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.

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. 

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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101 Weather And Home Weather Station Facts & Tips You Need To Know

101 Weather Facts

Very often, we are looking for specific answers to specific questions, especially when it comes to the weather and weather-related topics like home weather stations. Just as often, though, we are not looking for anything specific but would simply like to browse through some random information about a general topic and, in the process, maybe stumble across something very exciting.   

In this article, we are going to just that. We compiled a list of 101 random tips and useful information, all related to the weather, that may just spark your interest. 

To make the information more readable and organized, we categorized it into four sections to help you find what you might be looking for more quickly:

  • General Weather Facts
  • Important Weather Tips
  • Home Weather Station Tips And Helpful Information
  • Climate Facts

Below each of the 101 topics listed, a brief description will be given to explain each subject as briefly and precisely as possible. Where possible, we will provide a link to an article describing the topic in much more detail.

So have fun and read through this article any way you wish. You can literally start at any point and will be able to find some standalone piece of information you may find very interesting and helpful. Enjoy!

List Of Weather And Weather Station Facts

The following list name and summarize the 101 facts in each category before we look at each one more closely:

General Weather Facts

  1. 1
    The Weather Is And Always Will Be Unpredictable
  2. 2
    Rainfall - Definition
  3. 3
    The Difference Between Weather And Climate
  4. 4
    Heatwave - Definition
  5. 5
    Wind Chill - Definition
  6. 6
    Dry Spell (As Opposed To A Drought)
  7. 7
    Thunderstorm - Definition
  8. 8
    Jet Streams - Definition
  9. 9
    Cold Front - Definition
  10. 10
    Warm Front - Definition
  11. 11
    Low-Pressure System - Definition
  12. 12
    High-Pressure System - Definition
  13. 13
    A Cold Front Does Not Always Lead To Rainy Weather, While A Warm Front Does Not Always Lead To Dry Weather Conditions
  14. 14
    Hurricanes, Typhoons And Tropical Cyclones - All Essentially One-And-The-Same Weather System
  15. 15
    The Earth Is Struck By Lightning A 100 Times Every Second
  16. 16
    The Top Speed At Which Raindrops Can Fall is 18 MPH
  17. 17
    Coldest And Hottest Weather Recorded
  18. 18
    Fog Does Not Contain As Much Moisture As We May Think
  19. 19
    The Country Most Affected By Tornadoes Are The USA
  20. 20
    Dew Point, Relative Humidity And Comfort Level
  21. 21
    The Windiest Place On Earth
  22. 22
    Hail, And How It Is Formed
  23. 23
    Vertical Structure Of Earth's Atmosphere
  24. 24
    Barometric Pressure - Definition & Measurement
  25. 25
    Wind - Definition & Development
  26. 26
    Trade Winds - Definition & Development
  27. 27
    What Causes A Ring/Halo Around The Moon
  28. 28
    What Is Virga And How Does It Work?
  29. 29
    What Causes The Multi-Colored Ring Around The Sun
  30. 30
    Contrails: What They Are And How They Are Formed
  31. 31
    Supercells: Powerful And Destructive
  32. 32
    The Substantial Weight Of Rain
  33. 33
    The Highest Clouds In Our Atmosphere
  34. 34
    The Smell Of A Rain
  35. 35
    The Effect Of Lightning On Plant Life
  36. 36
    The Unique Display Of Nacreous Clouds
  37. 37
    The Shape Of a Raindrop
  38. 38
    Thunderstorms Can Be The Result Of Human Activity
  39. 39
    Wind And Sun As Powerful Sources Of Renewable Energy
  40. 40
    Raindrops Are Not Always Made Of Water
  41. 41
    Weather Patterns On Neighboring Planets
  42. 42
    The Definition Of A Monsoon And How It Is Formed
  43. 43
    The Cause Of A Ring/Halo Around The Sun
  44. 44
    What Are Weather Balloons And What Do They Do?
  45. 45
    The Effect Of Climate Change On Animal Life
  46. 46
    Most Severe Weather Extremes The Human Body Can Survive
  47. 47
    Why We Feel More Uncomfortable In Humid Weather
  48. 48
    Can Extremely Hot Weather Really Melt Roads?
  49. 49
    What Exactly Is The Ozone Layer And How Does It Protect Us
  50. 50
    Using Waves & Lightning As Renewable Energy Source
  51. 51
    Cloud Seeding And Other Attempts To Make It Rain
  52. 52
    The Effect Of Weather On Your Mood
  53. 53
    Man-Made Attempts To Affect The Weather
  54. 54
    Tornadoes On Mars?
  55. 55
    Why The Sky Is Blue (Seriously...)
  56. 56
    It Is Literally Raining Fish And Frogs
  57. 57
    Meteotsunami (Or Meteorological Tsunami)
  58. 58
    Frost Flowers in the Arctic
  59. 59
    "Fog Tsunamis" - Nature's Sense Of Humour
  60. 60
    Asperitas Clouds - More Bark Than Bite
  61. 61
    Hailstones CAN Be Fatal And Kill You
  62. 62
    The Hidden Dangers Of Black Ice
  63. 63
    Can Thunderstorms Damage Airplanes?
  64. 64
    Can Hurricane Sized Waves Sink A Large Ship?
  65. 65
    Impact Of The Weather On A Country's Economy
  66. 66
    How Temperature & Rainfall Affects The Weathering Of Rocks
  67. 67
    The Benefits Of Living In A Dry Climate
  68. 68
    Does The Moon Affect The Weather?

Important Weather Tips

  1. 69
    What To Do When Caught Outside During A Lightning Storm
  2. 70
    What To Do When A Tornado Strikes
  3. 71
    How To Protect Your House From Lightning
  4. 72
    What Not To Do When A Tornado Strikes
  5. 73
    What To Do During A Thunderstorm
  6. 74
    How To Predict The Weather Using Nature
  7. 75
    What To Do In A Heat Wave
  8. 76
    How To Survive Extreme Cold Weather Conditions
  9. 77
    Using Clouds To Tell Future Weather Events
  10. 78
    Steps To Take Against Monsoon Dangers
  11. 79
    Do Not Be Fooled By A Hurricane's Downgraded Strength 
  12. 80
    What To Do When Weather Changes While On A Boat

Home Weather Station Tips And Helpful Information

  1. 81
    Always Consider Height When Placing Your Home Indoor Weather Station
  2. 82
    Choose Your Room Where Your Indoor Weather Console Will Be Placed Very Carefully
  3. 83
    Always Place Your Outside Sensor Array High Enough From The Ground Surface
  4. 84
    The Amount Of Weather Sensors Do NOT Determine The Quality Of Your Home Weather Station
  5. 85
    Do NOT Rely Solely On Your Personal Weather Station's Forecasts For All Your Local Weather Information
  6. 86
    Avoid Using The Default Settings When Installing An Advanced Home Weather Station
  7. 87
    Never Blindly Follow The Claimed "Maximum Wireless Distance" Between Your Indoor Base Station & Outdoor Sensors.
  8. 88
    Be Careful Where You Place Your Indoor Display Console
  9. 89
    Place Your Sensor Array Far Enough Away From A Large Solid Structure
  10. 90
    Don't Place Your Weather Station Close To A Body Of Water, Or Right In The Middle Of Some Lush Green Bushes

Climate Facts

  1. 91
    What Is Climate Change?
  2. 92
    Yes, Climate Change Is Real
  3. 93
    The Vital Role Of Climate In Soil Formation
  4. 94
    Climate Affects Agriculture And The Fishing Industry
  5. 95
    The Important Relationship Between Climate And Vegetation
  6. 96
    Climate And Geography
  7. 97
     Climate Change And Heat
  8. 98
    Climate Change And Rainfall
  9. 99
    Climate Does Have An Effect On Life Expectancy
  10. 100
    Climate Is Not Weather
  11. 101
    Never Stop Learning

With all the facts, general information, and tips listed, one can now take a closer look at each individual one.

General Weather Facts

1) The Weather Is And Always Will Be Unpredictable

This why the poor weather forecaster gets it so horribly wrong sometimes, and meteorologists and weather services are so often blamed and considered "worthless."

Unpredictable Weather

There literally are thousands of variables influencing weather on a local and regional scale, and most of them can change in a very short period of time. Just mentioning most of them and their influence will necessitate the writing of an encyclopedia. 

This is why national weather services use supercomputers filling entire buildings, just busy processing all these variables and other information received from all over and above the planet, with the single goal to be able to accurately and reliably make short and long-term weather and climate forecasts.

But the fact is, the weather will remain forever unpredictable, and as soon as we think we got it figured out, it will change the rules or throw in a new variable.

But the fact is, the weather will remain forever unpredictable, and as soon as we think we got it figured out, it will change the rules or throw in a new variable.

So next time the weather forecaster gets it very wrong, take it easy on him/her. They are doing their best against a formidable foe.

2) Rainfall - Definition

Rainfall is the amount of precipitation (water in its liquid form) measured in a specific area over a set period of time and is measured by a rain gauge.

rain

It occurs after the air becomes saturated with water vapor and is not able to further hold the water in its gaseous state, which leads to condensation and the formation of water droplets.

Microdroplets combine to form bigger water droplets, which keep growing until it becomes too heavy to be held up by winds in the cloud formation and fall to the ground.

Read more about rainfall, and also precipitation in general, in this article.

3) The Difference Between Weather And Climate

Weather can be seen as the atmospheric conditions at a specific point in time over a specific region. It measures specific weather variables over a fairly small period of time. 

Climate, on the other hand, is measured over a much longer period of time (at least 30 years or more). It can be best explained as the average of weather conditions at a specific location, determined over time.

Climate helps you to determine future weather tendencies, for example, what atmospheric conditions to expect during certain seasons in a specific region. (For example, what the weather is normally like in February in New York.)

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

4) Heatwave - Definition

A heatwave refers to a period of prolonged exceptionally hot weather, often accompanied by high humidity levels. It is often determined when compared to the hottest average temperatures from the region during the same period measured during previous seasons.

There is obviously a lot more to a heatwave than this simple explanation. If you would like to find out more, you can get it in this article.

5) Wind Chill - Definition

wind chill

Wind chill (or wind chill factor as it is more commonly known) refers to the phenomena where we experience the temperature around us to be much colder than it actually is.

This is caused by the wind blowing the surrounding cold air directly against you, making you experience colder temperatures than a thermometer may suggest.

6) Dry Spell (As Opposed To A Drought)

A dry spell can be defined as a sustained period of dry weather with lower water and soil moisture levels due to a lack of the average expected rainfall.

A region with significant lower rainfall figures during its rainy season, compared to that of previous seasons, can be regarded as experiencing a dry spell.

7) Thunderstorm - Definition

Thunderstorms can be described as fairly short-live and violent disturbances in the weather, normally associated with lightning and thunder (the sound produced by lightning), strong winds, heavy rains, and sometimes even hail.

They are normally associated with a sudden buildup of cumulonimbus clouds. Very often, they are also the result of the development of a powerful low-pressure system.

You can find out more about thunderstorms and their development in this article.

8) Jet Streams - Definition

Jet streams are defined as long narrow bands of strong winds, blowing at high velocities above the earth's surface, normally found in the upper troposphere at heights of 9 to 16 kilometers (30 000–52 000 feet) above sea level.

There are four major jet streams present above the earth's surface, and they all have a huge influence on the global climate and the formation of various weather systems.

9) Cold Front - Definition

Cold Front

A cold front occurs when the leading edge of a large body of cold air moves into a region of warmer air. The boundary between these two air masses is called a cold front.

A cold front is usually associated with stormy weather conditions, including wind, rain, clouds, and potentially thunderstorms.

10) Warm Front - Definition

Warm Front

A warm front occurs when the leading edge of a large body of warm air moves into a region with cooler air. The boundary where these two air masses meet is called a warm front.

A warm front is normally associated with slow-moving stratus-type clouds producing light rains for a sustained period of time. (This type of rain is welcomed and preferred in the agricultural sector due to its soft and persistent nature).

Read more about the difference between a cold and warm front in this article.

11) Low-Pressure System - Definition

A low-pressure system is a mass of air which weight is significantly lower (or there is more space between the molecules present in this volume of air) than that of the air in the surrounding areas.

It is typically the result of air rising from the surface of the planet into the atmosphere, leaving an area of low pressure at the surface.  The rising air is caused by one of two different processes: Wind Divergence Aloft or Thermal Lows.

You can read more about its development and characteristics in this article.

12) High-Pressure System - Definition

A high-pressure system is a mass of air which weight is significantly more (or there is less space between the molecules present in this volume of air) than that of the air in the surrounding areas.

Simply put, a high-pressure system occurs where the atmospheric pressure on the earth's surface is higher than that of surrounding areas.

You can also read more about its development and characteristics in this same article.

13) A Cold Front Does Not Always Lead To Rainy Weather, While A Warm Front Does Not Always Lead To Dry Weather Conditions

The word "cold" is very often mentioned in the same breath as wet and rainy weather, while the word "warm" is mentioned just as often in the same breath as dry and pleasant weather conditions.

It actually happens so often that it resulted in an almost unconscious tendency by most people to automatically associate cold with wet and warm with dry weather conditions. It is completely normal, so you cannot really be blamed for making such an assumption.

To put the record straight, both cold and warm fronts have the potential to bring cloudy and rainy weather with them. Their characteristics and the impact they have on their environment are what sets them apart, however.

The arrival of a cold front is normally very abrupt, accompanied by heavy rains and stormy weather conditions, including strong winds and thunderstorms, which normally moves very quickly and can dissipate as quickly as it arrived.

(This dramatic and violent nature of cold fronts helped establish this strong association many people have formed between cold fronts and stormy wet weather.)

A warm front, on the other hand, takes much longer to build up as moves much slower than a cold front. It is also characterized by a light but much more sustained rainfall, which can last for several hours to even days.

For the purpose of this article, it is not necessary to examine these two systems in much more detail. If you are interested, you can read more in-depth information in this article.

14) Hurricanes, Typhoons And Tropical Cyclones - All Essentially One-And-The-Same Weather System

It can be very confusing when weather forecasts refer to different devastating storm systems around the world, and randomly use terms like "hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones.

Luckily there is a fairly simple answer to this complex-looking question...

hurricane, cyclone and typhoon

They are all one and the same type of storm!

So why all the different names? Luckily, there is also a fairly simple answer for this one as well, and it's all got to do with location.

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 develops over the South Pacific Ocean or the Indian Ocean.

"Tropical Cyclone" is the umbrella term used by meteorologists to describe all forms of these storms, from tropical depressions and tropical storms to hurricanes and typhoons. (All these storm systems originate over the warm waters of the oceans in tropical and subtropical regions.)

And that is really all there is to it when it comes to the different names given to what is basically the same type of storm system. 

There are obviously some small differences in their characteristics, but not really of much importance in the context of this article. I dedicated a complete article to the subject of hurricanes/typhoons. If you are interested, you can read all about them in this article.

15) The Earth Is Struck By Lightning A 100 Times Every Second

We often think of lightning as something special and extraordinary, especially for those of us who don't experience it very often.

They are, however, a lot more of a common occurrence than we might think. In fact, as the heading already stated, around the globe, there are about a hundred lightning strikes every second.

Common or not, nothing can diminish the spectacle of a powerful lightning display. Nor should its power and reach ever be misjudged or taken lightly.

Not only is the heat around a bolt of lightning five times hotter than the surface of the sun, the power of one lightning bolt is estimated to contain up to a billion volts of electricity.

16) The Top Speed At Which Raindrops Can Fall is 18 MPH

Considering how loud the rain sounds as it hits the roof of your home or trees in the garden during a heavy downpour, it is easy to imagine how fast these raindrops must be traveling.

Rain Speed

Not as fast as you might think, though. The maximum speed at which a raindrop can fall is actually only 18 mph (29 km/h). This is a result of both gravity and drag.

Naturally, once a raindrop is formed, gravity pulls it to the ground. As it travels to the ground it starts to accelerate. As it accelerates, it is met by resistance from the air, called drag, which slows down the speed of the raindrop until it falls at an average speed of 18 mph.

This is under ideal conditions. When raindrops are caught in strong hurricane winds of more than 100 mph, it can easily be blown horizontally at much higher speeds.

17) Coldest And Hottest Weather Recorded

Most of us think it's freezing when the temperature drop below 0° Celsius (32° Fahrenheit). Similarly, we think it's very hot when temperatures rise above 35° Celsius (95° Fahrenheit).

What if I tell you that the coldest temperature ever recorded was -89.2° Celsius (-128.5° Fahrenheit)? Well, this actually happened on 21 July 1983 in Vostok, Antarctica.

Not to be outdone when it comes to extremities, Greenland Range in Death Valley, California, recorded a maximum temperature of 56.7°Celsius (134° Fahrenheit) on 10 July 1913.

I will admit that this is little conciliation for those of you who either get cold or hot very quickly. Just try and remember, it really could have been a LOT worse.

18)  Fog Does Not Contain As Much Moisture As We May Think

Many people, especially those living near the coast in colder regions of the world, may often experience fog. Any of you who ever got caught in thick fog while commuting in your car will be very aware of how unsettling and unpredictable this experience can feel.  

fog

The inability to see more than a few feet ahead of you while being on the move, not knowing what to expect, can be a terrifying experience. You will be forgiven for thinking that the air must be completely saturated with moisture under these circumstances.

However, a cubic mile of fog contains less than a gallon of water, not nearly as much as you would expect when experiencing a "wall of fog" first hand.

What makes the fog seem so dense and impenetrable is partly due to the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of water microdroplets filling the air. They all act as little mirrors, reflecting light instead of letting it through.

You can imagine how difficult it will be for any light to pass through this mass of microdroplets, with all of them reflecting and bouncing the light, hitting them off each other, and back to you.

Read all about the difference between fog and mist in this article.

19) The Country Most Affected By Tornadoes Are The USA

Outranking any other country by averaging around 1200 tornadoes per year, the United States Of America sees more tornadoes than most other countries combined.

There is a reason why this happens so often, though. An area in Central America, commonly referred to as Tornado Alley, has both the typography and weather conditions ideal for the formation of tornadoes.

The relevantly flat service of the Great Plains in Central America, combined with the cold air moving in from Canada colliding with the warm air from the Gulf Of Mexico, forms the perfect recipe for the formation of a supercell.

And it is within a supercell that tornadoes are created through a series of processes. You can read an indepth report on tornadoes, how and where they are formed, as well as their characteristics\ in this article.  

20) Dew Point, Relative Humidity And Comfort Level

Simply put, dew point is the temperature at which the air is fully saturated with water vapor. If the temperature drops any further, condensation will take place, and small drops of water will form.

dew on grass

As the name suggests, relative humidity measures the amount of moisture in the air relative to the air temperature at a specific location. (This is the most common way used to calculate humidity, unlike absolute humidity, which measures humidity regardless of temperature.)

Now you would wonder what all of this has to do with comfort level. Well, most of us know the uncomfortable sticky, and exhausting feeling we experience during hot and humid weather conditions.

What may come as a surprise, though, is that dew point, and not relative humidity, is the more accurate means of measuring the level to which we are experiencing this discomfort.

This may all sound a bit confusing, I know. If you would like to get more answers and better understand the process, you read more about in this article

21) The Windiest Place On Earth

A while ago, I wrote an article about gale-force winds and how many cities, like San Francisco and Cape Town, often experience these prolonged strong winds. I stated how these strong gusty winds, occurring during otherwise clear and sunny days, can make life miserable for these cities' inhabitants.

After stumbling across the following facts, though, I think I should reconsider my attitude towards these gale-force winds and stop complaining about them so much. The reason for this will become evident soon.

Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, has been named the windiest in the world (and is even recognized by the Guinness Book of Records). Wind speeds of up to 200 mph (322 km/h) have been recorded, and the region has an average annual wind speed of 50 mpg (80 km/h)!

I don't think I, or anyone else, will try and challenge these claims, or try and go find out for ourselves. You will now understand why I am considering taking a less critical approach to these "small little breezes" that are so persistent in our windy cities.

Read more about Commonwealth Bay, as well as the top 11 windiest locations in the world in this article.

22) Hail, And How It Is Formed

Hail is the result of water drops that are caught in the updrafts of a storm cloud. As they travel up into sub-zero temperatures, they freeze and form balls of ice.

hail

These balls of ice collide with supercooled water drops at sub-zero temperatures. As soon as a supercooled water drop touches the surface of a ball of ice (or ice crystal), it freezes, causing the hailstone to grow.

The size to which a hailstone can grow depends on the strength of the updrafts and the number of times the hailstone can be lifted up into sub-zero temperatures and collect more supercooled water drops.

Once the strengths of updrafts can no longer support the weight of the hailstone, gravity takes over, and the hailstone falls to the ground.

23) Vertical Structure (Layers) Of Earth's Atmosphere

The air above the ground can be divided into different layers. The best way to think of this is to use the analogy of an onion. Just like an onion, which has different layers that can be peeled away, the earth's atmosphere also consists of different layers of air.

There are five main layers surrounding the earth, called the:

  1. Troposphere 
  2. Stratosphere 
  3. Mesosphere 
  4. Thermosphere 
  5. Exosphere   

The troposphere starts at the planet's surface and reaches a maximum height of around 16 km (10 miles). It is in this layer where most life takes place and is characterized by a drop in temperature as altitude increases.

A thin layer of air called the tropopause forms the upper boundary of the troposphere.

The stratosphere can be found above the tropopause at a height of 16 km (10 miles) and reaches a maximum height of 50 km (31 miles). There is very little change in temperature in the stratosphere, but the small change shows a rise in temperature with an increase in height.

A layer of air called the stratopause forms the boundary between the stratosphere and mesosphere.

The mesosphere starts at a height of 50 km (31 miles) and reaches a maximum height of 80 km (50 miles) above the earth's surface. It is the coldest of the five layers, with temperatures dropping as low as -100° Celsius (-148° Fahrenheit). 

It is also the layer where most meteorites burn up as they enter the earth's atmosphere. (Seen from the surface as "shooting stars.")

Another layer of air called the mesopause forms the boundary between the mesosphere and the thermosphere.

The thermosphere starts at 80 km (50 miles) and reaches heights of up to 640 km (398 miles). Temperatures rise steeply in this layer, reaching temperatures of well above 1000° Celsius (1832° Fahrenheit).

The exosphere is the outermost layer of the planet and extends for thousands of miles into space with no clear border between the end of Earth's atmosphere and the start of space.

You can find an in-depth discussion of the Earth's five layers in this article.

24) Barometric Pressure - Definition & Measurement

All atmospheric air contains weight. And even though it may seem invisible, it contains all kinds of molecules and particles like nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and argon, all of them adding weight to the air.

Barometric (atmospheric) pressure simply refers to the force per unit area exerted by the weight of the atmosphere.

The instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure is called the barometer, developed by Evangelista Torricelli three centuries ago. In principle, it works by balancing the atmosphere against a column of mercury.

The two most common types of barometers are the mercurial and aneroid barometer. Although they are still used in certain applications today, the vast majority of modern barometers are digital, using different kinds of material to measure pressure.  

Read more about how a barometer works, as well as the different types of barometers in this article.

25) Wind - Definition & Development

Wind can be defined as the flow of air from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure (to restore the balance in air pressure and reach a state of equilibrium).

wind

The sun heats up the surface of the planet. Different areas of land and sea respond differently to solar radiation and heat up at different speeds. An area of landmass, for example, will heat up more quickly than the surface of the ocean.

As a result, the air over the land expands more quickly, creating an area of low pressure. The air over the ocean takes much longer to heat up, and the air expands more slowly, creating an area of higher pressure than the air mass over land. As a result, the wind will blow from the ocean (high-pressure) towards the land (low-pressure).

The strength of the wind is determined by the pressure gradient (the distance between the high and low pressures), indicated by isobars on a map. The steeper the pressure gradient (the closer together the high and low pressures are), the stronger the wind.

Find out more about the different types of wind and their characteristics in this article.

26) Trade Winds - Definition & Development

Trade winds refer to the winds blowing towards the equator, in the Northern Hemisphere from a northeasterly direction, and in the Southern Hemisphere from a southeasterly direction.

It is the result of the Coriolis Effect, which is caused by the rotation of the earth.

Trade winds originate at the two high-pressure belts, called the horse latitudes at both 25° and 30° north and south of the equator. The high-pressure belts force the air to the low-pressure belt (called the doldrums), next to the equator.

From here, the air is forced high into the air and move towards the poles. As a result of the Coriolis Effect, the air doesn't move directly north but is deflected in an easterly direction as it moves toward the poles.

In the polar regions, the air is cooled down and sinks back to the surface where it circulates back to the equator in the direction described in the introduction, completing the cycle of air movement.

27) What Causes A Ring/Halo Around The Moon

We often look at the full moon at night and notice a hazy looking ring (or halo) around it. It looks striking, especially when the conditions are just right.

ring around moon

Rings around the moon are nothing more than the refraction & reflection of the moonlight by millions of ice crystals present in cirrus clouds drifting at a height of 20 000 feet (6000 meters) or more above the earth's surface. Depending on where you stand, the ice crystals need to refract the light from the moon just at the right angle in order to see it. (This is why the circle is not visible to everyone. It all depends on your geographical location.)

You can read more about this phenomenon in this article.

28) What Is Virga And How Does It Work?

Virga can be seen as the magician of precipitation. Simply put, this type of rainfall hangs underneath a cloud but disappears before it reaches the ground.

This often happens when "rain" falls from high altitudes in the form of ice crystals. The friction and heat in the air cause it to melt and evaporate as it falls to the ground.

If you need more information about virga, you can find it in this article.

29) What Causes The Multi-Colored Ring Around The Sun

Just as rings are formed around the moon, rings around the sun are nothing more than the refraction & reflection of the sunlight by millions of ice crystals present in cirrus clouds drifting at a height of 20 000 feet (6000 meters) or more above the earth's surface.

Very much like the shape of raindrops causing the different colors in a rainbow to appear, the faceted (specifically six-sided) shape of ice crystals not only refract the light of the sun but also breaks it up into its individual colors.

This is why some rings around the sun appear to have a red tint on the inside and a bluish hue on the outside. (With the different colors of the rainbow vaguely visible in between.)

30) Contrails: What They Are And How They Are Formed

Contrails are the thin straight clouds we see high up in the atmosphere. Unlike most other weather phenomena, they are man-made and normally caused by airliners and other aircraft.

contrails

As an aircraft travels through the freezing cold weather of the upper atmosphere, the ice crystals in cirrus clouds are sucked up by the plane's engines. The warm water vapor that leaves the engine's exhaust immediately condensates and forms small water droplets.

As a result, these now-familiar long narrow trails of clouds are formed. Depending on altitude and humidity, they can last from a few seconds up to a few hours.

31) Supercells: Powerful And Destructive

A supercell can be classified as a large slow-moving thunderstorm, characterized by very strong and deep rotating updrafts (mesocyclone). They are by far the most deadly form of this type of storm system. 

These storm systems are so big that it is not uncommon for cloud formations to reach heights of 55 000 - 70 000 feet (16 000 - 21 000 meters). Apart from the strong updrafts in these clouds, supercells are also saturated with moisture. This leads to extreme weather conditions.

Not only are they one of only a handful of storm systems capable of producing tornadoes, but they are also responsible for extreme weather conditions like severe thunderstorms & lightning, heavy downpours, and large hail storms. 

These severe weather conditions can last for up to 4 hours. This can potentially result in massive devastation on the ground in the area directly affected by the storm.

32) The Substantial Weight Of Rain

When we think of rainfall, weight is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind. You might want to think twice if you take the following facts into consideration:

The actual weight of rain is quite substantial. On an acre of land, 1 inch of rain measures around 226 000 pounds (102 512 kg). It is also estimated that approximately 1 billion tons of rain fall on the earth every single minute.

This will help to explain why the effects of ocean activity are so powerful and why flooding is considered to be the most dangerous part of any storm system, including hurricanes.

33) The Highest Clouds In Our Atmosphere

If you were under the impression that cirrus clouds, consisting purely out of ice crystals, are the highest clouds in our atmosphere, you wouldn't be far off, but not entirely correct. After all, they "only" appear in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. 

noctilucent clouds

Noctilucent clouds (also referred to as night-shining clouds) are actually the highest clouds in the world and can be found in the mesosphere. It means altitudes in the region of 50 miles (80 kilometers) above the earth's surface.

These clouds appear at high latitudes, around 45 - 60 degrees north or south, and can mostly be found in polar regions, specifically countries like Scandinavia, Russia, and Canada.

At this high altitude, they consist completely out of ice crystals. They have a streaky and wave-like appearance, with a pale blue color (which is the result of the absorption of ozone in the path of sunlight illuminating the cloud.) 

Noctilucent clouds are most visible about 2 hours after sunset and display a stunning blue glow, which provides a beautiful contrast against the dark night sky as sunlight illuminates the cloud surface. 

34) The Smell Of A Rain

Let me first clarify before I get dragged to court by the fact-checkers. Rain and raindrops do not have any smell or aroma themselves.

Yet, most of us are familiar with that "fresh" smell in the air that accompanies or directly following a rain shower. If not rain, what and why are we actually smelling?

When it rains, geosmin (an organic compound) with a distinctly earthy flavor, consolidates with plant oils that are released from the soil, which creates the distinctive natural aroma and scent that hangs in the air after a rain shower, referred to as petrichor.

So it is neither your imagination nor the actual smell of rain, but the direct result of rain that is responsible for this distinctive pleasant aroma.

35) The Effect Of Lightning On Plant Life

Lightning is normally associated with devastation. In most cases, this is true. In some instances, however, it can have both a positive and negative effect on flora.

When it comes to trees, it is mostly bad news. When lightning hits a tree directly, the electrical current travels below the bark of the tree where there is more moisture (as moisture conducts electricity very effectively).

This inner layer is instantly heated and expands, causing the bark to be blown off the tree, and in some cases, for the wood to split. As a result, this will cause the whole tree to die.

For many plants, a process called nitrogen fixation is vital for them to absorb nitrogen, which is essential for promoting their growth. The extreme heat from lightning causes nitrogen to combine with oxygen, causing nitrogen oxides to form. In turn, it combines with the moisture in the air to provide plants with nitrate-rich water.

36) The Unique Display Of Nacreous Clouds

Nacreous clouds (also called mother-of-pearl clouds) are very rare but so spectacular that you won't easily forget the breathtaking sight.

nacreous clouds

They usually appear after sunset or before dawn and are lit up by the sun from well below the horizon. Nacreous clouds mostly appear in polar regions at high altitudes in the stratosphere at around 15 000 - 25 000 meters (49 000– 82 000 feet.)

The spectacular iridescent color display is a result of the small ice crystal scattering and refracting the light as it is hit by the sunlight from below the horizon.

You can learn more about nacreous clouds in this article.

37 The Shape Of a Raindrop

We are all very familiar with the shape of a raindrop in the form of a teardrop. The only problem with this assumption is that it is an entirely false representation of what the real shape of a raindrop is.

In reality, its shape is more spherical or elliptical, depending on the size of the raindrop, as well as two forces working against each other. They are the air pressure pushing against the raindrop and the surface tension of the raindrop itself.

Raindrops vary in size from 0.1 to 10 mm in size. The smaller raindrops have a mostly spherical shape. As they increase in size, they become more flat and elliptical. Once they exceed 4.5 mm, they become distorted and almost represent the shape of a parachute.

Get more in-depth information about the shape and formation of a raindrop in this article.

38) Thunderstorms Can Be The Result Of Human Activity

Although the vast majority of thunderstorms occur as a result of natural phenomena, there are a few instances where man-made actions are, in fact, the impetus for a few of these storms.

Comprehensive studies indicate that the heat generated by big cities and the resulting increase in temperature in and around them (as a result of the Urban Heat Island effect) can trigger thunderstorms that would not have occurred in their absence.

Another human creation, the warm, unstable air produced by the cooling stacks of nuclear power plants, has shown some evidence of also triggering smaller types of thunderstorms.

39) Wind And Sun As Powerful Sources Of Renewable Energy

Most of you already know how solar energy from the sun is used as a renewable power source, growing exponentially by the year. From solar panels on the roof of a domestic home to solar farms with thousands of solar panels able to power a small town, it has become a widely-used and welcome source of energy.

Wind Turbines

The power of wind energy can and is already being harnessed on an increasing basis. Especially in areas experiencing substantial wind activity all year round, the use of wind farms is also on the increase. Even offshore wind farms are growing in popularity as the naturally occurring land & sea breezes are being put to use.

Just to give you an indication of the potential energy that can be harvested from the wind, the electricity produced by the largest wind turbine (found on wind farms) is enough to power 600 homes. The smaller wind turbine sometimes found in large backyards can easily power your home or small business.

The bottom line is that these elements of weather are not just something we experience, but in many cases, valuable resources that we can explore and use.

40) Raindrops Are Not Always Made Of Water

This one is thrown in more for entertainment purposes and is not information that can be used in practice. (Except if interplanetary travel becomes very affordable and the ability to survive in extremely hostile environments becomes possible.)

Like on earth, rain also falls on other planets, with a slight difference. Instead of water, sulfuric acid rains on planets like Venus. Methane pours from the skies on Titan (Saturn's largest moon), and Jupiter experience the occasional "refreshing" liquid helium rain shower.

And last but not least, on a planet about 5 000 light-years away, scientists discovered raindrops made of iron.

On these planets, if the natural environment won't kill you, the rain definitely will. Maybe we should keep it in mind next time we want to complain about the weather.

41) Weather Patterns On Neighboring Planets

After reading the previous point, you know that "rain" is not unique to earth. Well, you probably will not be too surprised then if you learn that some other familiar weather phenomena on earth occur on other planets as well.

The only significant difference is that the size and force of the weather on most of our neighboring planets make earth's most extreme weather seem like a mere ripple in a pond.

Saturn

Winds of various speeds occur on many of the planets in our solar system. With wind speeds on Saturn reaching 1800 km/h (1118 mph), and those on Neptune topping even that by reaching speeds of 2100 km/h (1305 mph), I have a suspicion Earth may not be quite in the same league.

This suspicion is confirmed when we look at storm systems on other planets. Just like the Earth, they also experience severe storms. They are, however, "slightly" bigger in size and duration. The red spot that has been a very noticeable feature since man started observing the planet Jupiter is nothing more than a huge storm, about twice the size of the Earth. And if that doesn't make much of an impression, the fact that it has been raging for at least 300 years should do the trick.

I think when it comes to extreme weather events, we should rather not try and compare ourselves with our neighbors in the solar system.

Learn more about extreme weather on other planets in this article.

42) The Definition Of A Monsoon And How It Is Formed

A monsoon is the weather phenomenon that forms over India and Southeast Asia during the warm summer months, bringing massive torrential rains to the subcontinent.

It is caused by a change in wind direction, as southerly winds move from the high-pressure system over the warm Indian and Western Pacific Oceans. It picks up large volumes of moisture from these warm ocean water as it moves north towards the low-pressure system present over the continent.

When the air reaches land, it starts to rise and cools down as it gains altitude. The cooler air can no longer hold the moisture, and condensation takes place, leading to large-scale rainfall over the region.

In turn, the cooler air moves back over the ocean. This completes the cycle of airflow that creates the structure of a monsoon.

(Although monsoons are mostly associated with India and Southeast Asia, It has to be noted that monsoons also occur over the Southwestern United States as well as West Africa.)

43) The Cause Of A Ring/Halo Around The Sun

Sometimes we look at the sun during different times of the day and notice a hazy but spectacular looking ring around it. We often see the same phenomenon around the moon during the night, but most of us have no idea what it really is.

Colorful rings around the sun are nothing more than the refraction & reflection of the sunlight by millions of ice crystals present in cirrus clouds drifting at a heights of 20 000 feet (6000 meters) or more above the earth's surface.

Depending on where you stand, the ice crystals need to refract the light from the sun just at the right angle in order to see it. (This is why the circle is not visible to everyone. It all depends on your personal location.)

44) What Are Weather Balloons And What Do They Do?

Most you already heard about weather balloons. We sometimes hear them mentioned during weather forecasts, and they have even been mistaken for UFO "sightings" numerous times, causing some controversy. But what exactly are they, and what is their purpose?

weather balloon

A weather balloon is a specific type of balloon, designed to carry meteorological equipment high up into the upper troposphere or lower stratosphere (up to 100 000 feet or 30 480 meters), to provide meteorologists with valuable data about the temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and other variables.

This data, transmitted back to earth via radio transmitters, are used by meteorologists to analyze current and forecast future weather condition.

It is about 6 to 8 feet (1.40 to 2.40 meters) in diameter, made of strong, flexible latex, with the weather instruments (contained in a radiosonde) attached to the bottom.

You can read all about weather balloons in this article.

45) The Effect Of Climate Change On Animal Life

If you think us humans are having a rough time adjusting to extreme weather conditions, spare a thought for our friends in the animal kingdom. They may be in for a rough ride ahead.

It's not all bad news, though, especially if you are a male sea turtle in the Great Barrier Reef. A recent survey showed that 86.8% of all turtles in the area are now female. This is because the sex of a sea turtle is determined by water temperature while they are still in their eggs. 

Warmer water favors female turtle development, while colder water encourages male turtles development. The global rise in ocean temperatures can clearly be seen in the domination of female sea turtles in this area. It may spell trouble for future reproduction and survival of the species, though.

Bats, especially the gray-headed flying foxes, are literally dropping out of the sky during heatwaves in Australia. (The heat disorientates them as it affects their brains.) Some literally die while still clinging onto branches in the simmering heat.

In the Northern Arctic Region, it is the shocking decline of the polar bear population that really should be sounding the alarm. It is estimated that the polar bear population has dropped by a devastating 40% between 2001 and 2010.

polar bears

This is a direct result of the increasing breakup of the icecaps do to the global rise in temperature. Polar bears need this floating ice for both feeding and breeding. As the ice is breaking up, polar bears are starting to move more south in an attempt to survive, but this is forcing them out of their natural habitat.  

Another effect of global warming is that it also influences the flow of the ocean's currents, changing their direction in many cases. This means abnormally cold water temperatures are now experienced in areas not accustomed to these cold waters.

Recently, thresher sharks who are unable to withstand and survive these cold temperatures died when freezing conditions hit the waters around Cape Cod near Massachusetts, and their frozen carcasses were washed ashore.

These are just a few examples of dozens of animal life across the world being in danger of being wiped out by Global Warming.

46) Most Severe Weather Extremes The Human Body Can Survive

By now, most climatologists and meteorologists know what the short and long term effects of extreme weather are, and how it affects us. As extreme weather conditions are continuing to worsen, it is becoming increasingly important to know to what extent the human body can handle these extremities.

What is even more important is to know what the limit of the human body is. Especially when it comes to temperature, knowing what the highest and lowest temperature is a person can experience before it becomes fatal is an important question that needs to be answered.

Needless to say, this is not something that can easily be tested for moral and ethical reasons, but using past human experiences combined with controlled experiments, much more are known today than ever before.

When we look at short term exposure to warm weather, the human body is unable to survive temperatures above 60° Celsius (140° Fahrenheit) in humid conditions for more than 10 minutes. Obviously there are many other factors that also affect mortality, and long-term effects is not even taken into consideration.

When we look at extreme cold weather, it is a bit harder to tell exactly how cold the weather must be and for how long the human body is exposed to it before it becomes fatal.

This because our survival depends on our core body temperature. Once it drops below 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit), your body normally expires. How low the temperature has to be and for how long is quite hard to pinpoint.

(Just to give you a general indication, though, at -45° Celsius (-50° Fahrenheit), you will experience frostbite if your skin is not predicted.)

Factors like windchill, exposure to water, clothing, age, and your immune system all play a role in determining what the coldest weather is you can tolerate.

Many other weather variables like air pressure, humidity, and solar radiation need to be examined in much more detail. These are all factors that will change due to Climate Change, and we are not quite sure exactly it will affect our bodies yet.

47)  Why We Feel More Uncomfortable In Humid Weather

Our bodies try and keep our core temperature under control during warm weather conditions by perspiring. The moisture forming on our skin evaporates, cooling our skin and body down in the process. (We also feel this effect to a greater extend when a light breeze blows against our skin, amplifying the cooling effect as the moisture evaporates from our skin more quickly.)

dehydration

This works very efficiently in dry weather conditions, where there is little moisture in the air. Near the coast or close to the tropics, though, the air contains a lot more moisture, and sometimes the air is close to fully saturated with water vapor.

In cases like this, the perspiration on our skin has little or nowhere to escape to, as the humid and saturated air does not have any capacity to absorb any more moisture. As a result, the moisture cannot evaporate from our skin, and it becomes increasingly difficult to cool down.

(This is also why we get that uncomfortable sticky feeling when it is humid. It is the perspiration on our skin, unable to escape.)

48) Can Extremely Hot Weather Really Melt Roads?

In short, yes! You should have heard the stories by now, especially during a heatwave, that roads have become so hot that it actually started melting and sticking to the wheels of vehicles. And it is no exaggeration.

A tar road's surface is made up out of a gravel base, crushed rock, and bitumen. Bitumen is the compound holding the whole construction together. And it is the bitumen that starts to go soft when temperatures reach a certain point.  

Even at temperatures of 30 ° Celsius, roads can still melt. Temperatures are measured in the shade, which means areas exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time can reach much higher temperatures.

Normally at 50° Celsius, bitumen starts to soften, which causes the road surface to lose its ability to keep its shape. This leads to the soft and sticky road surface, often described as the road melting.

Roads in different countries will respond differently to weather conditions, as construction companies can change the make-up and combination of materials used in the construction of a road's surface to best suit the average temperatures of a specific region.

(This is why roads in Australia will be able to tolerate much higher temperatures than those made Norway when constructed to suit local needs.)

49) What Exactly Is The Ozone Layer And How Does It Protect Us

When concern about climate change was raised for the first time, the ozone layer was one of the first trending topics. Man's destruction of the ozone layer and the hole in the ozone layer was one of the first talking points during the "early years." So what is the ozone layer exactly, and why is it so important?

Simply put, the ozone layer is a deep layer found in the stratosphere at a height of approximately 10 km (6.2 miles), encircling the entire earth. It contains high levels of ozone, which protects the earth's surface from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation.

After it was discovered that the chemical "chlorofluorocarbons" (used in refrigerators, aerosols, and some fire extinguishers) were destroying the ozone, it was banned after the 1973 Montreal Protocol was signed.

Since then, there was some evidence that the ozone layer started to recover.

50) Using Waves & Lightning As Renewable Energy Source

At the time of writing this article, governments of countries are coming together on a regular basis, trying to discuss and come to some kind of agreement, to try and find a way to slow down and even stop Global Warming.

By now, there isn't a single scientist on the planet under any doubt that the reduction and eventual complete ceasing of the use of any form of fossil fuel are not just necessary, but essential to stop the damage already done, although many believe it's already too late.

This is not just a topic for a big separate article, but a whole encyclopedia, so I will keep it short.

The potential power from the oceans' waves and currents (which are powered by wind patterns around the globe) are being studied and developed as we speak, with many working prototypes already hard at work. 

lightning bolt

Lightning is another potential source of incredible power. One lightning bolt contains over 5 billion Joules of energy, enough to power a complete household for a month.

Many failed attempts and theories to catch and use this power, has highlighted the difficulties in trying to capture that much power. And we don't even know when or where it will strike, or how to capture it to start with.

As difficult as it is for scientists to figure out a way to capture and harness this incredible power, the solution is just one breakthrough away.

So what is the point of highlighting all these renewable energy sources? The answer is that the weather alone provides more than enough power to satisfy current and future global energy demands.

The biggest single factor that is holding us back is the lack of storage capacity. All this power is useless if we don't develop battery capacity to the point where it and can store large amounts of power for extended periods of time.

We probably would have been at the point of completely eliminating the problem by now if the research wasn't held back and slowed down for decades. Simply because of politics, red tape, and economic manipulation to keep oil and coal at the forefront of energy production by governments and large international energy corporations for decades.

But you know the saying, "Necessity is the mother of all invention." Well, since it became clear that fossil fuels are finite, and so is our planet's ecosystem, we reached a tipping point.

A little more than a decade ago, the Toyota Prius really started the electric car revolution and was released worldwide. It was a combination of electric and internal combustion power. The second-generation all-electric Prius, released less than a decade ago, had an electric range of 25 miles (40 km).

Compare this with the latest Tesla Model S, which has taken battery capacity to a whole new level and has an all-electric range of 335 miles (539 km)! More than twice that of the Prius in less than a decade. Imagine where we will be in another decade.

The point is that nature has more than enough energy, and human ingenuity & know-how has the ability to harness and store this energy to be used in anything from a power station to a cargo ship traveling for thousands of miles across the world's oceans. 

It really is just a matter of time...

51) Cloud Seeding And Other Attempts To Make It Rain

Attempts to artificially create rain dates back to the 1940s. The first attempts were made through a process called cloud seeding. In 1946, Dr. Bernard Vonnegut discovered that supercooled water droplets would turn into ice when it came into contact with silver iodide.

Cloud seeding is the release of silver iodide by an aircraft into the atmosphere above a cloud, saturated with an adequate amount of moisture. The theory is that the silver iodide will collide with the supercooled water droplets, turning them into ice, which will then fall to the ground while melting into raindrops.

Obviously, this method caused a lot of controversies and is still criticized by fellow meteorologists and even ridiculed in some circles. Although the jury is still out on its effectiveness, there is growing evidence that this method is actually effective under the right circumstances and can increase rainfall by 10-15%.

Quite a few more methods and theories are constantly being developed to try and modify weather events. This includes China's arsenal of 5000 rocket launchers, which is fired into the clouds, releasing particles in an attempt to make it rain.

Abu Dhabi is using umbrella-shaped towers to send negatively charged particles into the sky to create rainfall. I will spare you the details, but let's just say that most meteorological experts are skeptical at best. 

52) The Effect Of Weather On Your Mood

We all know the stereotypes and associations: Being down and depressed (having the winter blues), having a sunny disposition (normally associated with summer and the sunny weather making people feel more positive and happy) etc.

Sweating

I honestly thought I was the only exception to the rule. Warm and sunny weather always makes it difficult for me to concentrate and makes me feel irritated very quickly.

I also hate getting hot and sticky, and exposure to direct sunlight always gives me a headache and have a negative effect on my tolerance levels. Not to mention the feeling of being constantly tired and lethargic. Some research needed to be done...   

So, what do the experts say? As it turns out, the weather does indeed affect our moods, but not in the way you might think.

In 2008, a group of German researchers conducted a study on 1233 people. Apart from the expected physical effect of getting tired and exhausted by exposure to sunlight, they couldn't establish any general relationship between weather and mood, due to each subject's own sensitivity to weather.

Theo Klimstra examined this further, and after conducting a study in 2011, he concluded that people could be divided roughly into four distinct groups as their moods relate to the weather:

  1. Unaffected People (no associations between weather and mood)
  2. Summer Lovers (a better mood with sunny and warm weather)
  3. Summer Haters (a worse mood with sunny and warm weather)
  4. Rain Haters (a bad mood during rainy weather)

This study reinforced an earlier study done by Mathew Keller, who also couldn't find any specific correlation between weather and mood on a broad spectrum of individuals.

So, the weather definitely affects the way we feel. What type of weather triggers what type of mood might be entirely up to you personally, though.

53) Man-Made Attempts To Affect The Weather

In a previous point, we already discussed how cloud seeding is used to artificially trigger rainfall in a cloud saturated with moisture, with varying amounts of success.

Rain is not the only form of weather that we are trying to effect, though. Unlike rain, some weather events are trying to be prevented and not promoted. And with good reason.

Hail storms cause millions of dollars of damage to crops, vineyards, and plantations worldwide each year. It is entirely understandable that serious attempts are being made to limit or even prevent it.

The hail cannon is one of the most well-known and popular inventions used to try and stop hail from occurring. An explosion is set off in the lower chamber of the cannon, sending a large boom into the sky. The process is repeated every few seconds as stormclouds start to move in.

The reasoning behind this method is that the shockwave caused by the explosion will break hailstones apart before it reaches the ground.  There is, however, very little scientific evidence that this method actually works and is mostly met by criticism from the scientific community.

Another weather event man is trying to control lightning, which is as dangerous as it is spectacular. Its power and unpredictable nature are just a few of many reasons attempts are being made to manipulate it.

One approach is to attach one end of a wire to the ground, with the other end attached to a rocket that is fired into the storm cloud. The thinking behind this idea is to lead the lightning down the wire to control the path of the lightning strike.

Not knowing when or where a lightning bolt will form makes this approach a rather futile endeavor. Recent experiments using a high-intensity laser beam to redirect lightning, conducted by the University of Arizona, is showing more promise.

54) Tornadoes On Mars?

Yes, you read that right. And the answer is also yes, well sort of—time to explain.

The fact that NASA has been landing probes on Mars since the end of the last century, combined with an increasing amount of satellites (rotating the red planet and studying its surface), allowed us to learn a lot more about our neighbor.

One of the surprising phenomena we probably didn't expect to find was the millions of tornado-like whirlwinds occurring across the planet. 

dust devils

Actually, they are not technically tornadoes but dust devils, a much smaller (and mostly harmless) whirlwind that is also found back here on earth. It is caused by swirling updrafts in sunny conditions.

On Mars, there are literally millions of these dust devils (around 13 meters in diameter and reaching up to a kilometer in height) present on the surface at any given time, formed in low-pressure systems. 

This means that wherever you find yourself on the planet's surface, you will be able to see dozens of these small whirlwinds that hang around for a few minutes before disappearing.

I know we already touched on weather events on other planets in an earlier section, but this is such a unique phenomenon that occurs on such a large scale on Mars that it really deserves its own section.

55) Why The Sky Is Blue (Seriously...)

This is something we have all been very well aware of throughout most of our lives. When you look at the sky on a sunny, cloudless day, it appears blue. As simple as that. The only reason you may look twice and be taken by surprise is looking up, and the sky has turned into some other color besides blue.

But how many of you really know why the sky is blue? After all, the light generated by the sun is actually white. But as some of you who had ever seen the light shown through a prism will know, white light actually consists of many colors - all the colors of the rainbow, to be precise.

Each of these colors travels at different wavelengths. As light from the sun hits the earth's atmosphere, these colors get scattered by particles and gases in the air. Blue light gets scattered around much more than any of the other colors, making them highly visible.

As a result, it's the scattered blue light that gives the sky its blue color. It is not a case of the other colors not reaching the atmosphere at all. They simply don't get scattered as much as blue light, and as a result, are not as visible.

56) It Is Literally Raining Fish And Frogs

If you ever heard stories of frozen frogs or fish raining from the sky, you can be forgiven for being a bit skeptical. It is actually a very real but rare phenomenon that happens all over the world. There is also a very logical and straightforward explanation for these occurrences.

The most accepted and logical theory is that it is the direct result of tornadoes. Tornadoes (in the form of waterspouts) travel over water. The strong suction power of the surface winds picks up the surface water and living creatures in it.

Supercells, the cloud system in which tornadoes occur, have a very high vertical buildup. They can easily reach heights of 12 km (40 000 feet). As a result, they can carry aquatic life like frogs and fish high up into the upper atmosphere and drop them several miles away to fall to the ground "from seemingly nowhere."

It is no surprise then that occurrences of frogs falling to the ground in various states (from alive and bewildered to completely frozen) have been reported.

57) Meteotsunami (Or Meteorological Tsunami)

A Meteotsunami also called a meteorological tsunami, it is very often mistaken for a "normal" tsunami that is caused by seismic activity (like earthquakes or the shifting of tectonic plates).

Unlike a typical tsunami, a meteotsunami is the result of a sudden change in atmospheric conditions, specifically air pressure. A sudden disturbance in air pressure, often caused by fast-moving weather systems like squall lines, triggers the wave movement.

If the wave is formed in relatively deep waters, it travels in exactly the same way as a regular tsunami, carrying a lot of momentum with it, which allows the wave to build up in height as it enters shallow waters.

The same catastrophic results also follow when it makes landfall,  flooding the shoreline with large volumes of devastating water.

This means it doesn't matter whether an earthquake or low-pressure system causes the wave and the resulting devastation. It simply means that a weather event can be just as an important impetus as any seismic activity in the formation of a tsunami.

58) Frost Flowers in the Arctic

Unfortunately, most of us will never be fortunate enough to see them, simply because of the environment required for them to flourish in. Frost flowers are as beautiful as they are elusive to most of us.

There are different types of frost flowers, but the ones I am referring to in this section are the meadows of frost flowers that are found in the Arctic Regions, which provide the perfect environment for the forming of these ice structures in their purest form.

Frost flowers

Frost flowers are ice crystals that grow on newly formed sea ice. Without going into too much detail and making things too complicated, we still need to have a proper idea of how they are formed and develop.

Under calm conditions, a new ice layer is easily formed as the air over the open water is much colder than the underlying ice. The air directly above this newly formed ice contains high levels of water vapor and is also much warmer than the overlying layer of cold air.

If this difference in temperature between the moist warm air on the ice surface and the colder overlying air is 15 degrees or more, condensation will take place where the two layers meet. 

The condensation will cause small ice crystals to form kernels on imperfections on the ice surface. If the conditions stay calm, more moisture will be deposited on the small kernels, allowing the frost flowers to grow.

In the right conditions, meadows of these frost flowers are formed, which is a very rare and beautiful sight. Most of us can only admire them in photos, but it's still nice to know there are so many extraordinary weather creations out there most us yet don't know about.

59) "Fog Tsunamis" - Nature's Sense Of Humour

Over the years, beachgoers and novice sailors across the world had the living daylights scared out of them by the freighting sight of a 10-story-high tsunami racing towards them. Imagine both the relief and feelings of sheepishness when they realized the "tsunami" was, in fact, nothing more than one of nature's clever illusions.

What they were seeing was actually a thick bank of fog that is formed when the weather conditions are ideal. Especially when these thick fog banks are running parallel to the shoreline, they can appear almost indistinguishable from the ocean, creating an intimidating sight for anyone "in its path."

When warm moist air blows over the cold ocean waters, condensation takes place, and fog is formed on the ocean's surface. If enough moisture is present and the resulting condensation continues to occur, it can build up an impressive bank of fog, often referred to as "fog tsunamis" due to their appearance.

They are completely harmless, and the only real danger they cause is limiting visibility to only a few meters in some cases. When these "fog tsunamis" coincide with onshore winds, the fog can be blown some distance inland and further limit visibility.

60) Asperitas Clouds - More Bark Than Bite

When you happen to look out your window one morning and see these alien-like dark clouds with round wavy bellies, relax. You didn't wake up on another planet, and earth is not about to be invaded.

Asperitas Clouds

In fact, Asperitas clouds are not even potentially dangerous storm clouds and often disappear without a single drop of rain falling. It is a very rare type of cloud and has mostly been spotted in The Great Planes in the United States, characterized by its wavy shape and round bellies underneath the cloud.

There is still much uncertainty as to how these clouds formations are formed, and no clear pattern has been established yet. (Asperitas clouds are a relatively recent discovery and the latest member of recognized cloud formations, acknowledged by the World Meteorological Organisation in 2015 at its 17th Congress.)

One thing all meteorologists agree on is that the atmosphere needs to be unstable for the unique wavy shape to form underneath the clouds.

As long as there are so many different theories and uncertainties surrounding the formation of Asperitas clouds, there is no point in wasting your time by discussing them all.

It is yet another example of a weather event that both puzzle and amaze us. If you get the rare opportunity to experience one, grab your camera or phone and start taking pictures.

61) Hailstones CAN Be Fatal And Kill You

In general, hail storms produce hailstones a few millimeters thick, not even big enough to cause any significant damage. Most of us see it more as a novelty and enjoy lawns and roads being covered with a layer of these icy white balls.

There are certain instances, however, where hailstones are much larger. So large, in fact, that significant damage is done to infrastructure, cars, and vegetation. And in some cases, even cause fatalities.

There are dozens of documented cases where multiple fatalities occurred, and hailstones the size of oranges were recorded. One of the worse cases, however, took place in Moradabad, Northern India, on 30 April 1888. At least 230 people were killed, and over 1600 of livestock perished. Unfortunately, no warning system existed at the time.

The important take-away here is never to underestimate a hailstorm and rather be safe and take cover underneath a structure with a solid covering.

62) The Hidden Dangers Of Black Ice

Motorists used to driving in icy conditions during winter times are probably already aware of this phenomenon, but to anyone unfamiliar with back ice, it can be quite dangerous and catch you off-guard. 

black ice

Black ice (also referred to as clear ice) is a very thin layer of transparent ice deposited on surfaces, especially road services. It makes the surface extremely slippery, and because it is transparent, motorists driving over this surface can easily be caught off-guard and lose complete control over their vehicle.

The extremely slippery surface makes vehicle wheels lose traction with the road, causing them so slide in any direction, often colliding with other vehicles or objects along the roadside. It can happen, even if you are already driving cautiously and at a slow speed.

Black ice forms when a slight drizzle falls on a surface that is already below freezing point (0° Celsius or 32° Fahrenheit), and it immediately turns into solid ice. The moisture from vehicles' exhausts can compound this effect, which also turns into ice. Because the layer of ice is so thin, remains almost completely transparent.

Even cyclists and pedestrians can fall prey to back ice, as it can be a treacherous surface for anyone crossing it.

63) Can Thunderstorms Damage Airplanes?

The short answer is potentially yes, but luckily very rarely and mostly with little effect.

In general, it is quite safe to fly in stormy weather. The first reason is that modern aircraft are designed according to strict specifications to handle extreme weather conditions. They are strengthened in the right areas and build to insulate passengers from the elements.

Wind shear, hailstones, and icing may cause some degree of damage if an aircraft is forced to fly through a thunderstorm (normally a high cumulonimbus cloud), but is normally too little to cause any concern.

A direct lightning strike travels through the outside metal surface of the aircraft and exit it with maybe some minor entry and exit burns at the most, but leaving passengers well insulated and leaving the aircraft unaffected.

The second reason why it is safe, it that modern aircraft travel at a height of around 30 000 feet (10 km). This not only because the air is thinner at such a height and fuel is saved, but also because most weather events take place below this height, essentially allowing the aircraft to fly above the weather.

Obviously, there is the rare occasion where cumulonimbus clouds reach high into the upper atmosphere, or severe weather conditions cause significant damage to an aircraft when forced to fly through it. This happens very seldom, though, and in most cases, planes will still survive the storm and make a safe landing.

64) Can Hurricane Sized Waves Sink A Large Ship?

During strong hurricanes, the high wind speeds can generate incredibility large waves with heights of up to 60 feet (18 meters) or more. This can be dangerous, even for the largest and heaviest of ships like oil tankers and cargo ships.

big waves and large ship

The continuous pounding by these heavy waves has the potential of causing structural damage and eventually break a ship apart. History has shown that large ships can and were indeed sunk by hurricane-strength waves.

Ironically enough, most harbors are the last place you want a large ship to be when a hurricane approaches. The ship will be repeatedly thrashed against the concrete docks, causing damage to both. Chances are the mooring lines may snap, turning the ship into a floating wrecking ball in the harbor.

When a hurricane is detected early enough, ships are often ordered to leave the harbor and sail out of the direct path of a storm.

In the worst-case scenario, a ship cannot get out of the way in time and need to face the storm directly. It needs to make sure it follows two important rules:

  1. Sea Room: It must be far enough away from other objects, including the coast, not to be blown into them or get stranded.
  2. Steering-way: It must have enough power to steer and move forward and not being pushed around by the waves. The bow (front) of the ship must always be pointing into the waves, as large waves hitting it from the side can actually cause a large ship to tip over and sink

Sometimes, an experienced crew and well-maintained ship are the most important factors that will determine a ship's survival in these horrific conditions.

65) Impact Of The Weather On A Country's Economy

When you think of seasonal changes in weather patterns, the agricultural sector is one of the first things that comes to mind, and with good reason. A healthy agricultural sector always contributes to a country's strong economy.

An abnormally long dry season can result in a complete loss of crops, while the drought will have an adverse effect on livestock. Similarly, a very wet season with extensive flooding will have an opposite effect, but with the same results.

This will not only severely inhibit a country's ability to feed its citizens, but also put further strain on the economy. The loss of income, normally received from the surplus of the produce used to be exported to foreign countries, puts additional pressure on the economy.

In fact, due to the shortage of produce normally grown and processed locally, many of it will now have to be imported at an additional cost.

National disasters like hurricanes and flooding due to abnormally high rainfall can also cause widespread damage to buildings, roads, and infrastructure in general. The cost of repairing the infrastructure of a region can run into billions of dollars.

(And this is not even taking into consideration the cost of the loss in productivity during this period.)

It should be very obvious by now that the weather does indeed have a very big influence on any country's economy. 

66) How Temperature & Rainfall Affects The Weathering Of Rocks

We think of rocks as hard, solid, and durable objects that are mostly unaffected by the usual wear-and-tear which most other objects, natural or man-made, are subjected to.

It may come as a surprise at how prone many rocks are to weathering (the process through which rocks are broken down into smaller pieces and eventually wither away).

Weather, especially heat and rain, is one of the main factors contributing to the weathering process. As not all rocks are created equally, some take much longer to weather and respond differently to the type of element it is exposed to.

weather and stones

We still use rock in modern times for a variety of purposes. From the inclusion in concrete mixes for all kinds of building projects to the construction of road surfaces.  It is even still being used as the primary building blocks for houses, walls, and roads in some countries.

It is, therefore, quite essential to understand how different rock types respond to the weather.

For example, in wet climates, rock is broken down much more quickly than in dry climates. Carbon-dioxide in soil mixes with air and water and forms a weak acid, which breaks down much more rapidly. Rocks like limestone are especially vulnerable to this type of wear.

Some rocks like sandstone react entirely differently, though. With quarts in it being more resilient to chemical breakdown, they are not so much affected by wet rainy weather.

In contrast, they break down much more rapidly in cold, dry conditions. The small cracks in the rock allow cold water in these cracks to freeze and expand. This leads to a fracturing of the rock into smaller pieces.

These are a few small examples of a much bigger topic, but it is interesting to note how weather even interacts with geology.

67) The Benefits Of Living In A Dry Climate

Places normally associated with a dry climate like deserts and semi-arid regions are normally seen as inhospitable with extremely high temperatures, making it an "extremely poor choice" when deciding on a place to call home.

First of all, not all deserts and areas with dry climates are warm. Some deserts actually have quite moderate temperatures, while others at higher altitudes are quite cold.

Secondly, vegetation may be a lot scarcer and different from that of regions with a humid climate, but dry regions have a different type of vegetation that has adapted to the arid conditions and have a unique beauty of their own.

Then there are the numerous benefits. In the previous section, I already touched on the fact that rain and humidity accelerate the breakdown of rock. But it's not just the deterioration of rocks. Humidity causes the accelerated breakdown of almost any material you can think of, whether man-made or natural.

It is no secret that motor vehicles in coastal regions are much more prone to rust compared to the vehicles in drier inland regions. (This is reflected in the resell value of vehicles, where adverts in classifieds will highlight the fact that a vehicle originated from a "non-coastal" region.) 

It is also no secret that humidity is no friend of electronics. The oxidation of some components and other forms of deterioration affects their reliability and shorten the life of many electronic devices. (With most appliances now having some form of electronic component, this is not good news for people in humid areas like the tropics or the coast.)

Lastly, there are the many health benefits that are too numerous to delve into. It includes the reduction and reduced risk of diseases like arthritis, asthma, and heart disease.

(The health benefits of increased exposure to sun include reduced stress, lower blood pressure and a multitude of benefits triggered by the production of vitamin D as a result of exposure to the sun.) 

And off-course, you get the added benefit of the unique beauty of these open landscapes accompanied by breathtaking sunsets.

68. Does The Moon Affect The Weather?

Many of us already know that the moon has an effect on our oceans, specifically our tides, and even more so when a full moon is present. Interestingly, it has some effect on the weather as well, but not nearly as much as on the ocean's tides.

The moon's gravity directly affects the part of the ocean closest to it by causing a slight "bulge" on the oceans' surface (as that part of the ocean is pulled up by the gravity of the moon.) This "bulge" then follows the movement of the moon, and this is how tides in the ocean are formed.

The moon's gravity also has and effect on the atmosphere above the ocean. As air contains weight, it is also subjected to the gravitational forces of the moon.

Because air and the gases in it, is so light and much less dense than water, the influence of the gravitational forces on the atmosphere is almost non-existent compared to the effect on water. As a result, it is completely dwarfed by many other factors. 

The moon also has a very small but notable effect on temperatures at the Poles. During a Full Moon, the temperatures at the Poles are 0.55° Celsius (0.99° Fahrenheit) warmer than during a New Moon.  

So yes, the moon does have some effect on the weather directly. Don't expect it to become front-page news on any newspaper or website anytime soon, though.

Important Weather Tips

69) What To Do When Caught Outside During A Lightning Storm

If you are caught outside, and a thunderstorm hits, get inside as quickly as possible. If you happen to be too far away from any form of shelter, find the lowest-lying area you possibly can, like a ditch or bottom of a valley

lightning strike

Stay away from any tall objects (that are prone to be hit and conduct lightning) and water (like dams and rivers).

Lastly, make yourself as small and low as possible by crouching down (like a baseball catcher's position or wicket-keeper in cricket), with only your heels touching the ground and your head between your knees.

Following these steps will significantly reduce your chances of getting hit by a lightning strike.

70) What To Do When A Tornado Strikes

Get Underground: The best place to stay safe is to hide in an underground shelter or the basement of your home. 

If you don't have an underground shelter, find the innermost room of your home, preferably also the lowest. The more obstacles, in the form of walls, you put between you and the tornado, the better.

If you are stuck outside, finding a low-lying area like a ditch might be your best option. Lay down and cover your head.

Stay Away From Windows And Outer Walls: The strength of the wind, even when a tornado is not directly hitting you, is more than strong enough to shatter glass, turning them into dangerous sharp projectiles which can seriously injure you.

Outer walls are unlikely to withstand the strength of a tornado, and instead of providing safety, will most likely be blown over or collapse on you, which can lead to serious injury or even cause fatalities.

When You Are On The Road: If possible, find the safety of a shelter as quickly as possible (the type already mentioned). If you are unable to do so in time or get out of the way of the storm quickly enough, get out of your car and find a ditch as far away from your car as possible. (The tornado may toss the car and blow it onto you.)

71) How To Protect Your House From Lightning

Lightning causes billions of dollars worth of property damage across the globe each year. Even more importantly, it can cause serious injury and even fatalities, either through direct electrification or as a result of fires that are started due to power surges.

The following four steps can be taken to significantly reduce the risk of damage and injury when lightning strikes:

  1. Using a home lightning protection system: Using a combination of lightning rods, surge protectors, grounding devices, main conductors, and bonds will help to insulate and protect you and your household appliances and equipment.
  2. Unplug all electronic devices: When a thunderstorm is imminent, make sure all electronic devices and appliances that use electronic circuitry are unplugged. 
  3. Installing transient voltage surge protectors: For devices that are plugged in when you are not home when lightning strikes, or devices that are critical to keep running at all times.
  4. Always check your insurance coverage: If you live in an area prone to lightning strikes, make sure you know exactly what you are covered for, and make the necessary adjustments and alterations.

Although you cannot completely protect yourself from lightning strikes, implementing these four guidelines will go a far way to protect your home.  

72) What Not To Do When A Tornado Strikes

Hide Underneath An Overpass When On The Road: This is a popular misconception that is still propagated and followed by many people. The last thing you should do if there is no alternative is to leave the relative safety of your car to shelter underneath an overpass.

tornado

Not only are you completely exposed underneath the overpass and more likely to be hit by dangerous flying debris, but the shape of an overpass causes the winds in a tornado to funnel underneath an overpass, strengthening it and causing much more turbulence as a result.

As already mentioned, if you can't find a solid structure to shelter in, rather find a ditch as far away from your car as possible to hide in, lie down, and cover your head. If none of these options are available, staying in your car and trying to ride it out is your safest bet.

Do Not leave The Safety Of Your House And To Try And Outrun A Tornado: If you are already in your house, stay there! Even if you don't have an underground shelter, the innermost room of your house is still far safer than being exposed out on the open road. 

You don't know which direction the tornado will go in or that you will be able to outpace it with your car. Getting stuck in traffic jam or hindered by fallen debris is also a big probability, leaving you exposed and in serious danger. 

73) What To Do During A Thunderstorm

Lightning can strike, even up to 16 km (10 miles) from the center of a thunderstorm, so care should be taken, even if it sounds relatively far away. As a rule of thumb, you can count to 30 between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder. If the time is less than 30 seconds, you are not out of danger. 

If you are inside your home or car when a thunderstorm hits, stay there and keep all windows and doors closed. If you are caught outside, stay away from and tall objects or trees, which are very prone to be hit by and conduct lighting.

Even when you are inside your home, avoid direct contact with water, electronic devices, telephones (landline), and even concrete walls. Lightning can travel through plumbing, electrical wiring, and even though the steel reinforcement inside concrete walls.

74) How To Predict The Weather Using Nature

Nature is much more sensitive to coming changes in weather than we might realize. It can often "sense" weather events hours, or even up to a day before we become aware of it. By paying attention to the little clues nature gives us, we will be able also to become aware of weather changes without even looking at a weather forecast.

For example, an increase in humidity very often precedes rainy weather. Nature reacts to it in a variety of ways. Pine cones close up, the leaves of maple trees start curling and, even the smell of flowers are much stronger than usual.

Insects and animals also leave many clues. Many of us are already familiar with the ant invasions into our homes preceding rainy weather, sometimes days in advance.

If you live in an area reach in birdlife, a sudden quieting down in bird activity is often an indicator of stormy weather on the way as they take shelter. 

There is a lot more to this subject, which I just briefly touched on. If you would like to know more, a whole article is dedicated to the hints and clues that will help you "forecast" your weather. You can read the article by following this link.

75) What To Do In A Heat Wave

The obvious and most important thing you can do is to stay hydrated. Whether you find yourself indoors or outside, always keep water with you, which you should drink regularly, even if you don't feel particularly thirsty. (Your body is dehydrating much quicker than you might realize.)

heat wave

As heat always rises, staying as close to the ground is always advisable. In extreme conditions, heading downstairs into a cool basement may be necessary.

When outside, try and avoid direct sunlight by staying in the shade and wearing cool protective clothing, especially the appropriate headgear.

Try and avoid additional sources of dehydration. This includes avoiding beverages like alcohol and caffeine (which leads to further dehydration) and taking off unnecessary warm clothing.

Apart from drinking, water can be used to keep you cool by taking a cool shower or bath, wiping yourself down with a wet towel, or even sitting with your feet and lower legs in a bucket or tub.

You can find more useful information about heatwaves in this article.

76) How To Survive Extreme Cold Weather Conditions

Those of us living in countries with more moderate climates will seldom, if ever, experience these extreme cold weather conditions. For many people living in countries close to the arctic circle, though, this is very much a stark reality, especially during winter times.

For countries like Canada, Russia, and many Scandinavian countries, this is just part of everyday life during winter seasons. Occasionally though, even they experience exceptional cold conditions that need special care.

Also, with Climate Change causing increased temperature fluctuations around the world, more countries previously not affected are experiencing these extremely cold conditions regularly. This means many people may now have to adjust to conditions they have not experienced before.

The first and most obvious thing to do is to keep your body warm by wearing warm clothes, specifically the type especially made for wearing in very cold conditions. It is also much easier and uses a lot less energy to stay warm in the first place than to try and warm your body up after getting too cold.

Stay indoors. If there is no real necessity to go out outside, don't risk it. Many people underestimate how quickly extreme weather can set in and affect your body.

Always stock up on sources of heat. This includes fuels to stay warm, especially in areas where severe weather may cause power outages. This includes traditional sources like gas and wood (many northern countries still rely on fireplaces to stay warm).

Make sure your home is properly insulated from the cold. If you live in an area often affected by extreme cold, make sure your home is properly sealed and use insulation materials to help keep the heat in and cold out.

Wear your clothing in loose layers. By wearing tight clothing, you are restricting blood-flow and inhibit the body's ability to stay warm. Layered clothing also allows pockets of warm air to be trapped in between these layers. This acts as an extra layer of insulation against the cold.

Be aware of the dangers and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite. If you were directly exposed to extreme cold for an extended period of time, you might not even be aware that you are suffering from any of these conditions. Inform yourself about these conditions and follow the advice from people experienced with extreme cold and what to be aware of.

Avoid Sweating And Stay Dry. Dressing too warmly or heating a room too much can cause you to perspire, which is never a good idea. Moisture on your skin will inevitably turn cold when you are away from a source of heat, which can severely impact your body's temperature.  

These are just a few examples. There is a lot more you can do, so make sure you are properly informed and educated when you are heading to a location you know will experience these extreme cold conditions.

77) Using Clouds To Tell Future Weather Events

Although clouds are normally observed and associated with the weather conditions we are experiencing at the time, they have a lot more to offer. Keeping an eye on clouds some distance away can also give you a pretty good indication of future weather events.

You can actually tell a lot by paying attention to a cloud's color, shape, and height. This will help you to make a rough "forecast" about what the weather will do in the coming hours.

dark clouds

Clouds are made up of thousands or millions of microdroplets. The more moisture a cloud contains, the darker the color. It should come as no surprise, then, that the clouds we normally associate with stormy, rainy weather are usually very dark in color.

The much lighter, almost feathery like clouds, on the other hand, normally contains very little moisture and are normally an indication of clear and pleasant weather conditions.

The actual height of clouds also tells us something about the coming weather events. Clouds with their bases high in the air (cirrus, cirrocumulus, and cirrostratus) are generally not associated with rain, whereas low-lying clouds are more commonly associated with rainfall.

Finally, the shape of clouds is yet another potential indicator of future weather conditions. Clouds like cumulonimbus have a very low base, but also a huge vertical buildup. Huge vertical development in cloud formations is often associated with stormy weather.

The thin and streaky appearance of clouds with very little vertical development (like cirrus and cirrostratus clouds) more often than not points to pleasant weather conditions.   

78) Steps To Take Against Monsoon Dangers 

Visitors to India will be exposed to a wealth of sites and sounds of this colorful and diverse nation. Extreme care should be taken, though, when visiting during the Monsoon Season. (You can find out more about what monsoon is what the dangers are in this article.)

During A Monsoon: The amount of heavy rain that can fall in a short period of time very often leads to flash flooding. Stay away from low-lying areas, especially areas near streams, rivers, and dams.

Even structures in these areas can become unstable due to the force of the water. Avoid these structures, as they may not withstand the amount of water and collapse on you.

The hillsides and mountainous areas can become very prone to mudslides and rockfalls during heavy rains. Keep your distance from these mountainous areas and avoid roads winding through hillsides during and directly after a monsoon.

After A Monsoon: The most dangerous part of a monsoon though, is not the rain or flash flooding, but the waterborne diseases that form in standing water, which can stay in certain areas for days or weeks following a flash flood.

Many of these diseases can be fatal if not treated quickly. Taking the appropriate vaccination against diseases like Typhoid and Cholera is very important, as well as taking subscribed malaria pills before your visit.

Not all these treatments are 100% foolproof, and some waterborne diseases like Viral Fever and Dengue have no preventative medication. The best way to limit exposure to these diseases is by taking a few safety precautions following a monsoon:

  1. Avoid bathing in or coming in direct contact with contaminated water (e.g. streams and dams)
  2. Avoid contact with infected bodily secretions.
  3. Don't Eat Potentially Contaminated Food (e.g. food from the street and open-air markets) 
  4. Protect yourself against insect bites, especially mosquitoes (use insect repellent & mosquito nets)
  5. Avoid drinking contaminated water

These are just a few general guidelines to use, but follow your general practitioner's advice and immediately pay attention to and report any symptoms of the disease.

79) Do Not Be Fooled By A Hurricane's Downgraded Strength 

With modern weather technology, meteorologists are able to identify and track hurricanes while it still over the ocean, quite a few days before it makes landfall.

During this period, strong hurricanes often get downgraded to a lower-strength category, creating a false impression among people in the path of the storm that the danger is lessening or disappearing. The result is that many people get caught in a hurricane with potentially deadly results, which they could have avoided by getting out of the way in time.

hurricane

The strength of a hurricane is mostly an indication of the wind speeds present in the eye-wall with Category 5 being the strongest (157 mph or stronger wind speeds) and Category 1 being the weakest (74-95 mph wind speeds).

Although wind speed is a significant indicator of the strength of a hurricane, you should always remember that it is the rainfall and resulting flooding that is by far the most significant danger that a hurricane poses.

And it is the size, the speed at which the actual hurricane is traveling, and the amount of moisture it carries that determine the rainfall and flooding. (Not the wind speeds within the hurricane itself.)

Never look at the downgrade of a hurricane's strength to determine its potential danger. Heed all official warnings and get out of its path when told to.

80) What To Do When Weather Changes While On A Boat

If you own or operate a boat, at some point, you will encounter bad weather. Whether on a lake or the ocean, if you are not a seasoned sailor, you will need to learn how to deal with bad weather and rough waters. (Preferably sooner rather than later).

As I am not going to try and pretend I know anything about boating or anything remotely related to it. Having said that, I feel this post will not be complete if I don't at least do the proper research and provide you with the best information I can find.

I found the following guidelines to be the best summary of actions to follow when confronted with bad weather while operating a boat. This guide also corresponds exactly with one supported by Transport Canada, so it is well worth paying attention to.

When encountering stormy weather while on water:

  1. Slow your craft down, but maintain enough power to keep your heading and course. 
  2. Store away loose and unused gear.
  3. Close all openings (windows, hatches, doors) to prevent flooding of the craft.
  4. Keep your boat's bilges free of water. Also, be prepared to scoop/pump water entering bilges out if necessary.
  5. Keep visibility at an optimum by using navigation lights and your radar (if you are in possession of one), while signaling your position using a foghorn.
  6. When lightning is present, stay away from all metal objects and disconnect all electronic equipment.

Please know that these few guidelines are just scraping the surface of sailing in bad weather. If you are going to operate a boat, make sure you are fully qualified to do so and are fully informed and prepared before you venture out into open waters.

Home Weather Station Tips And Information

81) Always Consider Height When Placing Your Home Indoor Weather Station

The air in your home reacts very much in the same way as the air outside in the earth's atmosphere. This means the colder (and heavier) air is located closest to the floor, while the warmest (and lightest) air is located at the ceiling or the highest point in the room.

(This is why your attic is always the hottest location in your house and the cellar the coldest.)

The best possible height to place your weather station is about halfway between the floor and ceiling. Luckily and conveniently, this is normally more or less at eye level when seated, which makes it a very practical location.

82) Choose Your Room Where Your Indoor Weather Console Will Be Placed Very Carefully

There are certain rooms that are completely off-limits when it comes to indoor weather station placements. Time to expose the biggest culprits:

The Bathroom: Something you will find in every bathroom is a shower or bath (or both). Even taking a lukewarm shower will cause a dramatic increase in humidity and temperature. Even using the washing basin or flushing the toilet has a bigger effect on humidity than you think.

So you can imagine the dramatic effect it will have on a weather station's readings. This room is a very big no-no.

indoor kitchen

The Kitchen: Like the bathroom, the kitchen is also a source of artificial influences on the air, especially the air temperature. Your stove, microwave, and even your fridge generate a significant amount of heat.

Heated food from the stove and microwave also generate enough steam to significantly change the humidity. These factors make the kitchen just as unsuitable for weather station placement.

Rooms Receiving Direct Sunlight: Many houses are built in such a way to make the most use of sunlight. (In the Northern Hemisphere, you will find many rooms facing south to receive more sunlight, and in the Southern Hemisphere, many rooms are facing north for the same reason).

Although this helps to keep these specific rooms warm during winter times, it creates a much higher temperature than that of the outside air or the rest of the house. Preferably, these rooms should be avoided. At the very least, place the weather station as far away from the window as possible and out of direct sunlight.

83) Always Place Your Outside Sensor Array High Enough From The Ground Surface

A very important factor for determining the accuracy of your outdoor sensors array's readings is your unit's actual physical height above the ground.

The first reason for this is to get an accurate humidity reading. Especially when placed in the back garden or any area that contains plants, grass, or even bodies of water, the accuracy of the hygrometer may be severely influenced. The amount of humidity that plants and bodies of water add to the atmosphere must never be underestimated.

Another variable that can also be influenced by the surface below the sensors is the temperature. Whether the sensor unit is installed on the ground or on a roof, the surface of each still absorbs and reflects/radiates a lot of the heat from the sun back into the surrounding atmosphere.

As a result, when the sensors are placed too close to the surface below it, the accuracy of the thermometer will not be able to give an accurate reading. (The reflected/radiated heat from the surface below will add to the atmospheric temperature that is picked up by the thermometer.)

Luckily you don't have to get completely despondent here, as the solution to this problem is not that hard. You just need to ensure that your sensor array is approximately 6 feet above the surface below. This height is sufficient to make the influence of any surrounding objects and surfaces negligible.

84) The Amount Of Weather Sensors Do NOT Determine  The Quality Of Your Home Weather Station

Many modern-day home weather stations come with so many weather sensors attached to their outdoor sensor array that it can actually be a bit overwhelming.

Is this a good thing? Well, I would say the answer is yes and no.

As already mentioned in other articles on this website, there are really three critical variables necessary to be measured and recorded:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Air (Barometric) Pressure

These three measurements are used extensively by most advanced weather stations to establish weather patterns and calculate forecasts.

There are a few other variables, however, that play an important role in establishing and recording weather patterns. Recording weather elements like rainfall, wind speed, and direction helps you establish specific patterns and associate certain weather conditions with these patterns.

As important as all these sensors are, it is the accuracy and consistency with which your weather sensors are able to take measurements that matter the most. This is literally a case of quality over quantity.

85) Do NOT Rely Solely On Your Personal Weather Station's Forecasts For All Your Local Weather Information

Personal weather stations provide users with weather information specific to their location. They provide owners of large areas of land, like farmers and plantation owners, with invaluable rainfall and thermal readings to help them monitor & plan a variety of activities.

Using a home weather station in isolation, however, will be a very big mistake. Although it provides you with the most accurate and up-to-date data of your specific location's weather conditions, it can't match the capabilities of a professional weather service.

weather forecast

The first and biggest advantage of a professional weather service is its access to the vast array of weather sensors. From satellite & radar images, weather balloons to remote weather stations, they have access to detailed data of approaching & changing weather conditions up to thousands of miles away.

By tracking and analyzing this wealth of information, they are able to make very accurate forecasts of weather conditions in your location 5-7 days in advance. Variables that your home weather station's sensors will only be able to pick up a day before your weather conditions are affected.

86) Avoid Using The Default Settings When Installing An Advanced Home Weather Station

When it comes to advanced home weather stations, it is critical that you set up your device correctly. This means NOT leaving it in its default setting.

Most advanced weather stations actually need you to set it up correctly for your specific location to enable it to make the correct calculations, display the right information, and make accurate weather forecasts.

My Ambient Weather WS-2902A Osprey Weather Station for example, required me to set the correct date, time, and time zone. I also had to customize the barometric pressure to that of my specific location, and the setup even made me specify whether I am located in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere.

And unlike you might be thinking right now, it was actually a very easy and quick process with the easy-to-follow instruction guide. Most modern-day systems make it very easy for you to set up and customize your personal weather system.

Weather, especially air movement, reacts differently in the Southern and Northern Hemisphere. Barometric pressure also varies from one location to another. Setting the correct time zone also helps to calculate a variety of these parameters.

87) Never Blindly Follow The Claimed "Maximum Wireless Distance" Between Your Indoor Base Station & Outdoor Sensors.

It is really no secret that many manufacturers use the maximum distance able to be obtained between an indoor base station and the outdoor weather sensors as a selling point for their products. There is a very important fact they don't tell you straight away and is often added as an afterthought though.

Base Unit And Sensor

The maximum wireless range between the display console and outdoor sensor array (normally around 300 feet or 100 meters), is measured under the "ideal" circumstances.

This means the two devices have a direct line of sight with each, with no obstructions between them, and the measurements are taken under ideal weather conditions. Unfortunately, these ideal conditions very seldom exist in the real world.

More often than not, there are at least a few walls, roofs, or other obstructions between the two devices, which will limit the distance the signal can travel. The materials any obstruction consists of also have a large impact on the distance a signal can travel. (For example, a glass window will have very little effect on signal strength, while a metal construction will almost completely block a signal.)

88) Be Careful Where You Place Your Indoor Display Console

There are basically three main reasons for the importance of correctly placing your indoor weather station for optimal readings.

By having your indoor device closely resemble outside weather trends, you get a better and more complete picture of all weather conditions (both inside and outside), as well as a global overview of how these atmospheric conditions compare and interact with each other.

If you own a starter weather station, you may not even have the luxury of an outdoor weather sensor. In this case, it is absolutely critical to choose the right location, as the indoor weather station will rely solely on its own built-in sensor to take measurements and make forecasts.

When you have a weather station that displays both indoor and outdoor weather conditions, it is very impractical and very confusing to have two completely different trending weather conditions displayed right next to each other. (This can happen very easily in rooms like bathrooms or kitchens, where variables like humidity and temperature fluctuate often and extensively, creating very inaccurate measurements.)

I cover indoor weather placement (as well as the artificial sources that influence their ability to take accurate readings) extensively in this article. If you need more detailed information, feel free to go and have a look.

89) Place Your Sensor Array Far Enough Away From A Large Solid Structure

The whole point of placing your weather sensors outside is to expose it to all the weather elements without any form of interference. These elements include temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind speed & direction, as well as rainfall.

Rain Shadow

So if you place your sensors right against the sidewall of a building or underneath a big tree, what are you actually doing?

The first thing a wall will do is obstruct or completely block the movement of air. So there goes your anemometer's ability to measure wind speed and your wind vane's ability to accurately measure wind direction.

Depending on the location of the wall in relation to the sun, its surface will either be directly exposed to the sun or shielded from it for a large part of the day. This simply means there is no way for a thermometer affixed next to the wall to get an accurate temperature reading.

90) Don't Place Your Weather Station Close To A Body Of Water, Or Right In The Middle Of Some Lush Green Bushes

You need your sensor array's hygrometer to measure the humidity in the air without any type of outside (or artificial interference). Placing your sensor next to a body of water or in between lush green bushes is the worst possible thing you can do to achieve this.

Due to the amount of moisture evaporating from the water's surface and the moisture released by the leaves from plants & bushes, the humidity in the surrounding air is much higher than the actual humidity present in the air in your location.

You can learn all about your weather station's sensor array placement in this article

Climate Facts

91) What Is Climate Change?

climate change

Climate change in itself is not an abnormal or dangerous occurrence. Over the last few million years, the earth went through numerous periods of Global Warming and Ice Ages. This happened over hundreds of thousands of years, though, giving all life on the planet to adapt and evolve.

The Climate Change everyone is debating over the last few decades is man-made and a vastly accelerated change in global and regional climate patterns, attributed mainly to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere produced by fossil fuels.

92) Yes, Climate Change Is Real

I don't make this statement lightly and are fully aware that the most experienced climatologist nor I will be able to tell what is going to happen next or how quickly it will happen.

One thing all scientists do agree on, however, is that this man-made accelerated climate change is very real. We already see clear evidence of this in the increase of extreme weather and geographical events on a yearly basis.

93) The Vital Role Of Climate In Soil Formation

The difference between cold, dry deserts (like the Gobi Desert in Tibet), and the lush green forests of Central America (like the Amazon Forest) would seem to be obvious. Apart from the difference in climate and vegetation, you might have missed another big difference: The composition of the soil.

And the composition of the soil is largely dependent on the climate of a region. Soil is able to develop much faster in hot and moist climates than in cold and dry climates.

Soil Development

Rain is by far the biggest contributor to soil development. It allows dead organisms to decompose much faster and form part of the soil. Tree roots, bacteria, and animal burrows also "eat away" and cause the larger soil particles to break up into smaller ones. 

The absence of rain in arid deserts is the biggest reason for the lack of dark, fertile soil that is so abundant in the wet rainforests. 

In contrast, here, the rock is weathered down by heat and wind into the coarse sand that is so synonymous with deserts around the world.

This means a rainy climate is not just necessary for providing vegetation the moisture necessary to grow and survive, but also for the formation of fertile soil necessary for plants, trees, grass, and other flora to grow in.

94) Climate Affects Agriculture And The Fishing Industry

We can all be in agreement that every country depends on a successful agricultural sector and sustainable fisheries. Whether each country produces a 100% of consumption requirements or import enough import from a neighboring country to make up for a deficit, the success and sustainability of these sectors are essential for human and animal survival.  

Climate plays a critical part and directly influences both the agricultural sector and the fishing industry. Changes in temperature, rainfall, wind, and other atmospheric conditions each play a role in influencing both these industries.

For example, under ideal circumstances (with enough moisture, sufficient nutrients, and the availability of water), a climate with higher average temperatures and increased CO(carbon dioxide) levels can be very beneficial and increase crop yields.  

Similarly, higher temperatures over the ocean will warm up the seawater, which can cause a shift in the natural habitat of certain fish in shellfish. This can disrupt the whole ecosystem and can have a potentially devastating effect on fish populations.

Needless to say, there are many more factors involved in this process. It is a complex and delicate balancing act between the climate and all living organisms influenced by it.

95) The Important Relationship Between Climate And Vegetation

This is actually a very long, complicated topic to discuss, but it is still important enough to at least get a mention in this post.

In short, vegetation is influenced by climate, and in return, the climate is influenced by vegetation. The two have, in fact, a very dynamic and interdependent relationship. The following paragraphs will put things into perspective.

Oceans cover two-thirds of the planet's surface. Just have a look at the flow of currents and temperature in a specific part of the ocean. Then compare that to the average atmospheric conditions prevailing over the same area. It will quickly become evident how one influences the other.

rain forest

This is not just limited to oceans, though. The rainforests of Central Africa and South America are also examples of vegetation influencing the climate. Often called the "lungs of the planet," they absorb carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming) while releasing oxygen at the same time. It plays a huge role in stabilizing the climate.

Climate has just as strong an influence on vegetation. The subzero temperatures in the Arctic Regions make the growth and survival of vegetation impossible. Likewise, the extremely high temperatures and dry air over the deserts of Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula also renders the existence of any vegetation impossible.

This is an important subject and will be covered in a separate article but needed to be mentioned here, simply due to its relevance and importance.

96) Climate And Geography

A connection between geography and its influence on climate has been made as far back as Ancient Greek times when Pythagoras contemplated the idea, which was later expanded on by Aristotle.

Over the course of time, we established that there are four main geographical factors that influence the climate in a significant way.

Latitude: Temperatures are normally the warmest at the tropics and start dropping the further you move away from them.

Bodies Of Water: The water in oceans and lakes don't heat up that quickly and also do not cool down fast at well. This has an effect on areas surrounding oceans and lakes, moderating the temperature and create fewer extremities and fluctuations in the climate.

Topography: The physical terrain covering a specific area can play a huge role in how the climate behaves in that area. Valleys, hills, a smooth or rocky terrain, and canyons - all play a part in determining the local climate.

Elevation: It is well-known that temperature decreases as altitude increases. Although a multitude of other factors influences climate in any specific area, a region located at a much higher altitude than one situated at sea level will display a clear difference in atmospheric condition based on the difference in altitude alone.

97) Climate Change And Heat

The biggest noticeable result of climate change is the rise in global temperatures. We are experiencing more hot days than cold days on an increasingly frequent basis across the globe.

warm sun

Across the United States, record daily high temperatures were double the amount of record daily low temperatures during the course of the last decade. 

This global tendency can have a snowball effect, as increased temperatures can lead to drought, which in turn can lead to even warmer temperatures.

The increase in heat can lead to a variety of threats, too numerous to explain in detail. Some of the areas that will be affected include health, energy demands, and agriculture.

98) Climate Change And Rainfall

Apart from many other weather phenomena showing evidence of climate change, the increase in rainfall and flooding has been particularly noticeable in many countries.

It is not that hard to make the connection. Around 60% of global rainfall comes from the world's oceans, while 40% is "recovered" from the continents.

As the planet is getting hotter and we experience warmer days, an increase in evaporation of water occurs. Combined with the warmer air's capacity to hold much more water vapor, it leads to the increase in precipitation and flooding we are experiencing.

99) Climate Does Have An Effect On Life Expectancy

In regions around the world normally experiencing very cold climates, a clear correlation between early deaths and colder climates has been shown. In the United States alone, the number of deaths as a result of cold weather is around 27 940 (1.3%).

elderly woman

As I already pointed out in other articles, cold weather causes the body to spend a lot more energy in an attempt to stay warm. (Shivering from the cold is nothing more than rapid muscle contractions initiated by the body's immune system to warm the body up.)

People with a weak or compromised immune system, like the elderly, may not be able to produce and maintain this type of energy to maintain body temperatures during extremely cold conditions. This may cause the body's immune system to shut down and can be fatal.

100) Climate Is Not Weather

They may be observing the same weather variable like temperature, rainfall, air pressure, and humidity. But at their core, climate and weather differ in some fundamental ways.

In a nutshell, climate refers to average atmospheric conditions, as well as changes in the state of the earth's atmosphere, measured over a period of at least thirty years or more. 

This includes global changes in temperature, the flow of our oceans' currents, and rainfall, to mention a few variables.

Weather measures all these atmospheric changes in real-time and over a short period of time, and use existing and historical data to make weather forecast a few days in advance.

This means climate measures weather conditions over months/years and determine long-term weather tendencies, while the weather does it over a short period of time.

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

101 Never Stop Learning

We live in fascinating times, where the climate is changing almost as fast as the technology that drives our weather systems.

There will always be some new or better weather station coming out, new ways of predicting weather will be developed. Even our whole understanding of weather systems and how to interpret it may be challenged, and we may be forced to adapt.

Don't be scared of these changes that may come, in whichever form. Embrace it and learn to adapt to it. As I said, we live in exciting times.

Conclusion

I seriously doubt whether you were able to read through this rather "lengthy post." If you did, I take my hat off to you.

The whole idea of this 101 Weather Information article was to let you skim through the different sections and topics. I tried to include a little bit of everything for you. From useful hints and tips, valuable information, to just some very rare and unknown facts about our planet's wonderful and unpredictable weather.

Maybe you found something that piqued your interest. Maybe you just enjoyed learning something new. Or maybe you stumbled across an answer to a question you have been asking yourself for ages.

Whatever the case, I just hope you found these 101 tips and information interesting and helpful. You can keep on using this post for future reference when looking to explore new ideas, or simply just to pass the time.

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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Freezing Rain vs Sleet: Understanding The Differences Between The Two

Freezing Rain Vs Sleet

They are both occurrences of water rapidly cooling down, but that is where much of the similarities between freezing rain and sleet end.

If you live in a region where temperatures frequently drop to below freezing point, you are probably already quite familiar with the terms "freezing rain" and "sleet."

Unfortunately, these two weather phenomena often get mentioned during weather forecasts and meteorological discussions, without a proper explanation of the meaning of each event. This can lead to confusion and make it hard to distinguish between the two.

The Difference Between Freezing Rain And Sleet

As will be illustrated throughout this article, there are several similarities, but also some clear differences between freezing rain and ice. Before delving into a more in-depth discussion, one first needs to establish the core differences between the two events are:

What Is The Difference Between Freezing Rain And Sleet?

The Difference Between Freezing Rain And Sleet

Freezing rain does not travel far enough through a layer of cold air to freeze, while sleet travels a longer distance through the freezing layer, which allows it to turn into solid ice.

As a result, freezing rain reaches the ground in liquid form and turns into ice on contact while sleet falls on the surface as solid pellets of ice.

Although both freezing rain and sleet fall through a layer of air with sub-zero temperatures, it is clear that they have very different characteristics, with each one also having a contrasting impact on their surroundings.

The most significant visual difference is that freezing rain falls on the ground in liquid form while sleet reaches the surface as ice pellets. A common misconception is that sleet as a form of ice will pose the most significant danger, but it is not that simple. 

The best way to understand the similarities and differences between these two meteorological phenomena is to take a closer look at each one.

Freezing Rain: What It Is And How It Forms

Although sleet has already been briefly defined earlier on, it is important to clearly and concisely state what it is before looking at how it forms:

What Is Freezing Rain

Freezing rain occurs when raindrops travel through a layer of freezing air too shallow to turn it into ice. Instead, it turns the precipitation into supercooled (cooled to below freezing) waterdrops, which instantly freeze when coming into contact with any object on the ground surface.

It is this last characteristic of freezing rain that makes it especially dangerous for humans, as will be explained in more detail shortly. The attributes of this phenomenon can largely be attributed to the way in which it forms.

How Freezing Rain Form

Freezing rain is often closely associated with the arrival of a warm front, which creates the ideal conditions for the formation of this occurrence. This is especially evident when this front moves into a region that already experiences subzero temperatures.

  1. 1
    Warm air aloft that accompanies a warm front, in combination with a layer of subfreezing air (air with temperatures below freezing) near the ground, forms the critical components for freezing rain.
  2. 2
    During cold winter months, precipitation often occurs as snow or other solid forms in regions experiencing freezing temperatures.
  3. 3
    As snow travels through the warm air, it melts and turns into raindrops.
  4. 4
    As it continues to fall, the raindrops encounter the subfreezing air near the ground, which cools it down rapidly. 
  5. 5
    However, the layer of cold air is too shallow to allow for the formation of ice, and the rain continues to the surface as supercooled waterdrops.
  6. 6
    As it reaches the ground, the raindrops instantly turn solid as it covers the surface it comes into contact with with a layer of ice.

It is this last step in the formation of freezing rain that makes it so dangerous to human activity in affected areas. As it comes into come into contact with a surface, freezing rain covers it with a layer of ice that is almost invisible to the naked eye.

The layer of ice is extremely slippery, which makes any movement over it very hazardous. On icy roads, it can lead to vehicles losing control and causing potentially fatal accidents. On sidewalks, pedestrians are at danger of slipping and serious injury. 

Sleet: What It Is And How It Forms

Before shifting the attention to the steps involved in the formation of sleet, the following summary will help to understand how sleet differs from freezing rain.

What Is Sleet

Sleet occurs when raindrops travel through a deep enough layer of freezing air to allow it to form ice. As a result, the frozen precipitation reaches the ground in the form of ice pellets.

Sleet follows the same process that is responsible for the formation of freezing rain, with one exception. The only notable difference between the formation of freezing rain and sleet is the depth of the layer of cold (subfreezing) air it has to travel through.

If the layer is too shallow, freezing rain occurs. A deeper layer, however, allows raindrops to travel further, leading to the formation of ice (sleet).

How Sleet Forms

The following steps will illustrate just how similar the process of forming sleet is to the one responsible for the creation of freezing rain:

  1. 1
    Warm air aloft that accompanies a warm front, in combination with a layer of subfreezing air (air with temperatures below freezing) near the ground, forms the critical components for freezing rain.
  2. 2
    During cold winter months, precipitation often occurs as snow or other solid forms in regions experiencing freezing temperatures.
  3. 3
    As snow travels through the warm air, it melts and turns into raindrops.
  4. 4
    As it continues to fall, the raindrops encounter the subfreezing air near the ground, which cools it down rapidly. 
  5. 5
    The layer of cold air is deep enough to allow the raindrops to travel further and freeze again. 
  6. 6
    As a result, the precipitation reaches the ground in the form of ice pellets, better known as sleet.

From these steps, it is clear to see how both freezing rain and sleet follow the exact same path up until point five. It is the depth of the layer of subfreezing air that allows raindrops to travel far enough to form ice pellets (sleet). 

Like freezing rain, sleet is responsible for creating dangerous conditions on roads, sidewalks, and other surfaces it accumulates. Fallen sleet is already quite hazardous, but as it starts to melt and mixes with snow, it becomes very slippery and potentially deadly.

Conclusion

Freezing rain and sleet are two weather phenomena that have several similarities, but also some core differences that set them apart. This post clearly highlighted these differences.

The article also illustrated how a simple variable, such as the depth of the layer of subfreezing air, completely change the characteristics of precipitation and result in two completely different weather occurrences.

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

List Of The Most Dangerous Weather Conditions On Earth

What Is The Most Dangerous Type Of Weather

Several different weather events can lay claim to the title of "Deadliest Weather Phenomenon". We list the most dangerous weather conditions on Earth.

As the previous paragraph stated, several weather phenomena can be regarded as the deadliest or most dangerous. This raises the questions as to what the most dangerous weather phenomenon in the world is. The answer is not that straightforward.

Determining the most deadly weather phenomenon on the planet mostly depends on time and scale. And depending on which criteria gets used, the outcome may vary dramatically.

For example, some atmospheric occurrences (e.g., hurricanes) are hundreds of miles in diameter and last for several days. Others (e.g., tornadoes) are less than a mile wide with a lifespan fewer than 15 minutes.

As a result, there is more than one atmospheric condition that can claim the title of the deadliest weather phenomenon. This post demonstrates how it depends on the lens through which you view each occurrence and what factors you use to measure its impact.

The Most Deadly Weather Phenomenon

As the introduction eluded to, there is no clearcut answer as to which meteorological occurrence can be regarded as the deadliest or most dangerous. Each one has to be viewed in the context of time and scale.

With this said, the following weather phenomena are arguably the most deadly weather occurrences as defined by their size, duration, and severity:

What Is The Most Deadly Weather Phenomenon On Earth?

List Of The Most Dangerous Weather Conditions On Earth

In terms of immediate danger, destruction, and threat to lives, tornadoes are considered the most deadly weather phenomena.

In terms of total fatalities measured over time, drought and flooding are by far the most deadly and devastating.

Although it is accurate and concise, one needs to properly unpack this summary to gain a thorough understanding of how and why these weather occurrences have such an impact on the environment and human lives. 

As already mentioned, no one phenomenon can claim the title as the deadliest regardless of context. Depending on the scale, duration, and intensity of the occurrence, several weather conditions qualify as the most dangerous and destructive.

Dangerous weather conditions vary from occurrences a few feet to hundreds of miles in diameter and lasting from less than an hour to longer than a week. 

The following list provides a clear and detailed explanation of the deadliest weather phenomena on the planet and the circumstances under which they occur.

List Of The Most Dangerous Weather Conditions

The weather phenomena in the following list are not all independent weather systems. Some are part of a larger storm system, some are the direct or indirect result of another weather occurrence, while others are completely self-contained weather systems.

Although they do not appear in any definitive order of importance, the atmospheric conditions that are generally accepted to be the most dangerous and destructive, receive priority at the top of this list:

Deadly Weather Collage
  1. Tornadoes
  2. Tropical Cyclones (Hurricanes, Cyclones, Typhoons)
  3. Lightning
  4. Extreme Heat
  5.  Droughts And Flooding
  6. Hail

Each of these weather conditions proofs uniquely dangerous when we take a closer look at each phenomenon and view it within the context that they occur:

1) Tornadoes

They are not the biggest in size, nor the most longlasting, but tornadoes are by far the deadliest and most destructive weather phenomenon that occurs over a small area in a relatively short period.

Most Dangerous Weather Conditions On Earth

They are not independent storms and are usually produced by massive thunderstorms called supercells. (The latter is commonly found in the Great Plains of the United States where cold and warm air masses meet to develop these large-scale storm systems.)

The deadliest tornado in recent history occurred in Bangladesh in 1989 and resulted in approximately 1300 deaths.

What Makes A Tornado Dangerous

  1. 1
    A tornado can appear with very little or no warning, which leaves a very limited time to seek shelter. (The average tornado warning time is about 13 minutes.)
  2. 2
    Although it only lasts for approximately 10 minutes or less, the amount of energy released by a tornado during this period is unmatched by any other storm system.
  3. 3
    Wind, the primary force of this storm, can easily exceed 480 km/h (300 mph) in a tornado. This is powerful enough to flatten most structures in its path.

These factors combine to contribute to the devastation of structures and loss of life that occur over a short period of time. You can find more in-depth information about tornadoes in this article

2) Tropical Cyclones (Hurricanes, Cyclones, Typhoons)

Moving up in scale and duration, few things come close to the destructive power of a tropical cyclone. With an average size of 200 miles in diameter and lasting for approximately six days, hurricanes are by far the deadliest and most destructive force on this scale.

("Tropical Cyclone" is the umbrella term used to describe hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones. These storms are basically identical, with the only difference being the location where they occur, as well as their direction of rotation.)

Hurricanes and typhoons start as a small tropical depression over the warm waters of the Tropics. Over time it grows into a tropical storm, which eventually turns into a hurricane or typhoon under the right conditions.

The deadliest hurricane in recent history is Hurricane Mitch, which resulted in 11 374 deaths in 1998. It occurred in Central America in the regions of Honduras and Nicaragua.

What Makes A Tropical Cyclone Dangerous

  1. 1
    The most dangerous aspect of a tropical cyclone is the large-scale flooding that occurs as a direct result of heavy downpours. It is the leading cause of fatalities during and after a hurricane.
  2. 2
    The strong winds that accompany the storm systems can reach sustained speeds of over 260 km/h (161 mph). This enables them to cause damage in the outer bands, but are especially destructive in the storm's eyewall. 
  3. 3
    The sheer size of a cyclone results in widespread damage over an extensive area. Large regions get subjected to constant heavy rains and strong winds, which often leads to individuals being trapped in place and unable to get out of harm's way.
  4. 4
    The "eye of the storm" is a unique feature of hurricanes that makes them especially dangerous. It is a deceptively calm, cloudless area in the center of the storm that creates a false sense of security and causes residents to leave their shelters.
  5. 5
    Damage and fatalities as a result of a hurricane sometimes only materialize days (in some cases weeks) after the actual storm already passed. For example, water from high-lying regions can take days to reach valleys and cause widespread flooding.

Tropical cyclones are complex storm systems that require a complete and separate article to grasp a better understanding of how it functions. You can find more in-depth information about tropical cyclones/hurricanes in this article

3) Lightning

They may not cause as many fatalities and damage as tornadoes and hurricanes, but lightning is uniquely dangerous. It's unpredictability, and the power with which they hit makes a lighting strike deadly to humans and animals.

Lightning

It is hard to get a precise number, but lightning is responsible for roughly 24 000 annual fatalities worldwide. In the United States, a relatively "underwhelming" number of 51 yearly deaths get reported. 

These figures may create the impression that lightning is less deadly than it really is, which will be a wrong and very dangerous assumption.

The worst incidents of lightning damage & deaths are caused by secondary events. One of the deadliest lightning strikes in history occurred when a church in Brescia, Italy, was struck in 1769. It ignited 90 tonnes of gunpowder, killing 3 000 people and destroying half the city. 

What Makes Lightning Dangerous

  1. 1
    Lightning is essentially a massive electrical discharge, able to generate up to 100 million volts. As a result, even if a human or animal suffer an indirect lightning strike, it is still more than powerful enough to kill or cause severe injuries.
  2. 2
    Lightning bolds also reaches extremely high temperatures of up to 27 700° Celsius (50 000° Fahrenheit.) This can lead to serious burn injuries & fatalities but is also responsible for starting deadly fires in urban and rural areas.
  3. 3
    The unpredictability and speed with which a lightning strike occurs make it especially dangerous. Although thunderstorms are predicted with a fair amount of accuracy, an actual lightning strike occurs without warning within milliseconds.
  4. 4
    Lightning strikes are not confined to thunderstorms. They also form part hurricanes, occur during volcanic eruptions, and are even produced during large forest fires.

For lightning to occur, the right atmospheric conditions need to be in place, which justifies a more elaborate explanation that falls outside the scope of this article. You can find more in-depth information about lightning in this article

4) Extreme Heat

Surprisingly, one of the deadliest phenomena that go by almost entirely unnoticed right in front of our eyes is extreme heat. One of the reasons this silent killer occurs almost unnoticed is as a result of the time over which it occurs and the absence of warning signs.

"Heatwaves are responsible for more human deaths per year than any other weather event"

Extreme Heat

For example, the heatwave that struck Europe in 2003 resulted in around 70 000 deaths. In 2010, the Siberian Heatwave that lasted 44 days, caused 56 000 deaths in Russia. Finally, more than 600 people die each year in the United States alone due to heat-related illnesses.

Conditions are classified as a heatwave when unusually hot temperatures persist for two days or longer. These types of events are on the increase due to no small part in global warming. It is no surprise then that extreme heat and drought go hand-in-hand.

(Both are the result of extended periods of solar radiation, as well as the prolonged absence of cold and wet atmospheric conditions.) 

What Makes Extreme Heat Dangerous

  1. 1
    A heatwave doesn't occur suddenly, but build up over several days and can last for over a week. Its deadly impact slowly takes its toll on both human and animal health with fatal consequences.
  2. 2
    Extreme heat does not have an early warning system in place compared to those developed for dangerous weather occurrences like hurricanes, lightning, and tornadoes.
  3. 3
    The relative quiet and uneventfulness that accompanies a heatwave, combined with little awareness of the immediate danger, allow it to do most of its damage without much notice.
  4. 4
    As more people move to urban environments like cities and other metropolitan areas, the Urban Heat Island Effect contributes and exasperate the effect of an already rapidly-warming planet.

Extreme heat should not be viewed in isolation, as it is usually part of a more extensive system and closely linked to global climate trends. It usually takes the form of a heatwave, of which you can find more detailed information in this article.

5) Drought And Flooding

The leading cause of human fatalities, measured over an extended period and regardless of scale, is drought & flooding. Although neither are independent meteorological phenomena, they both occur as a result of the presence or absence of specific weather conditions.

Drought

For example, as a result of climate change, a rise in global temperatures combined with the extended absence of rainclouds are causing certain parts of the world to experience extreme droughts.

Similarly, the heavy rain that occurs during and after large storms like tropical cyclones and monsoons can lead to largescale & widespread flooding in valleys & other low-lying regions.

Of the two, drought is by the most deadly with food shortages causing entire countries and vast regions to experience severe famine. In 1922, China experienced the worst drought in recorded history, with a death toll of 3 million human lives. 

(This drought is closely followed in severity by the Bengal famine of 1943 which claimed 1.9 million lives in Bangladesh, as well as the twin droughts that struck India in 1965 and resulted in 1.5 million fatalities.)

Flooding is not as deadly as droughts in terms of total numbers, but are also responsible for a large number of deaths due to drowning and food shortages. China again fell victim in 1887 with the Yellow River Flood, resulting in an estimated 900 000 - 2 million deaths.  

What Makes Drought And Flooding Dangerous

  1. 1
    Since all life on the planet depends on water, drought affects everything. Famine, a direct consequence of drought, are one of the leading cause of death in developing countries. (Developed countries are not exempt from the effects of drought!)
  2. 2
    Flooding that occurs as a result of a hurricane, monsoon, or another large storm, do not necessarily take place at the same time or location as the original event. It can happen days later, at a much larger scale, and at a distant location.
  3. 3
    The strength of the volume of moving water during flooding is especially deadly. Not only does low water levels create a false sense of security, but its ability to weaken and destroy structures adds an additional layer of danger to human life.
  4. 4
    Drought also has a severe economic impact that can be more destructive than drowning or food shortage. Extended periods of drought can cripple entire economies and destroy the livelihood of people involved in the agriculture sector.

To illustrate the economic impact of drought mentioned in this last point, it is worth noting that in the United States alone, annual losses due to this phenomenon are approaching the 9 billion dollar mark. It is easy to see how this will result in serious financial hardship. 

6) Hail

Hail is not an independent weather system, but form part of thunderstorms where the updrafts in cumulonimbus clouds are responsible for the formation of hailstones. It is also a direct result of a thunderstorm, which makes it easier to calculate its immediate impact. 

Hail

As a result of its visually striking physical attributes and familiarity among the general public, the real danger that a hailstorm pose is generally slightly exaggerated. This does not mean that it poses no threat, but it is not as deadly as commonly perceived.

Exactly how deadly hail is, mostly depends on the size of hailstones. It can vary in size from as small as a pea to the size of a grapefruit. The bigger the size of the hailstone, the more deadly and destructive a hailstorm will be.

The average size of a hailstone varies from 2.5 - 4.4 cm (1 - 1.73 inches) in diameter. Once the size exceeds 2 cm (0.80 inches), it starts to cause notable damage. Hailstones the size of grapefruits (10 cm or 4 inches) are considered very dangerous and deadly.

However, it is important to note that hail the size of grapefruits or tennis balls occurs very rarely, and the vast majority of hailstorms are harmless.

The deadliest hailstorm in history occurred close to Moradabad, India. Hailstones reportedly reached the size of goose eggs (7 - 11 cm or 3 - 4.5 inches) and killed 246 people on 30 April 1988.

The largest hailstone ever documented was 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter. It fell in South Dakota, United States, in 2010. To put it in context, it was the size of a volleyball and just under 2 pounds in weight.

What Makes Hail Dangerous

  1. 1
    Apart from the size and frequency of hail, the speed with which hailstones fall can make them deadly. Wind speeds can increase the velocity of a hailstorm and turn otherwise harmless sized stones into lethal projectiles.
  2. 2
    The abruptness with which hailstones fall without any or little warning makes it hard to shelter in time. Although hail is associated with large thunderstorms, it is hard to pinpoint where and when it will take place.

Hailstorms are not independent weather phenomena but form part of large thunderstorm systems with strongly developed updrafts. You can learn more about hail in this article.

Conclusion

As this article clearly illustrated, there is no clear weather phenomenon that can be considered the most deadly. It all depends on the size, severity, and scale of the event.

For example, nothing can compare to the destructive power of a tornado on a relatively small scale and duration. Move up to several hundred miles in size and measured over days, the strength and danger of a large hurricane are unmatched.

This article highlighted the most deadly weather phenomena on the planet, as well as the circumstances under which they occur.

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

Understanding Weather Symbols Used In Forecasts To Know What To Expect From Future Atmospheric Conditions

Understanding Weather Symbols heading

Most of you have seen the familiar weather symbols used on television and online meteorological forecasts, our mobile weather applications, and even in traditional newspapers. Still, many of us don't always understand some of these symbols and the descriptions that accompany them.

And you know what? You are definitely not alone and have absolutely nothing to feel embarrassed about! In fact, a huge percentage of people regularly watching weather forecasts, are often confused by the different symbols and terminologies used by the various weather services. 

The goal of this article is to help you better understand the most widely used symbols in weather forecasts, as well as the information that normally accompanies them.  

To keep things as simple as possible, we will focus on the weather symbols, illustrations, and terminologies use specifically in weather forecasts. We focus on the symbols, elements, and graphs used in weather maps, which you find in this article.

Weather Forecasting Symbols

It only makes sense to start with the elements most widely associated with weather forecasts, which are off-course the weather symbols. Let's take a look at the most commonly used ones and what they mean.

As you will soon see, the same symbols can be displayed to describe different weather condition by various applications and services. This can be very confusing, so I attempt to the most important weather conditions associated with them.

Sunny Symbol

Sunny Conditions

The most well-known of all the weather symbols. This symbol, indicating sunny conditions and clear skies, is also pretty straightforward and rarely used in any other way than to display exactly these conditions.

Partly Cloudy Day Symbol

Partly Cloudy (Day)

The day will be mostly sunny with patches of cloud cover during the day. The cloud cover my grow larger or dissipate throughout the day, depending on future atmospheric conditions, or simply put, "the way the weather is headed in".

Partly Cloudy Night Symbol

Partly Cloudy (Night)

The night will be mostly clear with patches of cloud cover during the day. The cloud cover my grow larger or dissipate throughout the night, depending on future atmospheric conditions, or simply put, "the way the weather is headed in".

Cloudy Symbol

Cloudy

The day/night will be mostly overcast with no or very little clear skies visible. The light color of the symbol normally indicates that no rainfall is imminent (yet).

Overcast Symbol

Overcast

An indication that heavy cloud cover is expected throughout the day/night. This dark symbol is often an indication that rainfall may be possible, but not expected.

Cloudy With Light Rain Symbol

Cloudy With Light Showers

This symbol normally indicates cloudy conditions with light showers scattered throughout the day. These conditions may continue to persist, dissipate, or grow into heavier rainfall later on. 

Cloudy With Showers Symbol

Cloudy With Showers

Slightly heavier and more persistent showers are associated with this symbol. Normally these conditions also last longer and can be expected to last the duration of the day, depending on the season and type of weather system.

Cloudy With Heavy Showers Symbol

Cloudy With Heavy Showers

As the symbol and description indicate, heavy persistent showers can be expected. As with normal showers, its duration will largely depend on the season and type of weather system. 

Attention should be paid to additional information, like storm and flood warnings, as these conditions can occur during very heavy downpours.   

Partly Cloudy With Light Rain Symbol

Partly Cloudy With Light Showers  / Cloudy With Light Showers (Day)

These are one of the first symbols that can be very confusing, hence the dual description. Usually, it means the weather will be partly sunny, with some cloud cover & light showers to be expected. 

Some weather services are now using this symbol to indicate cloudy conditions with light rain, and use the sun to show that the conditions occur during the day. (In this instance no distinction is made between cloudy and partly cloudy weather.)

The best advice to follow when you see this symbol is to read the short forecast summary that usually accompanies any weather symbol.

Partly Cloudy With Light Rain Night Symbol

Partly Cloudy With Light Showers / Cloudy With Light Showers (Night)

Another symbol with a confusing dual personality. Usually, it indicates a partly clear night sky, with some cloud cover & light showers to be expected. 

Some weather services are now using this symbol to indicate cloudy conditions with light rain, and use the moon to show that the conditions occur during the night. (In this instance no distinction is made between cloudy and partly cloudy weather.)

Follow the same advice that was given in the previous section when you see this symbol.

Partly Cloudy With Rain Night Symbol

Partly Cloudy With Showers / Cloudy With Showers (Day)

And yet another symbol with a confusing dual personality. Usually, it means the weather will be partly sunny, with some cloud cover & showers to be expected. 

Some weather services are now using this symbol to indicate cloudy conditions with rain, and use the sun to show that the conditions occur during the day. (In this instance no distinction is made between cloudy and partly cloudy weather.)

Follow the same advice that was given in the previous section when you see this symbol.

Partly Cloudy With Rain Night Symbol

Partly Cloudy With Showers / Cloudy With Showers (Night)

Another symbol with a confusing dual personality. Usually, it indicates a partly clear night sky, with some cloud cover & showers to be expected.

Some weather services are now using this symbol to indicate cloudy conditions with rain, and use the moon to show that the conditions occur during the night. (In this instance no distinction is made between cloudy and partly cloudy weather.)

Follow the same advice that was given in the previous section when you see this symbol.

thunderstorm Symbol

Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms with strong winds, lightning, and heavy rain can be expected. These are one of the symbols that you should not ignore, simply due to the dangerous conditions that accompany a weather event. 

hail storm Symbol

Hail Storm

This symbol indicates a hail (water in its frozen form) storm. Hail is very often associated with thunderstorms due to the similar weather conditions that produce both. If you are interested, you can read more about hail in this article.

light snow fall Symbol

Light Snow Shower

A light shower of snow (a cluster of ice crystals) is expected to fall. In areas familiar with regular snowfall, this won't cause any concern.

If it takes place in a region that very seldom experience any snowfall, care should be taken to account for conditions that normally accompany snowfall, including a sudden drop in temperature and slippery conditions.

heavy snow fall Symbol

Heavy Snow Shower

A heavy shower of snow (a cluster of ice crystals) is expected to fall. Regardless of the location of familiarity, care should be taken to account for the potentially dangerous conditions that accompany heavy snowfall.

mist Symbol

Mist

Mist is nothing more than a high concentration of micro water droplets in the air near the surface of the ground. When mist is forecasted, this usually indicates damp conditions with variable degrees of low visibility. You should take this into account, especially when you plan on traveling. 

drizzle Symbol

Drizzle

When a drizzle is predicted, it usually means a very fine form of rain will occur. The water droplets can be very small, almost unnoticeable. It should not be ignored, however, as it is often very persistent, and can thoroughly drench you over time. 

sleet symbol

Sleet

When sleet is forecasted, it usually means a combination of rain and snow, and even small ice pellets are expected to fall.

The formation of sleet is a little more complex than you may think. For a complete explanation, you can read more its formation and characteristics in this article. (Simply search for "sleet" in the text.)  

tropical storm symbol

Tropical Storm

This symbol, predicting a tropical storm is not often used in a weather forecast. When you do see it, however, you better sit up and pay serious attention. A tropical storm is destructive enough on its own. (You can find in-depth information about tropical storms, hurricanes, and cyclones in this article.)

However, a tropical storm can quickly turn into a hurricane. I don't think I need to tell you just how devastatingly powerful and destructive a hurricane can be. If you are unsure, read the article I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Please Note 

All the weather forecasting symbols used in this post are just examples of what each symbol means in principle. 

Every weather service and application have their own version of each weather symbol which may look very different from the ones you have seen here. Some may be more elaborate and artistic with almost a photo-realistic look. Others may be extremely simplistic and in monochromatic color.

Some services and applications use symbols that have two drops or snowflakes to indicate light rain or snow, and multiple ones to indicate more severe versions of an event.

The point is, every service and application is different. Use the accompanying descriptions and your own discretion to interpret each symbol correctly.

The symbols used in this article should serve as a basic and accurate guideline to help you get a good overall understanding of the general meaning of the different weather forecasting icons and the weather conditions they represent.

The weather forecasting symbols used in this article, are an accurate reflection of the most commonly used icons in forecasting. 

A few minor symbols may be missing and, as already stated, there is a broad interpretation of these icons by different weather services and applications. 

Despite this fact, you are now much better equipped to correctly interpret and understand all the different shapes and sizes these symbols come in. 

Additional Forecast Information & Descriptions

The weather forecasting icons are the backbone of any weather forecast and help to quickly summarize future atmospheric conditions.

Often though, they are accompanied by additional information and a short text summary of the forecast to give you a better understanding of upcoming weather conditions.

Weather Forecast Example

Simple Example Of Weather Forecast With Additional Information

The forecast example above is just one of countless variations in the way weather predictions are displayed. I chose this specific one as it contains some of the most important supporting information needed to help you best understand how the weather will behave.

temperature symbol

Minimum/Maximum Temperature

Apart from the weather symbol itself, the maximum/minimum temperature is probably the best indicator of what future weather conditions will be like. It is also the part of the weather report most people pay attention to, as most of us would like to know how to dress and plan our day.

Therefore, temperature is clearly a vital part of getting an overall picture of the predicted atmospheric conditions. It normally measured in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius (depending on your country's system of measurement).

To find out more about temperature, how it is measured, and its influence on the weather, you can find all this information in this article.

rainfall symbol

Likelihood Of Precipitation In Percentages

Almost as important as the temperature, is the predicted likelihood of rainfall. Who of us does not want to know whether it is going to rain and what the chances of actual rainfall are?

Like temperature, your country's system of measurement will determine whether rainfall is measured in inches or millimeters.  

wind speed symbol

Wind Speed And Direction

Wind speed and direction indicators are not that widely used, especially by weather services aimed at providing forecasts for the general public.

It is no less important though, and an important measurement for both weather enthusiasts and professional meteorologists. 

text description symbol

Short Text Summary

An often overlooked but very valuable part of a compact weather forecast, is the text summary. You may understand some (or even all) of the symbols and additional information supplied with the weather symbol/icon. 

An accurate text summary, however, rounds off the forecast by putting all the information into words to make sure everything is correctly understood.

iPhone Weather Symbols And Their Meaning

Just like all other smartphones and tablets, the popular iPhone and iPad also make use of weather symbols and icons to display weather information.

Although their icons may look slightly different than other devices, they serve the same purpose, and one won't have any difficulty understanding the meaning of each symbol.

The following list showcases some of the most common iPhone weather icons: 

iphone weather symbols

The illustration above shows some of the commonly used iPhone weather symbols. Click on the image for a larger view.

Conclusion

If all the symbols and information displayed in a weather forecast didn't make sense to you before, you should now have a much clearer picture of what all the different elements mean and how to interpret them.

The primary goal of this article was to make sure you get a better understanding of the different weather forecasting symbols and elements to help you be better prepared for upcoming weather conditions.

The focus in this post was more on forecasting, and all elements associated with it. For this reason, I didn't pay much attention to the details of an actual weather map. I am addressing all the features, symbols and lines found in a weather map, in this article.

Feel free to leave me any comments, questions or suggestions, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

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