Stiff wind? Gentle breeze?
The anemometer measures wind speed and force, and is the instrument
that will tell you if today's the day for blowing bubbles,
flying a kite or hiding in the basement.
What happens when excited electrons meet magnetic fields and
light? Near both of the Earth's poles, the answer is an aurora.
The aurora appears as beautiful undulating sheets of shimmering
lights in the sky. Near the North Pole, we call it the Aurora
Borealis, but near the South Pole it's known as Aurora Australis.
Basically, a barometer measures pressure in the atmosphere.
Knowing the atmospheric pressure and whether it's rising or
falling gives meteorologists valuable clues as to what the
weather will be like.
Forget your flurries and serene snowfalls, a blizzard
is a serious no-holds-barred storm. Blizzards are snowstorms
that pack winds of around 40 miles per hour, sub-freezing
temperatures and severely reduced visibility.
Picture this: You're enjoying a sizzling summer day, when,
all of a sudden, the sky turns black and it starts raining
cats and dogs. Then, afterwards, everyone stands around soaking
wet and wonders what the heck just happened. One word: cloudburst.
Have you ever noticed that sweating actually cools you
off? That's because the water on your skin evaporates and
lowers your temperature. Condensation is the exact opposite
of evaporation: Water vapors become so intense, they collect
to make actual drops or pools of water. If you've ever gone
camping, those dewdrops dampening your tent in the morning
Speaking of dewdrops
The little buggers are the water
droplets you sometimes see on the lawn if you're an early
riser. The dew point is the temperature to which the air must
be cooled for condensation to take place and dew to be formed.
We see dew in the morning, because as the temperature continues
to rise, the dew evaporates again into the air.
There are times we go without rain for a little while
then there are droughts. Droughts occur when an area experiences
a severe and potentially dangerous lack of rain for a long
period of time. No matter how boring rainy days may be, a
drought can cause major problems for local water supplies,
and plant and animal life.
You've probably heard a lot about this little guy recently.
In Spanish, El Niño means "the boy," but in weather
terms, it's an immense shift in ocean currents over a long
period of time that has a profound effect on global weather.
When El Niño starts kickin', weather all over the world
gets seriously wacky.
If you could rewind
condensation, you'd get evaporation. Every liquid will turn
into a gas at a certain temperature. This process of becoming
a gas is called evaporation.
If you've outgrown your pants, someone's bound to point
to them and yell "Where' the flood?" But a real flood occurs
when low-lying areas are overwhelmed by overflowing rivers
or other bodies of water. The idea of cruising down Main
Street in a boat may sound cool, but floods can actually
be very dangerous, causing serious damage and promoting
Despite what you might think, freezing rain doesn't
start out frozen at all. Instead, it falls as regular old
rain (very cold regular old rain) and freezes when it hits
the ground. So if the forecast calls for freezing rain,
watch where you walkotherwise you just might fall
on your butt.
These weather words have sparked a lot of debate in the
scientific community. When too much carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere combines with water vapor, the sun's heat gets
trapped close to the Earth. The more carbon dioxide there
is, the less heat escapes. Scientists are are divided about
whether or not this effect is causing global warming, which
has affected temperatures all over the world.
Along the East Coast of the United States, there's a strong,
fast-moving current in the ocean called the Gulf Stream. More
generally, the term includes a series of Northern Atlantic
Haze is a suspension of dust particles and smoke in the
atmosphere. You can't see haze, but you know it's there when
you have to work a little harder to seeand breathe!
You know how you feel kinda sluggish when it's hot outside?
And how when that humidity kicks in you sweat even when you're
standing still? Well, the heat index basically combines the
effects of heat and humidity and comes up with a figure to
let you know just how sticky and gross you're going to feel
while you're hanging out outside in the summer.
Aptly named, a heat wave occurs when hot, hot weather
moves in over a large region and bakes it in excruciatingly
high temperatures for an abnormally long time. When this happens,
we suggest spending as many hours as possible in the local
poolor standing in front of the air conditioner.
Here's an easy one: Humidity is the amount of water in
A hurricane is a massive spiral-shaped storm that packs
74 miles-per-hour winds or higherusually MUCH higher!
Hurricanes can dump billions of gallons of water and cause
major damage to beachfront property. In some parts of the
world, the same type of storm is known as a "typhoon."
Indian Summer is the name we give an unusually warm
autumn. There's only one rule: Indian Summer can only occur
after there has been a first frost. So you get all geared
up for fall and winter, and then, POW, it's like July again!
Think of the jet stream as a somewhat permanent band of
fast-moving air that circles the globe and moves from west
to east. It's caused by global temperature changes as cold
air moves toward the equator and warm air heads for the poles.
Both the northern and southern hemispheres have their own
Ozone is oxygen's close cousin, boasting three atoms of
oxygen instead of the normal two. The ozone layer exists miles
above the Earth's surface, and its purpose is to filter out
harmful ultraviolet light. When there's a hole in the ozone
layer, it's time to slap on some serious sunscreen.
The saturation point is the point at which the air is
holding the maximum amount of water it can hold for its current
temperature. Kinda like when you have to go to the bathroom
really, really badly.
We put this one on the list mostly because the name
sounds really cool. A supercell is just one big ol' nasty
thunderstorm. Really big. SUPER big
A thunderstorm's bark can be a lot worse than its bite.
It doesn't usually last long, but you'll hear a lot of thunder,
see a lot of lightning and feel some serious rain for a short
time. Sometimes, however, a thunderstorm can get really ugly
and throw things like hail and heavy rain at us and, in some
particularly nasty cases, it can even cause a tornado!
The tornado, or twister, is one of the most violent weather
phenomena on Earth. In a nutshell, it's a rotating column
of air that can completely wreck everything in its path. They're
probably pretty cool to watch, but only from a distance. A
big, big distance!
In humans, perspiration is how we get rid of excess water
in our bodies (you know, sweat!). In plants, the same idea
is called transpiration. The plants release water vapor, which
is then incorporated into the surrounding air.
This is one of nature's craziest creations! An underwater
earthquake can cause a massive tidal wave, or Tsunami. And
these are not the kind of waves you'd want to shoot the curl
on. These monsters have been known to mow down buildings like
houses of cards! If you see a Tsunami coming, do yourself
a favor: Head for the hills!
If you want to know whether to wear a sweater or a parka,
it's a pretty good idea to consider the wind chill before
you gear up. Wind chill lets you know what affect the wind
will have on how cold you feel. It may be 30 degrees outside,
but a wind chill could make it feel like -10!