Category Archives: Meteorology

Do tornadoes occur over all parts of Earth?

The only continent that has not recorded a tornado is Antarctica. Otherwise, tornadoes can happen in just about any location.

North America, and specifically the United States, accounts for more than 75% of the world’s reported tornadoes. Other tornado-prone areas around the globe include western Canada, Argentina, the western Mediterranean, Japan, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather

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Why is May 6 such a special day in weather science history?

Immediately after World War II, it became fashionable to imagine technologies that might allow human beings to control the weather. In fact, one goal advanced by influential scientists was actually to explode nuclear bombs in the right locations and in the right quantity so as to alter the weather in favorable ways.

Such an enterprise would require accurate forecasts of the weather thought possible by using the brand new computer technology to make the millions of requisite calculations. Continue reading

Category: History, Meteorology

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How does hail get its shape?

Hail is precipitation in the form of balls or chunks of ice.

Hailstones begin as small ice particles that grow primarily by accretion; to grow large, they require abundant water droplets. As the hailstone moves up and down through a storm, it collides with water droplets and ice crystals, growing larger with each collision. Hailstones can be smaller than peas or as large as oranges and grapefruits. The small hailstones are roughly spherical in shape, while large ones can take on jagged shapes. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather

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Did the total solar eclipse impact the weather?

If you were in the path of the total solar eclipse last week, you may have observed a change in your environment. The more sunlight that was blocked, the more dramatic the changes.

A range of surface and near-surface meteorological observations can occur during a total solar eclipse. If it was a cloud-free day, or mostly cloudy day, you probably felt a drop in temperature. As the moon crossed in front of sun, it cast a shadow blocking solar energy from reaching your location. While it may have lasted only a few minutes, the reduction in solar radiation would result in a drop in temperature. In some locations, the temperature dropped by as much as 10 degrees. As the sun reappeared, the temperature increased. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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What are good weather apps for smart phones?

Good weather apps for smart phones provide easy access to current weather and forecasts. Many apps tell you about the high temperature for the day and can provide an hour-by-hour breakdown of temperatures, chance and type of precipitation, air quality and other weather information.

Your device likely comes with an installed weather app, but consider exploring other apps. Apps that include live weather radar and any severe weather alerts for your area are valuable. They are useful for identifying precipitation and storm location and movement. Many include lightning flash locaters, too. Apps with current weather radar data provide useful information when you need to be outside and precipitation is in the area. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Uncategorized

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