge on home weather stations, how they work, and the many ways you can use them to your advantage. All in all, he is just a bit of weather nerd.

Facts About The Thermosphere: What It Is, And It’s Defining Characteristics

Facts About The Thermosphere

It may be one of Earth's outermost atmospheric layers, but the importance of the thermosphere should not be underestimated. But what exactly is the thermosphere, and what are its characteristics?

The thermosphere is one of the 5 layers of the atmosphere, situated above the mesosphere and below the exosphere at an altitude of 90 km (56 miles) to approximately 1000 km (621 miles). It is the hottest atmospheric layer and the part of the atmosphere where the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) occur.

Situated close to the boundary between the atmosphere and space, the thermosphere is only separated from outer space by the exosphere, Earth's fifth, and outermost layer.

Although Earth's fourth atmospheric layer has very few characteristics in common with the three layers closer to the planet's surface, it still has a valuable role to play.

We examine not only what the defining characteristics of the thermosphere are but also the facts that separate it from the other four layers of the atmosphere.

Thermosphere Definition

Diagram Of The Thermosphere

The thermosphere is the last atmospheric which characteristics carry any resemblance to the rest of the atmosphere as we know it. Above its upper boundary, the exosphere blends seamlessly into the vacuum of space.

It was already briefly described during the introduction, but in order to examine the thermosphere in more detail, a more comprehensive definition is required.

What Is The Thermosphere?

What Is The Thermosphere

The thermosphere is the third layer of the atmosphere, situated above the mesosphere and below the exosphere at an altitude of 90 km (56 miles) to 1000 km (621 miles).

The meteorological phenomenon, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), occurs in this layer at heights of 150 km (93 miles) and above.

It is also considered the atmosphere's hottest layer, with temperatures reaching 2000° Celsius (3632° Fahrenheit).

The thermosphere is situated just above the mesosphere, with a thin layer of air called the mesopause separating the two layers. It reaches up to the exosphere, with another thin layer of air called the thermopause separating them.

The name of the thermosphere is derived from the Greek word, θερμός (thermos), meaning heat. (Referring to the high temperatures reached in the layer.)

At 513 km (319 miles), it is the thickest of the atmosphere's four inner layers and thicker than the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere combined. (But not as thick as the exosphere that stretches for thousands of miles into space.)

International Space Station

By some definitions, space starts at 100 km (62 miles) above Earth, so it is not surprising that the thermosphere is seen as part of outer space in many circles. The air is extremely thin at this altitude, where the Earth's gravitational pull is also greatly reduced. 

Due to these characteristics, this is a highly utilized part of the atmosphere where over 800 active satellites orbit the planet, and it is also home to the International Space Station (ISS). 

(Not to mention the large number of space debris also orbiting in the thermosphere.)  

One of the most well-known characteristics of the thermosphere is the presence of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), the spectacular meteorological phenomenon that occurs over regions in the Arctic Circle.

Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis is a result of charged particles from the sun colliding with gaseous particles in the thermosphere. This causes the colorful light display observers in the Northern Hemisphere are so familiar with. (Green is one of the common colors created.)

Another unique feature of the thermosphere is the extremely high temperatures that occur within this layer. With temperatures reaching up to 2 500° Celsius (4 530° Fahrenheit), the thermosphere is the hottest of all the atmosphere's layers by a huge margin.

The temperature is not constant, though. Between day and night, an average difference of 200° Celsius (360° Fahrenheit) can occur. The amount of solar radiation also has a direct influence on the temperature, causing as much as a 500° Celsius (900° Fahrenheit) variation.

You will also not be able to feel the extremely high temperatures this layer experience. The air is so thin that it basically resembles a vacuum,  with no particles/atoms in the air to conduct the heat.

The stratosphere is well-known for containing the important ozone layer, which is essential for protecting life on Earth from the Sun's deadly UV radiation. The thermosphere, though, also plays a role in protecting the planet from solar radiation.  

It absorbs a large amount of incoming Ultraviolet and X-ray radiation, which emphasizes the importance of this layer. The incoming solar rays interact with gas molecules during the absorption process, which contributes to the high temperatures reached within this layer.

A large portion of the Ionosphere also falls within the thermosphere since ions are created when Ultraviolet Radiation causes the photoionization of molecules.

Facts About The Thermosphere

The following list highlights the characteristics and facts of the thermosphere in more detail.

  1. 1
    The thermosphere is the fourth layer of the atmosphere (above the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere.)
  2. 2
    It extends from a height of approximately 90 km (56 miles) to 1000 km (621 miles) above the Earth's surface.
  3. 3
    It borders the mesosphere below through a thin transitional space called the mesopause.
  4. 4
    It borders the exosphere above through a thin transitional space called the thermopause.
  5. 5
    It is the part of the atmosphere where low-orbiting satellites and the International Space Station are found.
  6. 6
    The thermosphere is the hottest of the five atmospheric layers, with temperatures reaching up to  2 500° Celsius (4 530° Fahrenheit).
  7. 7
    It is home to the meteorological phenomenon, the Aurora Borealis (also known as the Northern Lights).
  8. 8
    A large part of the Ionosphere is located in the thermosphere.
  9. 9
    Like the stratosphere, the thermosphere plays an important part in protecting the planet from the Sun's dangerous UV and X-ray radiation through absorption.
  10. 10
    It is the thickest of the four inner atmospheric layers at 513 km (319 miles)
  11. 11
    The layer is characterized by the presence of atmospheric waves (similar to those experienced in our oceans.)
  12. 12
    It makes long-distance radio communication possible by allowing radio waves to bounce off the ions in the layer allowing it to travel over longer distances.

Although this list does not contain all the data available about the thermosphere, it highlights the key facts and characteristics of this layer.

Conclusion

Like the three atmospheric layers below it, the thermosphere has a vital role to play in protecting the planet and all life in it, as this article illustrated.

Although it only has a fraction of the gas and other particles present in lower layers, the thermosphere is situated at the ideal height for low-obit space utilization and contains enough gas molecules to absorb a significant amount of dangerous solar radiation.

If you are interested in the complete structure and make-up of the atmosphere, this article covers all five atmospheric layers and their relation to each other in more detail.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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Facts About The Stratosphere: What It Is And Its Defining Characteristics

Facts About The Stratosphere

The atmosphere consists of five distinct layers, with the stratosphere being one of them. But what exactly is the stratosphere, and what are its defining characteristics and facts?

The stratosphere is one of the 5 layers of the atmosphere, situated above the troposphere and below the mesosphere at an altitude of 10 km (6 miles) to 50 km (30 miles). It is the only atmospheric layer where temperature inversion occurs and part of the atmosphere where the ozone layer is situated.

It is easy & understandable to view our atmosphere as a continuous layer of air. However, it is made up out of five different layers: The troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. This article focus on the stratosphere, Earth's second layer. 

It not only examines what the stratosphere is but also looks at the characteristics or facts that define it.

Stratosphere Definition

Stratosphere

The stratosphere is situated just above the troposphere, with a thin layer of air called the tropopause separating the two layers. It reaches up to the mesosphere, with another thin layer of air called the stratopause separating them.

Like the other atmospheric layers, it does not have a fixed height but starts at an altitude of approximately 10 km (6 miles), extending up to a height of roughly 50 km (30 miles). It is also roughly 35 kilometers (22 miles) thick.

It is the only atmospheric layer where temperature inversion takes place. It means temperatures rise as altitude increases in this region, unlike the other four layers, which are characterized by a drop in temperature as altitude increases.

Close to the tropopause, temperatures start at approximately -51° Celsius (-60° Fahrenheit) and continue to rise until reaching the stratopause, where temperatures reach -15° Celsius (5° Fahrenheit).

The stratospheric air is extremely thin and dry since the vast majority of atmospheric gases (and weather activity) are limited to the troposphere. This is due to gravity, but mostly due to the temperature inversion in the tropopause that prevents gases from entering the layer.

As a result, the air in the stratosphere is about 1000 times thinner in the stratosphere than at sea level in the troposphere.

aircraft

However, this feature allows commercial airliners to fly in the lower stratosphere while traveling faster and save fuel. The lack of particles in the air causes less friction to hold an aircraft back, which requires less power to travel faster and further.

(The lack of weather activity in the stratosphere also allows aircraft to avoid adverse weather conditions by flying in the lower stratosphere above the weather.)

Since almost weather activity is limited to the troposphere and almost no water vapor is present in the stratosphere, Polar Stratospheric Clouds is the only visual meteorological phenomenon that can be observed in the stratosphere. 

nacreous clouds

Also known as Nacreous Clouds, these unique clouds develop near the poles at an altitude of 15 - 25 kilometers (9 - 15 miles) during the winter months. They are a combination of supercooled water and nitric acid that develop at very low temperatures.\

(Learn more about Nacreous or Polar Stratospheric Clouds in this article.) 

The stratosphere is home to the ozone layer, which is a thin layer of concentrated ozone which plays an essential role in protecting the Earth from dangerous solar radiation. It acts as a giant sponge and absorbs the vast majority of the sun's dangerous Ultraviolet Light. 

(The ozone layer is too large a topic for this article, but you can read more about it in the  following post.) 

One of the most surprising things about the stratosphere is not its characteristics but about what you find in this layer. Certain bird species like the common crane, whooper swan, and the Rüppel's griffon vulture are capable of flying in the lower stratosphere.

Although it is situated above the upper reaches of conventional aircraft, scientists are still able to study it through the use of weather balloons, high-altitude aircraft, and also weather (sounding) rockets.

Air circulation within the stratosphere is dominated by the Brewer-Dobson Circulation, which is a single-celled air movement that stretches from the Poles to the Equator.

Facts About The Stratosphere

The following list highlights the characteristics and facts of the stratosphere in more detail.

  1. 1
    The stratosphere is the second layer of the atmosphere (above the troposphere.)
  2. 2
    It extends from a height of approximately 10 km (6 miles) to 50 km (30 miles) above the Earth's surface.
  3. 3
    It borders the troposphere below through a thin transitional space called the tropopause.
  4. 4
    It borders the mesosphere above through a thin transitional space called the stratopause.
  5. 5
    It is the only layer of the atmosphere where temperature inversion occurs (a drop in temperature as altitude increases.)
  6. 6
    The air in the stratosphere is about 1000 thinner than the air at sea level in the troposphere.
  7. 7
    The ozone layer is situated within this layer.
  8. 8
    Commercial airliners fly in the lower stratosphere to avoid the weather, travel faster, and save fuel.
  9. 9
    Polar Stratospheric Clouds develop in this layer near the poles at an altitude of 15 - 25 kilometers (9 - 15 miles) during the winter.
  10. 10
    Brewer-Dobson Circulation occurs in the stratosphere.
  11. 11
    The layer is approximately 35 kilometers (22 miles) thick.
  12. 12
    Certain swans, cranes, and vultures can fly in the lower stratosphere. 

This list does not contain all the data available about the stratosphere but highlights the key facts and characteristics of this layer.

Conclusion

As this article clearly illustrated, the stratosphere has a crucial role to play in maintaining the atmosphere and all life in it.

It sets it apart from the other atmospheric layers by temperature rising instead of dropping as altitude increases, a process called temperature inversion.

The importance of the stratosphere is highlighted by the presence of the ozone layer, without which no life on Earth will be possible.

If you are interested in the complete structure and make-up of the atmosphere, this article covers all five atmospheric layers and their relation to each other in more detail.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  clicking on this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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Facts About The Mesosphere

Facts About The Mesosphere

The atmosphere consists of five distinct layers, with the mesosphere being one of them. But what exactly is the mesosphere, and what are its characteristics?

The mesosphere is one of the 5 layers of the atmosphere, situated above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere at an altitude of 50 km (30 miles) to 85 km (53 miles). It is the coldest of the atmospheric layers and the part of the atmosphere in which meteoroids and space debris burn up.

Although our atmosphere looks like one continuous piece of sky, it is made up out of five distinctly different layers: The troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. In this post, we focus on the mesosphere, Earth's third most outer layer. 

This article not only examines what the mesosphere is but also look at the characteristics or that define it.

Mesosphere Definition

mesosphere structure

The mesosphere is situated just above the stratosphere, with a thin layer of air called the stratopause separating the two layers.

Like the other atmospheric layers, it does not have a fixed height but starts at an altitude of approximately 65 km (40 miles), extending up to a height of roughly 85 km (53 miles)

It is also the coldest of the five layers with its upper boundary, called the mesosphere, reaching temperatures as low as -90° Celsius (-130° Fahrenheit). This region is the coldest part of the planet's atmosphere.

Temperatures drop as altitude increases in this space, unlike the stratosphere, which is characterized by temperature inversion (a rise in temperature as altitude increases.)

"Mesosphere" is derived from the Greek word mesos sphaira, meaning "middle sphere." It is a very apt description since the mesosphere is situated in the middle of the five layers (with the troposphere and stratosphere below, and thermosphere and exosphere above it.)

Scientists know very little about this layer since it lies at a height above the upper limits of conventional aircraft but below the region where low-orbiting satellites can operate. One of the only ways to study this part of the atmosphere is by using sounding rockets.

(You can learn more about sounding/weather rockets in this article.)

Meteor Shower

What we do know, however, is that it is within this layer that the vast majority of meteoroids and space debris burn up. As a result, the mesosphere contains a fairly high amount of iron and other metallic particles.

Another feature of the mesosphere is the presence of atmospheric tides and planetary waves. These waves start in the troposphere and eventually spreads into the mesosphere.

(In the mesosphere, the waves/tides become unstable and dissipate, creating momentum in the process. It is this momentum that drives global circulation to a great extent.)

Although almost all weather-related activity is limited to the troposphere, a rare weather phenomenon called noctilucent clouds can be found in this layer at a height of approximately 80 km (50 miles.)

Facts About The Mesosphere

The following list highlights the characteristics and facts of the mesosphere in more detail.

  1. 1
    The mesosphere is the third layer of the atmosphere (above the troposphere and stratosphere.)
  2. 2
    It extends from a height of approximately 65 km (40 miles) to 85 km (53 miles) above the Earth's surface.
  3. 3
    It borders the stratosphere below through a thin transitional space called the stratopause.
  4. 4
    It borders the thermosphere above through a thin transitional space called the mesopause.
  5. 5
    It is characterized by a drop in temperature as altitude increases.
  6. 6
    It is the coldest of the five atmospheric layers, with temperatures dropping to -90° Celsius (-130° Fahrenheit) in the mesopause.
  7. 7
    Meteoroids and other small space debris burn up in this layer.
  8. 8
    sodium layer 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) thick can be found in the upper regions of the mesosphere. 
  9. 9
    Electrical discharges, called lightning sprites (also know as ELVES or red sprites), are visual phenomena that occur in the mesosphere.
  10. 10
    A rare visual phenomenon called noctilucent clouds occurs at a height of approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) in the upper mesosphere.
  11. 11
    Although not as effective as the stratosphere, a significant amount of solar radiation is also absorbed in this layer.
  12. 12
    Combined with the stratosphere, it is often referred to as the Middle Atmosphere.
  13. 13
    It is the least known of all layers due to its limited accessibility.

This list does not contain all the data available about the mesosphere but highlights the key facts and characteristics of this layer.

Conclusion

Although it may be the least-known layer in the atmosphere, as this article illustrated, a fair amount of valuable information has already been obtained to help better understand the mesosphere and its importance much better.  

The third and coldest layer of the atmosphere has just an important part to play as any of the other four atmospheric layers. This article highlighted the importance of the mesosphere, as well as examining its defining characteristics.

If you are interested in the complete structure and make-up of the atmosphere, this article covers all five atmospheric layers and their relation to each other in more detail.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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Difference Between Land Breeze And Sea Breeze

Difference Between Land Breeze And Sea Breeze

You may have heard about a land breeze and sea breeze, especially during weather forecasts when weather near the coast is discussed. But what exactly is the difference between them?

A land breeze blows from the land towards the sea during the evening as a result of the ground cooling down faster than the adjacent water surface, while a sea breeze blows from the sea towards the land during the day as a result of the ground warming up faster than the adjacent water surface.

This definition, though, only scratches the surface of how and why these two weather occurrences differ. This article takes a closer look at each meteorological phenomenon, what they are, and how they develop to better understand their differences.

What Is A Land Breeze?

Land Breeze

A land breeze is a wind that forms where the land and a large body of water meet. It usually occurs overnight and early morning when the land bordering the water cools down faster than the water's surface. The resulting wind blows from the land towards the water.

Like a sea breeze, a land breeze does not only occur on the coast between the land and sea but on the boundary where any piece of land and a large body of water meet. This includes lakes, large dams, and inland seas.

Since a land breeze originates over land, it is generally relatively dry and contains less moisture (humidity) than a sea breeze that originates over water where more evaporation takes place. 

Exactly why a land breeze blows towards the water and occurs during the evening can best be explained by looking at its development.

How A Land Breeze Form

The following steps show how a land breeze develops, which will help to explain its unique behavior compared to a sea breeze. 

  1. 1
    After sunset, both the land and the sea start cooling down. The characteristics of the land surface allow it to cool down more rapidly than the body of water.
  2. 2
    As a result, a high-pressure system forms overland, while the warmer surface water leads to the formation of a low-pressure system over the bordering body of water.
  3. 3
    Wind always blows from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. This means that the wind blows from the land towards the water during this period.
  4. 4
    The resulting dry wind that blows from the shore towards the body of water is called a land breeze (also known as offshore wind).

As will be illustrated later on in this post, the opposite takes place during the formation of a sea breeze.

What Is A Sea Breeze

Sea Breeze

A sea breeze is a wind that forms where the land and a large body of water meet. It usually occurs during the day and early evening when the land bordering the water warms up faster than the water's surface. The resulting wind blows from the water towards the land.

Like a land breeze, a sea breeze does not only occur on the coast between the land and sea but on the boundary where any piece of land and a large body of water meet. This includes lakes, large dams, and inland seas.

Since a sea breeze originates over water, it contains more moisture (humidity) as a result of evaporation, compared to a land breeze that is relatively dry due to its formation over land. 

Exactly why a sea breeze blows towards the land and occurs during the day can best be explained by looking at its development.

How A Sea Breeze Form

The following steps show how a sea breeze develops, which will help to explain its unique behavior compared to a sea breeze.

  1. 1
    After sunrise, both the land and the sea start to heat up. The characteristics of the land surface allow it to warm more rapidly than the body of water.
  2. 2
    As a result, a low-pressure system forms overland, while the warmer surface water leads to the formation of a high-pressure system over the bordering body of water.
  3. 3
    Wind always blows from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. This means that the wind blows from the water towards the land during this period.
  4. 4
    The resulting humid wind that blows from the body of water towards the shore is called a sea breeze (also known as onshore wind).

Offshore Wind vs Onshore Wind

The following diagram highlights the key differences between a land and sea breeze.

Land Breeze

Sea Breeze

Blows from the land towards a body of water.

Blows from a body of water towards the land.

A high-pressure system forms over land.

A low-pressure system forms over land.

A low-pressure system forms over the surface water.

A high-pressure system forms over the surface water.

Occurs during the evening and early morning.

Occurs during the day and early evening.

Contains less moisture (humidity) than a sea breeze.

Contains more moisture (humidity) than a land breeze.

Also known as an offshore wind.

Also known as an onshore wind.

Conclusion

Although both a land and sea breeze occur on the boundary between a stretch of land and a body of water, this is where the similarity between the two phenomena ends.

The characteristics of a solid piece of land allow it to warm up and cool down much faster than a large body of water that reacts much slower. 

It is these dramatically different characteristics that allow for the formation of a land breeze during the evenings and a sea breeze during the day.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  clicking on this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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Cyclones And Anticyclones: What Is The Difference?

Many of us are familiar with the term, cyclone, but few observers know or even heard of the term, anticyclone. It is important to understand that there is a significant difference between the two.

A cyclone is a wind pattern circulating a low-pressure system, counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere & clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, and is associated with stormy weather. An anticyclone circulates a high-pressure system, clockwise in the Northern & counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, and is associated with fair weather.

This description is rather short and cryptic but will help to establish the fundamental differences between these to weather phenomena. We will discuss and define it in more detail shortly.

To create a better understanding of these two weather phenomena and how they differ, we will define what precisely each occurrence is, and then also look at their characteristics. 

Additionally, we also provide a detailed list, breaking down the primary differences between the two weather occurrences.

Difference Between A Cyclone And Anticyclone

The difference between a cyclone and anticyclone was already summarized during the introduction, but a more elaborate explanation will help better understand how the two phenomena differ.

What Is The Difference Between A Cyclone And Anticyclone

Cyclones vs Anticyclones

A cyclone is a wind pattern that circulates a low-pressure system. It rotates counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. It is typically associated with wet and stormy weather.

An anticyclone is a wind pattern that circulates a high-pressure system. It rotates clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. It is typically associated with dry and fair weather.

The difference in the direction the winds rotate in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere is a direct result of the Coriolis Effect, which causes the wind to deflect to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the right in the Southern Hemisphere.

(Read more about the Coriolis Effect in this article.)

Why these differences between a cyclone and anticyclone occur will become more evident as one takes a closer look at the formation and characteristics of each one.

Definition And Development Of A Cyclone

As already described, a cyclone is a wind pattern circulating a low-pressure system, counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere & clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Cyclone

Most cyclones (and all their variations) form over the warm waters of the Tropics. As the warm, humid air starts to rise, it leaves an area of low pressure close to the surface.

Since winds blow from a high-pressure to a low-pressure system, they rotate and diverge from the sides into this area of low pressure. This creates the familiar cloud pattern that we see with hurricanes, typhoons, and other tropical cyclones.

As the moist & humid air continues to rise, it cools down, and the water vapor can no longer stay in its gaseous form. As a result, condensation takes place, leading to cloud formation, which is usually accompanied by heavy precipitation.

Definition And Development Of An Anticyclone

As already described, an anticyclone is a wind pattern circulating a high-pressure system, clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere & counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Anticyclone

Sometimes, the surface over which a body of air resides starts to cool down. It may be a result of land cooling down quickly due to a lack of solar radiation, or as a result of a mass of air moving in over cold ocean waters.

In turn, this cools the air down. As it cools down, the particles in the air contract and moves closer together due to a loss of energy. This causes the air to become heavier, putting more pressure on the surface below, which results in the creation of a high-pressure system.

As mentioned, winds blow from a high-pressure to a low-pressure system. In the case of an anticyclone, it blows and diverges away from the center of the high-pressure system. This results in the clear & fair weather one typically experience in the presence of an anticyclone.

Cyclone vs Anticyclone: The Key Differences

The following table highlights the key differences between a cyclone and anticyclone. 

Cyclone

Anticyclone

Also known as Lows

Also known as Highs

Circulates a low-pressure system

Circulates a high-pressure system

Winds converge towards the center of the storm

Winds diverge away from the center of the storm

Winds circulate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere

Winds circulate clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere

Winds circulate clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere

Winds circulate counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere

Associated with wet and stormy weather conditions

Associated with dry and fair weather conditions

Commonly occurs in the Tropics and Subtropics

Commonly occurs in the northern parts of North America and Asia

Conclusion

As this article clearly illustrated, there are some clear differences between a cyclone and anticyclone. Both weather phenomena are characterized by wind circulation around a pressure system, but that is where the similarities end.

In this article, we examined the primary differences between these two meteorological events. We also took a closer look at how each phenomenon develops and what its characteristics are.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  clicking on this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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What Is The Difference Between A Hurricane, Typhoon, And Cyclone?

Difference Between A Hurricane, Typhoon And Cyclone heading

Most of us are familiar with the terms "hurricane, typhoon, and cyclone" You can be forgiven for thinking these storm systems are all different weather events, but this cannot be further from the truth.

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all exactly the same type of weather phenomenon, a tropical storm. The only significant difference is the region of the world they originate from.

This answer/statement may sound confusing and incomplete, but it will all soon start to make sense. 

On more than one occasion, you probably got confused and frustrated while watching the news or weather report and observe the seemingly "same occurrence" being called various different names at different times. And with good reason.

In this article, we take a closer look at what exactly the difference between these weather occurrences is. We also examine how they are formed, their characteristics, as well as the impact on their immediate environment.

Towards the end of this post, we also take a closer look at monsoons, a completely different weather event or pattern, but just destructive and also occurring over a vast region.

The Actual Difference Between A Hurricane, Typhoon, And Cyclone

As already briefly mentioned in the introduction, a hurricane, typhoon, and cyclone are all exactly the same type of weather occurrence.

They all start in the warm water of the Tropics, where vast amounts of humidity provide the fuel for what will eventually become one of these devastating storm systems. They form in the same way and also have exactly the same characteristics.

Then why are these large storm systems given different names?

A Hurricane, Typhoon & Cyclone Are Defined By Their Location

All three weather events don't get their different names a result of any specific characteristic or behavior, but as a result of WHERE on the planet they occur. It is all about their location:

Hurricane Systems In The Northern Hemisphere

Hurricane Systems Forming Over The Northern Hemisphere

  • The term "hurricane" is used when the weather system originates over the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, or the Northeast Pacific Ocean.
  • The term "typhoon" is used when the weather system originates over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.
  • The term "cyclone" is used when the weather system originates over the South Pacific Ocean or the Indian Ocean.

Meteorologists officially use the umbrella term, "Tropical Cyclone" to cover all three systems regardless of their location. 

Tropical Cyclone

The general term, tropical cyclone, is used by meteorologists and climatologists to describe the organized, rotating cloud systems and thunderstorms which form over the world's tropical oceans. They are easily identifiable by the familiar rotating cloud pattern spiraling out from the center, as seen on satellite images.

They are also characterized by high wind speeds and extreme low-pressures systems close to the center of the storm, with its typical low-level circulation allowing it to draw and maintain its energy from the warm ocean water.

It is interesting to note that the direction of rotation of a tropical storm differs between the southern and Northern Hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere, it rotates in a counterclockwise direction, while it rotates in a clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere. This is all a direct result of the Coriolis Effect.

With all the technicalities out of the way, we can start looking in more detail at a hurricane, how it forms, and its characteristics.

Since most of us are familiar with the term "hurricane," I am going to simplify everything. For the remainder of the article, the term "hurricane" will be used as the umbrella term for all three variations (hurricane, typhoon, and cyclone). Describing its formation and characteristics will apply to the other two name variations.

The Formation Of A Hurricane (Typhoon/Cyclone)

There are several stages in the development of a hurricane, each having its own set of classifications (based on strength). The best way to understand this process is to start with the weakest system, then work our way up as its strength increases.  

It All Starts With A Tropical Depression

The first system that starts forming over the warm waters of the oceans around the Tropics is a tropical depression.

A Tropical Depression forms when the warm air over the ocean rises, leaving less air near the surface (forming a low-pressure system). The air that takes its place warms up and starts rising too. The process continues, and the surrounding cooler air swirls in to take its place. The warm moist air cools down as it rises, and clouds start forming as a result. This whole cloud system slowly rotates and grows as the warm air rising from the ocean's surface continues to feed it. As long as the wind speeds do not exceed 38 miles per hour, the system remains a tropical depression.

Turning Into A Tropical Storm

As soon the winds reach and sustain speeds of 39 miles per hour and above, the system is classified as a tropical storm. Within a tropical storm, wind speeds can vary from 39 - 74 mph.

We already discussed the tropical storm in detail earlier in the article, so I don't need to add too much additional information in this section.

Trees During Tropical Storm

Clearly, a tropical storm is much stronger than a topical depression as a result of the higher wind speeds. Even though it's not yet seen as a hurricane, its destructive nature should not be underestimated. It can still lead to substantial damage and flooding, especially in coastal and surrounding areas.

(Also, take note that although these storms rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in Southern Hemisphere, they still remain exactly the same in every other aspect.)

A Hurricane Is Formed

As the wind speeds increase, so does the strength of the storm. Once the wind speed reach and exceed 75 mph for a sustained period of time, is it classified as a hurricane.

The familiar shape of this weather system becomes much more defined, with a dense bank of rotating clouds, as well as the eye of the storm it surrounds, clearly visible. The signature bands of clouds, spiraling out from the storm center, can spread as far as 100 miles or more in major hurricanes.

The eye of the hurricane sits in the middle of the storm system and is normally very clear and calm, with no cloud cover or any significant air movement. It is mostly circular in shape but can vary and often form a more oval shape. The average size of the eye is about 15 miles (24 km), but in large hurricanes, it can be as big as 40 miles (64 km) or more.

Eye Of The Hurricane

Eye Of The Hurricane

Since it sits right in the middle of the hurricane, the eye is surrounded by huge banks of clouds receding with height (in what is sometimes referred to as the "stadium effect"). Also called the eyewall, it is this bank of clouds at the edge of the eye that also contains the highest and most destructive wind speeds.

(This is one of the hidden dangers of a hurricane. People unfamiliar with hurricanes do not realize that the threat is not over once the first wave of the storm has passed, and the eye moves in over a region.

This creates the false impression that the danger is over, causing many people to leave the safety of their shelters, only to be caught off-guard and hit by the destructive winds & rain in the approaching opposite wall of the storm.)

Levels Of Strength

It goes without saying that the impact of these storm systems can be devastating, especially as it approaches and crosses the coastline and surrounding areas. 

As a hurricane moves inland, it looses power quickly, as it is no longer receiving energy from the warm ocean water. It can still cause severe damage though, depending on the size and strength of the storm as it made landfall.

The strength of the hurricane can be measured on a scale from 1 to 5. As you will see from the diagram below, the strength and resulting damage is mainly a direct result of the associated wind speeds.

Hurricane Strength Scale

Hurricane Category Based On Strength With Associated Wind Speed And Storm Surge

The strength of a hurricane is not the only factor that determines its impact and the amount of damage it will cause.

For example, two hurricanes can interact and combine to form a much stronger storm system. This phenomenon is called the Fujiwhara Effect.  

Damage Caused By Hurricanes

Unfortunately, whenever a hurricane-strength storm makes landfall (or even while still over the ocean), a certain level of destruction is almost guaranteed.

The amount of damage caused is not just determined by the size of the hurricane, but also to a large degree by the topography of the region it hits, and also the population density of the affected area.

If the hurricane crosses into a coastal region that is very mountainous or has plenty of hills and valleys, the storm system gets disrupted and broken up fairly quickly, limiting the amount of damage it is able to inflict.

When the area the storm is entering is a very flat coastal region, the hurricane is able to travel much further inland without losing too much strength, causing the extend of damage to stretch further inland as well.

The amount of damage a hurricane can cause also depends on which component of the storm system is causing the damage. The main components of a hurricane, causing the most amount of damage are:

  1. Rainfall, 
  2. Wind Speed 
  3. Storm Surge 

By looking at each one of these components individually, one can get a better idea of the type and extent of damage that each one can cause.

1) Rainfall

Devastation Caused By Flooding

Devastation Caused By Flooding

Probably one of the most devastating results of the heavy rainfall associated with a strong hurricane is flooding. Extensive flooding can cause loss of life, not only as a result of drowning but also due to structural damage to buildings and other structures that can collapse and cause fatalities.

The damage to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure may run into hundreds of millions worth of damage, and can also make an area inhabitable for months or even years in a worst-case scenario.

In mountainous areas with little vegetation as covering, mudslides and rockfalls are common occurrences during heavy rainfall. It can also destabilize hillsides near roads and villages, which can lead to large scale evacuations and roads becoming unusable.

2) Wind Speed

Depending on the strength of the wind, objects like trees and buildings can be severely damaged, or in some cases, completely flattened.

Consistent strong gusts of winds can also worsen the effect of flooding and storm surge. It can drive flood waters deeper inland, extending the damage caused by flooding. The strength and height of the storm surge will also be impacted by the wind speed, which will have a direct impact along the shoreline directly hit by a hurricane. This brings me to the last component of a hurricane that can be the most destructive part of a hurricane.

3) Storm Surge

We all heard about this term when hurricanes or related storms are discussed or mentioned during weather forecasts. So let's first clarify what exactly a storm surge is.

Storm surge can be seen as the abnormal rise in the sea level as a result of a hurricane, where both the low-pressure system in the center of the storm, as well as the high wind speeds, cause an abnormal rise in water levels. The storm surge dramatically builds up in height as the ocean floor becomes more shallow near the shoreline as the hurricane approaches coastal regions.

The height of a storm surge is determined by

  • the strength of the wind speeds, 
  • as well as the amount of drop in air pressure.

The low-pressure system has a very significant impact on the height of the storm surge while still over the ocean. The lower the air pressure, the higher the sea level will rise. It is estimated that for every drop in one hPa (1 millibar) of pressure, the sea levels rise by approximately 0.4 inches (10 mm).

(If you take into consideration that the normal air pressure at sea level is about 1013 millibar and that air pressure in a hurricane was measured as low as 882 millibars in 2005, the huge impact air pressure in hurricanes have on ocean levels speak for itself. ) 

The high winds blowing in the direction of the shore contributes to the rise in sea levels as it causes a build-up of water in the direction the wind is blowing. It also strengthens and drives the resulting high waves hitting the coast, forcing the water deeper inland.

The Power Of A Storm Surge

The results of storm surge can be devastating, especially during very strong hurricanes when waves of 15 - 20 feet or more can be generated.

(Hurricane Katrina generated a storm surge of 28 feet in Louisiana in The United States in 2005. You only need to Google the term "Hurricane Katrina" to see images of exactly how devastating a storm surge can be...)

(If you want to see how the size of hurricane and relating wind speeds influence the size of the storm surge, simply have a look at the Hurricane Strength Diagram earlier in the article.)

What can make the effect of storm surge even worse is when storm tide forms.

A storm tide occurs when a coastal region is already experiencing the region's natural High Tide when the storm surge breaches the shoreline. The normal high tide level may already be 3 feet above the mean sea level. When a storm surge of 12 feet reaches the shore, it creates a storm tide that is a combined 15 feet high. (The high tide sea level and height of the storm surge are combined to form the massive influx of water.)

Clearly, the areas most affected by a storm surge are towns and cities situated on the coast. The closer to the shoreline, the more severe the damage will be. It is not uncommon for buildings and other structures close to the shore to be completely destroyed by tidal waves.

This "wall of water" and the resulting flooding can spread far inland, enveloping entire cities & surrounding areas, depending on the size of the hurricane. While this is happening, violent waves, driven by the high wind speeds, will continue to batter the coast and cause damage to anything on the coast that wasn't destroyed by the initial hit of tidal waves.

The sheer power and scale of hurricanes can not be overemphasized enough or taken lightly in any way. There is a reason why national weather services and weather forecasts pay so much attention to approaching hurricanes. 

By now, you should have a very clear idea what hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons are, as well as their differences (or similarities). We also examined how they are formed, their characteristics and the impact they have on the environment.


Now you must forget everything you just read, for the moment anyway. The reason is simple. The weather occurrence I am about to discuss is an entirely different animal than all the terms discussed in the above section, which in more ways than none, actually refer to precisely the same meteorological phenomenon.

The term "monsoon" sometimes gets confused with a hurricane, cyclone, and typhoon since they are all devastating weather events that occur over large regions. 

Where the other terms refer to the same phenomenon, though "monsoon" refers to a completely different type of weather system...

Monsoons

First of all, a monsoon is not a random event that occurs sporadically at different locations. It is a seasonal event that only occurs during the rainy season in specific regions on the planet (predominantly the region stretching from India to Southeast Asia).

Secondly, the way in which a monsoon is formed, as well as its characteristics, differs entirely from the typical hurricane formation and its familiar "rotating & spiraling" shape.

So what exactly is a monsoon, and how and how does it develop?

Monsoon Descends Over Region In India

Monsoon Storm Descends Over A Region In India

A monsoon is the weather pattern that forms over Southeast Asia, specifically India, during the warm summer months. It is caused by southerly winds moving in from the high-pressure system over the warm Indian and Western Pacific Oceans.

These winds pick up a substantial amount of moisture from the warm ocean water as it moves north towards the low-pressure system present over the continent, bringing with it large torrential rains.

(Just in case you came across the term or may have been wondering, there is such a thing as a winter monsoon. This type of monsoon is characterized by the air flowing in the opposite direction as the airflow during warm summer months. 

It is also associated with the resulting dry weather condition that prevails over land during the winter. As a result, whenever a general reference to a monsoon is made, it normally refers to the familiar large-scale system occurring during the summer over Southeast Asia.) 

Please note that a similar weather system occurs over the Southwestern United States (as well as West Africa) during late summer in the region, which is technically also a monsoon. These systems are much weaker and smaller than the ones occurring in Southeast Asia. 

Although they are all technically monsoons, the general reference to "monsoons" and "monsoon season" in global terms are generally associated with the vast weather system in India and Southeast Asia.

Early Stages And Development Of A Monsoon

It is not wrong to think of a monsoon as a gigantic sea breeze. Instead of occurring over the course of a day, however, it lasts for months. It also affects a vastly greater region than just a coastline, as a single monsoon can cover large parts of India or Southeast Asia at a time. 

(The principle mechanisms driving a sea breeze, applies to a monsoon as well, though.)

During the summer, both the land and ocean heats up, but (due to each one's different capacity to absorb and retain heat), the land warms up much quicker than the ocean waters.

As the land heats up more quickly, it also warms the air at the surface. The warmer air starts to rise, which leaves less air at the surface, creating a low-pressure system over land.

The water over the ocean takes much longer to warm up, allowing the air above it to maintain a higher pressure. Since air always flows from a high-pressure to a low-pressure system, the wind blows from the ocean to the land.

The result is very similar to a sea breeze. This "sea breeze" effect does not occur over the course of a day, though, but build up and last for months. It can last for the full duration of the summer season (or however long the region is subjected to warm weather).

Monsoon Air Circulation

Circular Airflow Leading To The Forming A Monsoon

The air flowing in from the ocean is filled with moisture. As the air reaches land, it starts to rise, and as it gains altitude, it cools down. The cooler air can no longer hold the moisture, and condensation takes place. In turn, it leads to large-scale precipitation over the region. 

The colder air moves back over the ocean. This completes the cycle of airflow that creates the structure of a monsoon. (During the winter months, this whole cycle takes place in reverse, leading to the dry weather during the region experience during winter.)

Monsoon rains have been part of Southeast Asia and India for centuries and are generally seen as a normal seasonal weather cycle, occurring every summer season. (It is not classified as an abnormal weather activity.)

The Dangers Of A Monsoon

For the most part, the agricultural sectors of the regions affected by monsoons have adapted to this weather pattern over time. In fact, the whole agricultural economy now relies on monsoon seasons and plan their activities around the rainfall during this period.

That does not mean a monsoon does not come without its dangers, though. Some of these dangers are a direct consequence of monsoon, but some are more hidden indirect dangers. It can be roughly be divided into three categories.

1) Heavy Rains And Flash Flooding

The cloud systems that build up over land when a monsoon forms usually carry a vast amount of moisture. It usually results in heavy sustained rains.

Often though, a very large downpour results in a sudden buildup of water, which causes flash flooding throughout the region. Many lives are lost due to drowning or the collapse of structures due to weakening by floodwaters.

What makes the flash floods so dangerous is that they don't just occur rapidly and without warning, but the buildup of water levels also happens very quickly. It leaves people very little time to respond, and the quick-rising water often traps victims.

2) Diseases

A more indirect, but far more devastating result of the monsoon season is the development and spread of waterborne diseases.

Standing water, caused by the persistent rain and flooding, is a breeding ground for all kinds of waterborne diseases and cause thousands of fatalities each year.

Malaria, Cholera, Typhoid, Dengue, and Viral Fever are just a few of the potentially deadly diseases that are associated with the rainy summer season in Southeast Asia.

They are all directly or indirectly associated with the monsoon season and can be transmitted in a variety of ways:

  • Bathing in contaminated water
  • Contact with infected bodily secretions
  • Eating contaminated food
  • Insect bites, especially mosquitoes
  • Drinking contaminated water

Precautions, advances in medical technology, and access to treatment have lessened the effect of these diseases in recent years. However, it remains the biggest cause of death as a result of monsoons in the subcontinent.

3) Late Arrival Or Weak Monsoons

Ironically, as destructive as the monsoon rains can be, the lack or delay in the arrival of these rains can be just as devastating. For more than a century, farmers and the agriculturist industry as a whole, not only adapted but plan and relies on the coming monsoon rains for the irrigation of crops and, to a smaller degree, grazing for livestock.

A monsoon season that arrives a few weeks late can have a severe effect on the growth and success of Kharif (rice, Jowar, maize, etc. planted at the beginning of the rainy season) crops. A whole season with very low monsoon rainfalls can lead to complete crop failure.

Take into consideration the fact that 70% of India's population relies on agriculture, and 58% of the country's employment comes from the agricultural sector. It highlights the importance of a monsoon season with enough rainfall to the whole subcontinent.

Water storage and better forms of irrigation has made the problem less over the short term but is still not enough to shield the industry from a dry monsoon season.

Conclusion

This article highlighted and clearly illustrated the difference between a hurricane, typhoon, and cyclone. It showed how these different weather occurrences are, in fact, all one and the same meteorological phenomenon.

We also focused on the formation, growth, and characteristics of a hurricane to illustrate how these destructive storm systems develop.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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22 Interesting & Important Facts About The Weather You Should Know

22 Interesting And Important Facts About The Weather

As much as you already know about the weather and climate, there are still a few interesting and important facts about the weather that you should be aware of. 

After years or even decades of closely following weather reports and discussing it with friends & family, you may already have a good grasp of how it's general behavior and the atmospheric conditions that characterize it. 

Unfortunately, there are quite a few myths and misconceptions that stubbornly keep doing the rounds in modern culture, as well as some essential weather facts that don't get emphasized enough. We address a few of these important facts in the following list.

22 Interesting & Important Facts About The Weather

The following list describes some interesting as well as crucial facts about the weather that you may already know, while others might be misconceptions or myths that are so widely accepted that you will be surprised to learn the truth.

After listing all 22 facts, we will take a close look at each individual one to get a better understanding of what it means as well as its possible implications:

  1. 1
    Weather Is Unpredictable, Always
  2. 2
    Climate Is What You Expect, Weather Is What You Get
  3. 3
    Wind Blows From Areas Of High To Low Pressure
  4. 4
    Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, Is The Windiest Place In The world
  5. 5
    Lightning Can Strike Twice
  6. 6
    The Entire Length Of The Mississippi River Froze Over In 1899
  7. 7
    Hurricanes And Typhoons Are The Same Types Of Storm
  8. 8
    Mawsynram, India has the highest rainfall on the planet.
  9. 9
    The Average Speed Of A Raindrop Is 9 Meters (29.6 feet) Per Second
  10. 10
    One Billion Tons of Rain Falls On The Planet Every Minute
  11. 11
    Lightning Strikes The Earth's Surface 100 Times Per Second
  12. 12
    Snowflakes Can Take Up To An Hour To Reach The Earth
  13. 13
    Ozone Is Hazardous For Your Health
  14. 14
    Tornadoes And Waterspouts Are The Same Weather Phenomena
  15. 15
    Antarctica Is Completely Covered By A Glacier
  16. 16
    Why Hurricanes Have Female Names
  17. 17
    The Air Is 78 Percent Nitrogen
  18. 18
    Antarctica Is The Largest Desert In The World
  19. 19
    A Raindrop Is Not Tear-Shaped
  20. 20
    The highest temperature ever recorded was in Death Valley, USA
  21. 21
    A Warm Front Can Cause Rain
  22. 22
    Never Drive Through Flood Water

1) Weather Is Unpredictable, Always

the difference between weather and climate

This statement is no criticism of any weather service or meteorologists. Weather forecasts have become remarkably accurate over the last few decades with weather sensors spread out over the Earth's surface, the oceans, atmosphere, and in space.

A wealth of historical weather and climate data, combined with advanced forecasting models, make modern-day weather predictions very reliable.

But as we all know, sometimes the weather turns out completely the opposite than was predicted. It usually is no fault of any meteorological service, but simply due to the fact that there are just too many atmospheric variables that can change in a short space of time.

For example, on the coast, the ocean or land temperatures can rise or drop quicker or slower than expected. Ocean currents can unexpectedly change and dramatically influence the weather. Jet streams in the upper atmosphere can slightly shift and have a large impact.

These are just a few examples of the large number of variables in the atmosphere that can come into play and influence the weather unexpectedly and quickly. 

2) Climate Is What You Expect, Weather Is What You Get

This statement is basically the very definition of the primary difference between the weather and climate. (It is very easy to confuse the two, which often lead to many misunderstandings and debate.)

Climate is the average weather conditions that are expected during a specific part of the year or season, calculated over a period of at least 30 years. Weather, on the other hand, is the specific atmospheric conditions at a particular location at any given time.

For example, the climate may dictate that a day in the middle of summer will be warm and sunny. On one particular summer's day, though, the weather can be cloudy & rainy, with temperatures dropping below 15° Celsius (59° Fahrenheit).

Read more about the difference between weather and climate in this article.

3) Wind Blows From Areas Of High To Low Pressure

Wind Blows From Areas Of High To Low Pressure

Low and high-pressure systems are what creates the majority of winds, and it always flows from an area of high to low pressure.

The best way to describe it is to use the analogy of a party balloon. As you blow it up, air fills the balloon, and the pressure inside also starts to build. When it is fully inflated, the air pressure inside the balloon is much higher than that on the outside.

As soon as you open a hole in the balloon, the air immediately rushes out to equalize the pressure inside and outside. Wind acts exactly the same way as it flows from a high-pressure to low-pressure region.

4) Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, Is The Windiest Place In The world

The windiest place in the world is also one of the coldest. With winds reaching an average annual wind speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), Commonwealth Bay in Antarctica holds the record for windiest location on the planet.

Wind gusts also regularly exceed 241 km/h (150 mph) in this region, and the windiest hour here was recorded on 6 July 1930 at Cape Denison with a speed of 153 km/h (95 mph).

You can read more about the windiest places on the planet in this article.

5) Lightning Can Strike Twice

Lightning Can Strike Twice

One of the most common and dangerous myths is that lightning does not strike the same area twice in one thunderstorm. This misconception most probably arose out of reassuring someone that a negative or dramatic event in their life will not occur again.

Whatever the reason, the fact remains that lightning can and most probably will strike the same location more than once. If it does not happen during the same thunderstorm, it can happen during an upcoming one.

There is just no scientific evidence whatsoever to support this myth. You can read more about lightning, how it forms, and its characteristics in this article

6) The Entire Length Of The Mississippi River Froze Over In 1899

The southern state of Louisiana in the United States is not exactly known for its freezing cold winters or icy conditions. However, this all changed in February 1899.

New Orleans experienced 3-4 inches of snow during this period. But that was just the beginning. The entire length of the Mississippi River froze over all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and even extended partially into the Gulf.

This may have been a freak occurrence or once-off, but don't be too surprised if something similar happens in the near feature as Climate Change is wreaking havoc across the world. 

7) Hurricanes And Typhoons Are The Same Types Of Storm

hurricanes and typhoons

You may be getting confused when meteorologists talk about hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones during forecasts, but each time you see the same type of phenomenon on the satellite image.

Well, your eyes are not deceiving you since hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones, are all tropical storms that originate in the warm waters of the Subtropics. They form in the same way and have exactly the same characteristics.

The only real difference between these weather phenomena is the location on the planet where they occur:

  1. 1
    The term "hurricane" is used when the storm occurs in the Central & Eastern North Pacific, as well as the North Atlantic.
  2. 2
    The term "typhoon" is used when it occurs in the Northwest Pacific.
  3. 3
    The term "tropical cyclone" is used when the storm occurs in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

8) Mawsynram, India has the highest rainfall on the planet.

Although many regions around the world occasionally experience periods of heavy rains or sometimes even microbursts, there are a few locations whose average annual rainfall is so high that it almost defies belief.

Mawsynram, a small village in the district of Meghalaya, India, is the rainiest place in the world with an average annual rainfall of 11 871 mm (467 inches).

You can find the list of the 12 rainiest cities/towns in the world in this article.

9) The Average Speed Of A Raindrop Is 9 Meters (29.6 feet) Per Second

Average Speed Of A Raindrop

Different types of precipitation fall at different speeds towards the ground, depending on size, density, and weight. For example, a snowflake falls slower than a raindrop, which in turn falls slower than larger hailstones.

Raindrops, the most common type of precipitation, falls at an average speed of 9 meters (29.6 feet) per second or approximately 20 mph.

10) One Billion Tons of Rain Falls On The Planet Every Minute

In the two previous points, we discussed various aspects of rainfall, including the naming of the rainiest place in the world. Therefore it should come as no surprise that a lot of rain falls on the planet's surface every day.

What might be surprising, though, is precisely how much rain actually falls. Every minute, one billion tons of rain reaches the planet's surface.

11) Lightning Strikes The Earth's Surface 100 Times Per Second

Lightning Strikes The Earth's Surface 100 Times Per Second

At an earlier point, we debunked the myth that lightning cannot strike the same place twice during a storm. Add to the fact that it can heat the air to 27 700° Celsius (50 000° Fahrenheit) and generate up to 1 billion volts of electricity, and you understand the danger.

But what can really be startling is the fact that the Earth's surface gets struck by a lightning bolt 100 times every second.

12) Snowflakes Can Take Up To An Hour To Reach The Earth

From all the different types of precipitation, snowflakes take the longest to reach the Earth's surface. It is not uncommon to observe it almost floating in the air or being blown around by a gentle breeze.

In Fact, depending on atmospheric conditions, it can snowflakes up to an hour to reach the planet's surface.

13) Ozone Is Hazardous For Your Health

Ozone Is Hazardous For Your Health

Even readers who know just a small amount about the weather and recent climate history most probably heard about the hole in the ozone layer and how vital this gas is for our survival on this planet.

Situated about 15-30 km (9-18 miles) above the planet, ozone is responsible for absorbing the vast majority of dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays that enter Earth's atmosphere. Without if, life on Earth will not be possible.

The gas itself is toxic and can be deadly if any human comes in direct contact with it. If inhaled, ozone can lead to severe respiratory conditions and damage the lungs.

14) Tornadoes And Waterspouts Are The Same Weather Phenomena

Although they are given different names, tornadoes and waterspouts are essentially the same weather phenomena. Both occur as a result of a column of fast rotating air that is strong enough to lift objects on the surface into the air.

In the case of a tornado, not only soil and vegetation but also solid objects like building debris, and other manmade objects are picked up and tossed around, which makes them so dangerous and visually intimidating.

Waterspouts, on the other hand, are very seldom seen since they mostly occur over water. As they only pick up surface water, the amount of damage they can cause is also much less than that of a tornado over land.

As a result of the different levels of dangers involved, combined with most observers' familiarity with tornadoes, it is easy to assume that the two occurrences are entirely different weather phenomena.


15) Antarctica Is Completely Covered By A Glacier

Antarctica Is Completely Covered By A Glacier

It may be hard to believe that a single glacier entirely covers a continent with a surface area of 14.2 million square kilometers (5.5 million square miles). However, Antarctica is completely covered by a continental glacier.

A continental glacier should not be confused with the more recognizable valley glaciers most readers are familiar with. You can find out what continental glaciers are and how they form in this article.

16) Why Hurricanes Have Female Names

In 1950 the United States National Hurricane Center initiated a system for using the phonetic alphabet to name hurricanes and tropical storms after realizing that human names are easier to remember than latitude-longitude coordinates.

In 1953 the National Weather Service revised the system to naming hurricanes after women to avoid repetitive naming. To avoid possible claims of sexism and discrimination, the system was changed again in 1978 to include both male and female names.

The practice of using female names dates back centuries and is rooted in maritime customs. In ancient times, sailors used to dedicate ships to goddesses, and in recent centuries, vessels were seen as mother figures by ship's captains and mariners.

You can get more in-depth information describing the past and present use of hurricane names in this article.

17) The Air Is 78 Percent Nitrogen

The Air Is 78 Percent Nitrogen

Since all living organisms (except a small aquatic parasite called Henneguya salminicolathat) need oxygen to survive, it is only logical and understandable to think that the air we breathe mostly consists out of oxygen.

Surprisingly, though, only 21 percent of the air in the troposphere* is made up out of oxygen. The vast majority of the air we breathe consists out of nitrogen, which makes up 78 percent of the air in the atmosphere.

*The lowest layer of the atmosphere in which all life exists.

18) Antarctica Is The Largest Desert In The World

With a surface area of 14.2 million square kilometers (5.5 million square miles), Antarctica is the largest desert in the world.

This fact will definitely come as a surprise to most readers since it is hard to imagine a continent entirely covered by ice to be seen as a desert.

However, a desert is defined by the amount of rainfall it receives, which must be less than 250 mm (15.26 inches) per year to be considered a desert. With an annual rainfall of less than 200 mm (7.87 inches), Antarctica is the largest desert in the world. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the desert climate and its characteristics, you can read about it in this article.

19) A Raindrop Is Not Tear-Shaped

The Real Shape Of A Raindrop

The popular tear-shaped form of a raindrop is so widely used that it is no surprise that it is commonly viewed as the real shape of rain as it forms in a cloud after condensation.

In reality, a raindrop is spherical (round) in shape when it first develops as microdroplets cling together after they collide to form larger drops. As it starts to fall to the ground, air resistance forces its bottom to flatten out before it eventually changes shape completely.

The teardrop shape of a water droplet comes from the form it takes as it flows down a surface like a window, a person's face, or a cold glass of liquid. Since most people see waterdrops in this form, they simply assume that this is the natural shape of rain.

Learn more about the shape of a raindrop in this article.

20) The highest temperature ever recorded was in Death Valley, USA

Locations around the world are recording record-high temperatures, especially in recent years, as Global Warming is causing a steady rise in warm weather around the planet.

However, the highest temperature ever recorded occurred in Death Valley, USA, on 10 July 1913 when the mercury rose to 56.7 °Celsius (134.1 °Fahrenheit).

21) A Warm Front Can Cause Rain

A Warm Front Can Cause Rain

A common belief exists that a cold front is associated with cold and wet weather, while a warm front is more commonly associated with warm & dry weather.

One of the main reasons for this association is that a warm front is accompanied by a high-pressure system, which is characterized by warm and dry weather.

Although it doesn't produce the same stormy wet weather that abruptly arrives as a cold front moves in, a warm front does create a more gentle and sustained form of rainfall when enough moisture is present in the air.

The softer but persistent rain is a result of the gentle slope on which the warm air rises on the back of the preceding cold air.

To get a better understanding of how a warm front develops and how it differs from a cold front, you can read more about the differences between the two in this article.

22) Flood Water Are Deceptively Dangerous

Extreme weather phenomena such as hurricanes, monsoons, and microbursts can result in widespread flooding. (Flash flooding is some of the more dangerous types of flooding that can occur.)

Floodwaters, more often than not, appear much calmer and not as deep as they really are. It is one of the main reasons they get underestimated so often, and many people get in trouble or even lose their lives as a result.

A flooded road is especially dangerous and one should never attempt to cross it. Not only can it be much deeper than expected and wash a vehicle away, but it may also hide dangerous obstacles just below the surface.

Flooded streams and rivers are just as dangerous to try and cross. They may appear relatively shallow and slow-moving, but it takes a depth of less than waist-high to wash you or your vehicle away.

In fact, a fast-moving stream only needs to be 152 millimeters (6 inches) in depth to knock a person off his/her feet, and 0.61 meters (2 feet) deep to wash a vehicle away.

Conclusion

In this article, we highlighted a wide variety of facts about the weather. Some are interesting and surprising, while others may be alarming but important to know.

These are just a few of the countless and interesting facts around meteorology. If you are interested in more, the articles below add more fascinating facts, as well as addressing some of the common misconceptions surrounding atmospheric conditions.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  clicking on this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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Rainiest Cities In The World: 12 Places With The Highest Rainfall In The World

Rainiest Cities In The World

Staring out into the relentless rain pouring outside your window, you would think you live in the rainiest place in the world. There are a few cities on the planet, though, which annual rainfall defies belief.

If you don't live in an arid or semi-arid region of the world, the chances are good that you already experienced spells of persistent rain that seems to go on forever. It's hard to believe that some locations on the planet receive more rain in a week than most places do in a year.

Although many places experience a large volume of rainfall over a short period of time (as is the case with a microburst), the best criteria to use to accurately determine the rainiest city/town on Earth is to look at its average annual rainfall.

Mawsynram - Meghalaya, India is the rainiest place in the world with an average annual rainfall of 11 872 mm (467.4 inches).

In this article, we take a look at the 12 wettest locations around the globe. When listing the cities, we include more densely populated areas such as towns in villages to be more inclusive and accurate.

As one can imagine, the title of "Rainiest Place In The World" has been passed around between cities and varies over time. The locations in this article, though, consistently recorded record-high rainfall averages throughout history. 

12 Cities With The Highest Rainfall In The World

The following list looks at the 12 rainiest cities in the world, starting with the wettest location on the planet first and working our way down. We then take a closer look at each individual city/town:

City / Town

Average Annual Rainfall

Cell

Millimeters

Inches

1

Mawsynram, India

11 871

467

2

Cherrapunji, India

11 777

464

3

Tutunendo, Colombia

11 770

463

4

San Antonio de Ureca, Equatorial Guinea

10 450

418

5

Debundscha, Cameroon

10 299

405

6

Quibdó City, Colombia

7 328

289

7

Buenaventura, Colombia

6 276

247

8

Mawlamyine, Myanmar

4 772

188

9

Monrovia, Liberia

4 540

179

10

Hilo, Hawaii

3 219

127

11

Singapore

2 340

92

12

Bergen, Norway

2 250

89

1) Mawsynram, India

Location: Meghalaya, India

Average Annual Rainfall: 11 871 mm (467 inches)

Mawsynram, India

Mawsynram is situated in the Khasi Hills, which forms part of the district of Meghalaya, India. At a latitude/longitude of 25° 18′ N, 91° 35′ E, it is also located close to the Equator, a factor that many rainy cities have in common, as will be illustrated in this article.  

(The intense solar radiation that the ocean waters receive at the Equator results in mass evaporation at the surface. The moist air rises & cools down, leading to condensation taking place, which is the leading cause of the heavy rainfall that characterize Equatorial regions.)

Although it is technically a village and not a city, there is no disputing the fact that this small populated region in India is the rainiest place on the planet, with an average annual rainfall of 11 872 mm (467.4 inches).

2) Cherrapunji, India

Location: Meghalaya, India

Average Annual Rainfall: 11 777 mm (464 inches)

Cherrapunji, India

Situated only 13.6 km (8.4 miles) away from Mawsynram, it is literally a stone-throw away. It should come as no surprise that it is just as rainy and even carried the title of the rainiest place in the world on a few occasions.

In fact, Cherrapunji is the current record holder for the highest rainfall during both a calendar month and year.

Both Mawsynram and Cherrapunji are in the Meghalaya district in India, which unsurprisingly have been consistently the rainiest region in the world in recent history.

3) Tutunendo, Colombia

Location: Quibdó Municipality, Columbia

Average Annual Rainfall: 11 770 mm (463 inches)

Tutunendo, Colombia

Tutunendo lies in the municipality of Quibdó, the rainiest region in Columbia and South America. It is also situated only 13 km (8 miles) from the City of Quibdó (which also disputes & claims the title of the rainiest location on the planet).

With an average annual rainfall of 11 770 mm (463 inches), Tutunendo deserves its title as the rainiest place in South America. 

4) San Antonio de Ureca, Equatorial Guinea

Location: Bioko Sur, Equatorial Guinea

Average Annual Rainfall: 10 450 mm (418 inches)

San Antonio de Ureca, Equatorial Guinea

San Antonio de Ureca is located on the island of Bioko, Equatorial Guinea.

As the name suggests, at a latitude/longitude of 3°16′N 8°31′E, it lies almost on top of the Equator. Like the Meghalayan district in India as well as Tutunendo in Colombia, it is this close proximity to the Equator that largely contributes to heavy rainfall in the region.

San Antonio de Ureca also carries the title as the rainest location on the African continent.

5) Debundscha, Cameroon

Location: Southwestern Region, Cameroon

Average Annual Rainfall: 10 299 mm (405 inches)

Debundscha, Cameroon

Located on the foothills of Mount Cameroon and facing the South Atlantic Ocean, Debundscha is another example of a country with an exceptionally high rainfall that is situated at or close to the Equator.

As its ranking on this list illustrates, it is also widely recognized as one of the five rainóiest destinations in the world, with an average annual rainfall of over 10 000 mm (394 inches).

6) Quibdó City, Colombia

Location: Quibdó Municipality, Columbia

Average Annual Rainfall: 7 328 mm (289 inches)

Quibdó, Colombia

Quibdó City is situated in the municipality of Quibdó, which forms part of the Chocó Department. It lies on the banks of the Atrato River in the western part of Columbia.

As previously stated, there is a great debate and pushback from observers who strongly believe Quibdó should be acknowledged as the rainiest location on the planet.

Since it receives rain 309 days out of the year and is also regarded as one of the cloudiest places in the world (only 1 276 hours of sunlight a year), these observers may have a point.

7) Buenaventura, Colombia

Location: Valle del Cauca, Colombia

Average Annual Rainfall: 6 276 mm (247 inches)

Buenaventura, Colombia

Buenaventura is a coastal city which forms part of the department of Valle del Cauca in Colombia. It is also the primary seaport of the country, handling around 60% of all goods entering and leaving the country via sea.

Its location close to the Equator, combined with the fact that its located at the coast, are the two main driving forces behind its average annual rainfall of 6 276 mm (247 inches).

8) Mawlamyine, Myanmar

Location: Mon State, Myanmar

Average Annual Rainfall: 4 772 mm (188 inches)

Mawlamyine, Myanmar

Mawlamyine is located in Mon State, Myanmar. Like Buenaventura, it is also a coastal city and one of Myanmar's major seaports. It lies on the banks of the Salween (Thanlwin) River.

In this region, the rainy season starts around 6 May and lasts until 14 October, approximately 5.2 months. The majority of its 4 772 mm (188 inches) average annual rainfall occurs during this period.

9) Monrovia, Liberia

Location: Montserrado County, Liberia

Average Annual Rainfall: 4 540 mm (179 inches)

Monrovia, Liberia

Monrovia is a coastal city on the West African coast bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It is also the capital of Liberia and the largest city in the country. It currently holds the title as the wettest capital city in the world.

The flooding that occurs as a result of the heavy rainfall is a significant problem in the city. The water mixes with the city's excess waste, causing blocked sewers and drains, which leads to standing water and generally unsanitary conditions.

10) Hilo, Hawaii

Location: Hawaii, United States Of America

Average Annual Rainfall: 3 219 mm (127 inches)

Hilo, Hawaii

Hilo is located on the east coast of Hawaii in Hilo Bay. It sits at the foot of two volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

Its location close to the Equator is responsible for its tropical rainforest climate, which results in the heavy rains that characterize the region. It is also widely regarded as the rainiest city in the United States Of America.

11) Singapore

Location: Southeast Asia

Average Annual Rainfall: 2 340 mm (92 inches)

Singapore

Singapore is a city-state situated in Southeast Asia. The city lies on the main island, which is located about 137 km (85 miles) north of the Equator, which explains the high rainfall averages recorded in the city each year.

With no clear distinction between the seasons, the rainfall in the city is pretty evenly spread out throughout the year. It also rains for approximately 167 days out of the year.

12) Bergen, Norway

Location: Vestland County, Norway

Average Annual Rainfall: 2 250 mm (89 inches)

Bergen, Norway

Bergen is located on the west coast of Norway in the county of Vestland. It has an oceanic climate with rain evenly spread out throughout the year. 

Although this city is last on this list and its average annual rainfall is dwarfed by the Meghalayan District of India, its 2 250 mm (89 inches) of rain is still pretty impressive.

It is not called "The City Of Rain" without reason. With rain falling 270 days out of the year, it is the rainiest city in Europe.

Conclusion

Determining the rainiest city in the world is no easy feat, as this article clearly illustrated. It varies from time to time, but the cities listed in this post routinely measured record-high rainfall figures throughout history. 

What is evident, though, is that the vast majority of rainy locations around the planet are situated in and around the Equator. This location is responsible for the tropical rainforest climate that results in the record-high rainfall these regions routinely experience.

This article highlighted the 12 cities/towns that consistently record the highest rainfall around the planet. 

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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Windiest Place On Earth… A Look At Locations Around The Globe Experiencing Extreme Winds

Windiest Place On Earth

There may be some debate about the location of the windiest place on Earth. There are a few locations on the planet, though, where extreme & sustained winds simply eclipse just about everything else.

Most of us have experienced strong or even gale force winds at some point during our lives. In most cases, these were exceptions to otherwise much calmer conditions. There are a few places on the planet, though, that continually experience extreme windy conditions.

What Is The Windiest Place On Earth?

Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, is recognized as the windiest location on Earth. While the average annual wind speed is approximately 80 km/h (50 mph), gusts from katabatic winds can reach speeds of 241 km/h (150 mph).

Declaring the "windiest" place on Earth is not as straightforward as one might think. Some criteria may look at maximum wind speeds, others will look at average sustained velocity, and some at how often these atmospheric conditions occur.

The following section describes which criteria are most suited to define a location with extreme wind activity, as well as the actual areas that fall within this category.

Windiest Place On Earth Defined

Over a short period, wind can reach high velocities. These strong gusts are often found in extreme weather phenomena like hurricanes and tornadoes and don't last for very long.

For any location to be acknowledged as being windy, it must experience continuous strong winds over an extended period. It is for this reason that using the annual average wind speed is such a good indicator of sustained heavy wind activity.

By using these criteria, it is much easier to locate and define the region that qualifies as the windiest place in the world:

What Is The Windiest Place On Earth?

Commonwealth Bay

Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, is recognized as the windiest location on Earth. While the average annual wind speed is approximately 80 km/h (50 mph), gusts from katabatic* winds can reach speeds of 241 km/h (150 mph).

*Katabatic (drainage) winds are winds blowing from elevated to lower-lying areas.

To put this into context, a storm is classified as severe once wind speeds exceed 93 km/h (58 mph). Furthermore, The Beaufort wind force scale classifies winds as having gale force strength at speeds of 62 - 74 km/h (39 - 46 mph).

(In other words, the average annual wind speed in Commonwealth Bay exceeds the threshold for a wind to be classified as a gale force.)

The reason that winds reach such high velocities in Commonwealth Bay is a direct result of the slope of the Antarctic Continent as well as the shape of the Bay.

  • Antarctica is entirely covered by a continental glacier, causing it to have a dome shape. This leads to the formation of catabatic winds that blow down the slopes of the continent towards the ocean. The icy temperatures further contribute to the strength of these winds, as gravity forces the cold heavy air at the surface to accelerate towards the coast.
  • The strength of these katabatic winds is further enhanced by the half-moon shape of the Bay, which causes the air to funnel through the center, resulting in a dramatic increase in wind speed

As mentioned, extreme weather is capable of producing much higher wind speeds. For example, in 1961, Typhoon Nancy let to sustained winds of 346 km/h (215 mph), while the highest wind speed in a tornado was recorded at 486 km/h (302 mph) in Oklahoma in 1999.

Commonwealth Bay

These high wind speeds, though, occurred for short periods of time in weather phenomena that do not occur very often. In the case of Commonwealth Bay, though, winds consistently reached gale force strength throughout the year.

Although a few other spots around the world may lay claim to the title of "windiest place on Earth," Commonwealth Bay is the one location that keeps popping up in conversation and is acknowledged by both The Guinness Book Of World Records and National Geographic.

It is worth, though, to take a look at a few other global locations that are notorious for their windy characteristics.

Top 11 Windiest Places On Earth

The following list describes the top 10 cities and locations throughout the world, which are continuously subjected to severe wind conditions.

  1. 1
    Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica
  2. 2
    Wellington, New Zealand
  3. 3
    Barrow Island, Australia
  4. 4
    Mount Everest, Nepal
  5. 5
    Patagonia, Argentina
  6. 6
    Dodge City, Kansas, United States
  7. 7
    Saint John's, Canada
  8. 8
    Mount Washington, New Hampshire, United States
  9. 9
    Baku, Azerbaijan
  10. 10
    Gruissan, France
  11. 11
    Ab-Paran, Afghanistan

1) Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica

As this location has already been extensively covered throughout this article, there is no need for additional information. One can re-iterate the fact that the 50 mph average annual wind speeds and 150 mph gusts cements its status as the windiest place on the planet.

2) Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington - New-Zealand

Wellington is not only the southernmost capital city in the world but also carries the title of the windiest city on the planet. It is situated in the "Roaring Forties" (latitudes of between 40 and 50 degrees south of the Equator), which are infamous for its extreme winds.

The highest recorded wind speed at this location is 248 km/h (154 mph). With winds blowing for 233 days out of the year and average wind speeds of 43 km/h (27 mph), it is clear to see why this city is widely accepted as the windiest.

3) Barrow Island, Australia

Barrow Island is situated on the northwestern coast of Australia. It is widely exposed to wind activity since it doesn't have any natural protection.

What sets it apart, though, is that it currently holds the record for the highest recorded surface wind speed in the world. An unmanned station measured a speed of 408 km/h (253 mph) on 10 April 1996. 

This gust of wind occurred during tropical cyclone Olivia, and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recognizes it as the highest surface speed ever recorded.

4) Mount Everest, Nepal

Including a mountain top in a list of the windiest places on Earth may seem a bit odd, but the extreme winds at the top of Mount Everest have a lot more to do with its altitude than its physical location.

Mount Everest

At a height of 8848 meters (29 028 feet), the peak of Everest is directly exposed to jet streams, strong narrow bands of winds that flow in the upper atmosphere. Although they are not permanent, these winds usually blow for sustained periods at high velocities.

Climbers may experience brief periods of calm weather, but it's usually short-lived. Winds regularly reach speeds of 161 km/h (100 mph), while the highest wind speed ever recorded occurred in February 2004 and measured 282 km/h (175 mph).

Jet streams usually get very little attention as it occurs so high in the atmosphere, but the sheer height of the mountain takes it right into the domain of these dangerous winds.   

5) Patagonia, Argentina

Patagonia is a strip of land situated on the southernmost point of Argentina. Like Wellington (New Zealand), it is also exposed to the "Roaring Forties," which are characterized by the sustained heavy winds.

The city of Punta Arenas experiences so much heavy wind activity throughout the year that authorities erected ropes between buildings for people to hold on to during heavy gusts. With winds reaching speeds of up to 129 km/h (80 mph), it is perfectly understandable.

A contributing factor to the severe wind conditions that characterize the region is the physical geography around Cape Horn that causes the wind to funnel around it and increase in speed.

6) Dodge City, Kansas, United States

Dodge City is one of the windiest towns in the United States. It is situated in the infamous "Tornado Alley" on the American Midwestern Plains, which experiences an exceptionally high number of tornadoes each year.

Dodge City

Winds blowing from the neighboring Rocky Mountains onto the flat plains of the Central United States are the biggest contributing factors to the consistent winds experienced in this part of the country.

The resulting winds have an average speed of approximately 23 km/h (14 mph), which blows almost continuously for the majority of the year.

7) Saint John's, Canada

Saint John's is situated on the east coast of Newfoundland, Canada. It carries the title of the "Windiest City In Canada." And for a good reason.

Winds persist for the largest part of the year and have an average speed of 21.8 km/h (13.6 mph). To top it off, winds reach and exceed speeds of 48 km/h (30 mph) for an average of 47 days out of the year.

8) Mount Washington, New Hampshire, United States

Mount Washington

Before Barrow Island in Australia was crowned the windiest place on Earth, the title belonged to Mount Washington with a recorded speed of 372 km/h (231 mph).

It is still one of the windiest locations on the planet, with an average wind speed of 51 km/h (32 mph). It is also the windiest region in the United States.

9) Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan and the largest city in the country, gets its reputation as a windy city from the cold northerly winds blowing from the Caspian Sea (called the khazri), as well as the warm southern winds flowing overland (called the gilavar).

These winds cause Baku to experience strong winds throughout the year, with the khazri reaching speeds of up to 144 km/h (89 mph) per occasion. It should come as no surprise that the city carries the nickname, "City Of Winds."

10) Gruissan, France

Gruissan - France

Gruissan is a coastal commune situated in the south of France. The traditional fishing village is built around the remains of a 10th century-old castle, and circular in shape.

Winds blow for approximately 300 days out of the year with an average speed of 29 km/h (18mph). The strong northwesterly Tramontane is the dominant wind in the region.  

11) Ab-Paran, Afghanistan

Ab-Paran has a history of heavy storms accompanied by strong winds. What makes it stand out, though, is the wind speed of 328 km/h (204 mph) recorded in 2008. This more than justifies its position as one of the windiest locations on Earth.

Conclusion

As this article clearly illustrated, there are quite a few places around the world that can lay claim to the title, "Windiest Place On Earth."

When one looks at the criteria, though, it becomes evident that Commonwealth Island in Antarctica deserves the crown. 

This article not only highlighted the windiest location on the planet but also looked at regions around the world that experience extreme wind conditions throughout the year.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  clicking on this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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Warm And Cold Fronts: What They Are And How They Differ From Each Other

Warm And Cold Fronts

If you follow weather forecasts regularly, you will be very familiar with warm and cold fronts. But exactly what they are, how they form, and their impact on the surroundings may not be that clear.

The fact that cold fronts are usually closely associated with low-pressure systems, while warm fronts are more commonly associated with high-pressure systems, can create or contribute to some of the confusion that reigns between the two phenomena.

Low-pressure systems are synonymous with cold & wet weather, while high-pressure systems are closely related to warm & dry weather. One can argue that their corresponding frontal systems will have the same characteristics. This is not always the case, though.

By making a direct comparison, but also looking at each meteorological phenomenon separately, it will be easier to gain a better understanding of each frontal system, and how they differ from each other.

The Difference Between A Warm And Cold Front

Both warm and cold front are complex weather systems that require a detailed explanation to properly understand the similarities and differences between the two.

It is important, though, to first gain a clear and concise understanding of the primary difference between the two to establish a proper starting point:

Difference Between A Warm And Cold Front

The-Difference Between A Warm And Cold Front

A warm front occurs on the boundary of a mass of warm air as it advances into an area with cooler air, while a cold front occurs on the boundary of a mass of cold air moving into an area with warmer air.

This definition may sound a bit abstract, but some very clear differences set these two advancing air masses apart.

In a nutshell, a cold front is normally characterized by the abrupt arrival of stormy, rainy weather that makes a significant impact on a region. In contrast, a warm front takes longer to build up and usually produces more gentle precipitation for more sustained periods.

This fairly broad statement does not apply to all frontal occurrences. Still, these types of atmospheric conditions are typical behavior of weather generally associated with the arrival of warm and cold fronts.

The two weather systems can further be distinguished from one another by the warmer air that follows in the wake of a warm front, while a body of colder air closely follows the arrival of a cold front.

The cloud type that accompanies each front is also indicative of the kind of frontal system. Warm fronts are associated with uniform low-lying stratus clouds, while cold fonts are accompanied by storm clouds with a significant vertical buildup like cumulonimbus clouds. 

With a basic description of each frontal system out of the way, individually focussing on each weather phenomenon will provide a clearer understanding of the differences and similarities between the two.

Definition Of A Warm Front

The previous section already highlighted the primary differences between warm and cold fronts. However, by taking a more detailed look at a warm front, one will be able to gain a better understanding of why and how these differences occur.

What Is A Warm Front?

what is a warm front

A warm front is the leading edge of a large body of warm air as it advances into a region of cooler air. Warm fronts are also closely associated with high-pressure systems.

One of the biggest misconceptions about warm fronts is the belief that the weather conditions that characterize the phenomenon is always warm and dry.

Very often, the air following this front is not only warmer but also more humid than the cold air preceding it. This creates the ideal conditions for the formation of gentle and persisting spells of precipitation.

(This type of rain is very welcome in the agricultural sector, where crop growth relies on gentle sustained bouts of rain.)

Warm fronts are also associated with a high-pressure systemAs the frontal system approaches, the air pressure drops. However, once the leading edge of the air mass passes over an area, it starts to level off and continues to rise as the air behind it fills the region.

warm front symbol

A warm front is further symbolized by a curved red line with semi-circles, which makes it instantly identifiable on any weather map. The semi-circles face the direction in which the front is moving.

Since a warm front moves much more slowly than a cold front, it often happens that the cold front catches up with the warm front, resulting in an occluded front.

Understanding how a warm front develops will help to explain why these frontal systems exhibit the characteristics that make them unique:

How A Warm Front Develops

  1. 1
    A warm front starts to develop when a body of advancing warmer air encounters a region with colder air.
  2. 2
    Since warm air is less dense than the cold air, it cannot displace it. Instead, the leading edge of warmer mass gradually rises over the boundary of the prevailing cool air.
  3. 3
    As the air continues to rise on the back of the colder air mass, it starts to cool down until the water vapor can no longer be contained in gaseous form, and condensation takes place.
  4. 4
    The gentle gradient at which the air rises leads to the formation of uniform stratus clouds that are responsible for producing prolonged spells of soft precipitation.
  5. 5
    As the warm front passes, the atmospheric conditions are characterized by warmer temperatures and a rise in air pressure.

Definition Of A Cold Front

As is the case with a warm front, one will get a much better understanding of how a cold front works by looking at it in more detail. Before getting to the details, one first needs a clear and concise definition of what a cold front is.

What Is A Cold Front?

what is a cold front

A cold front is the leading edge of a large body of cold air as it advances into a region of warmer air. Warm fronts are also closely associated with low-pressure systems.

Cold fronts are generally associated with heavy precipitation and stormy atmospheric conditions. Extreme weather conditions such as hail and lightning often accompany the arrival of a cold front.

The air behind a cold front is much denser than the region of warmer air it is moving into. As a result, it quickly lifts the light warm air into the atmosphere, causing it to cool down and condense rapidly.

The rapid lifting and condensation of moist warm air create the ideal conditions for the occurrence of heavy downpours and the formation of thunderstorms.

(These severe weather conditions are characteristic of the arrival of a cold front.)  

Cold fronts are also associated with a low-pressure system. As the frontal system approaches, the air pressure starts to drop. The pressure reaches its lowest point as the front passes and then starts to climb in its wake.

cold front symbol

A cold front is further symbolized by a curved blue line with triangles, which makes it instantly identifiable on any weather map. The triangles face the direction in which the front is moving.

Cold fronts are also characterized by the speed at which they move, sometimes up to twice the speed of a warm front. This is part reason why this type of frontal system often catches up and "collide" with a warm front, which can result in the formation of an occluded front.

Warm and cold fronts have some clear similarities, but also a number of differences that set them apart. By laying out the steps in the development of a cold front, these difference will become even more apparent:

How A Cold Front Develops

  1. 1
    A cold front starts to develop when a body of advancing cold air encounters a region with warmer air.
  2. 2
    As the frontal system approach, the air pressure continues to drop. It reaches its lowest point as the front passes, and starts to climb again in its wake.
  3. 3
    Cold air in the frontal system is much denser than the preceding warm air. As a result, the leading edge of the cold front easily pushes underneath the prevailing warmer air, lifting it into the atmosphere.
  4. 4
    The speed and abruptness with which the warm air is forced to ascend, allow for the rapid condensation of water vapor and the formation of storm clouds.
  5. 5
    This rapid development creates ideal conditions for the creation of heavy downpours and thunderstorms. It is in these storm systems that severe weather conditions such as hail, lightning, and thunder can occur.
  6. 6
    Air temperatures also start to drop substantially as the cold front approaches, reaching its lowest point as the front passes. It remains cool as the body of cold air moves in behind the leading edge of the frontal system.

The following section draws a direct comparison between a warm and cold front to highlight the specific differences in their development and characteristics.

Warm Front Vs Cold Front

Warm Front

Cold Front

A mass of warm air moves into an area of cooler air.

A mass of cold air moves into an area of warmer air.

The warm air cannot displace the denser cold air and gently rises over its boundary.

The cold air is denser than the preceding mass of warm air and displaces it at the surface, forcing it into the atmosphere.

Warm fronts are usually associated with high-pressure systems. 

Warm fronts are usually associated with high-pressure systems. 

Accompanied by a rise in temperature.

Accompanied by a drop in temperature.

A warm front moves more slowly than a cold front.

A cold front moves faster than a warm front.

Associated with a slow and gradual change in weather conditions.

Associated with an abrupt and dramatic change in weather conditions.

Characterized by storm clouds with significant vertical buildup like cumulonimbus clouds.

Characterized by more uniform low-lying stratus clouds.

Conclusion

Warm and cold front are two of the most well-known frontal systems used in weather forecasts and viewed by millions worldwide. Other types of fronts like occluded fronts and stationary fronts also play a significant role in meteorology but get a lot less attention.

As this article clearly illustrated, both warm and cold fronts have quite a few similarities, but also so major differences in both their development and characteristics.

This post highlighted these similarities, but paid specific attention to their differences, and what role they play in creating different weather conditions. 

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Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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