Interesting weather stories, myths, facts and pictures.

Can a Tornado Jump Over a House?

Tornadoes don’t hop, jump or skip. They can retreat back up into the clouds and spawn again sometime later. They can carve a path through a neighborhood that spares some houses and demolishes others, leaving the impression the tornado skipped houses. While it’s true a tornado can completely destroy one house and minimally damage another right next to it, the reason has nothing to do with jumping or skipping. It has to do with the internal structure (single or multiple vortex), varying intensity of a tornado and the path the…
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Cities Create Thunderstorms: Urban Heat Island

With today’s land starved metropolitan cities expanding further into their rural surroundings, a strange consequence had been documented: cities create thunderstorms, or at least assist in their genesis. It’s called the “urban heat island effect” and is based upon a simple concept. As a city increases in size, the amount of heat absorbed in the area from the sun also increases. Vegetation and trees, which cool the air through shade and evaporation are being replaced with tar roof tops, dark colored roads, and asphalt parking lots which absorb more energy….
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How Does Hail Form?

Colorado hail storm

Hail forms in thunderstorms where the updraft is strong enough to carry water droplets and ice condensing nuclei high into the atmosphere where they interact and freeze turning into ice. When the weight of the ice is too heavy for the updraft to keep it aloft, or when the hail escapes the updraft, it falls to the ground as a hailstone. Hail Formation The dynamics behind what creates the hail is somewhat complex. The basic ingredients are ice condensing nuclei, super cooled water droplets, latent heat, and powerful updrafts. In…
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Hurricane Wind Speed (Saffir-Simpson Scale)

Hurricanes are the most powerful storms on Earth in terms of size, energy released, and the scale of damage they can produced. The wind and the rain can be unrelenting, but the storm surge often times causes more damage. And if that’s not bad enough, hurricanes can even spawn tornadoes which makes some locations sustain far greater damage than the surrounding areas. The terms typhoon and hurricane mean the same thing, that is, they are both non-frontal synoptic scale low-pressure systems over tropical or sub-tropical waters with organized convection (i.e.;…
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Weather Records in the United States and Around the World

I always find extreme weather records fascinating because some of them will just blow you away. If you think the weather is miserable or crazy where you live, take a look at some other places around the world. I think you’ll find most of these records absolutely mid boggling. Temperatures Coldest temperature in USA: -80°F at Prospect Creek Camp in the Endicott Mountains of northern Alaska on Jan. 23, 1971 Hottest temperature in USA: 134°F in Death Valley, CA on July 10, 1913 Coldest Temperature in the World: -129°F in…
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Which Way Does Water Spin Down a Drain?

At some point, most of us have heard that water spins down a drain in different directions depending on which hemisphere we happen to be in. The fact is, the Coriolis force (an apparent force as a result of the Earth’s spin) has virtually nothing to do with which direction water spins as it empties down a drain. Although this force is “real” and does have an affect on other large, long-lived systems that travel great distances, water draining from toilets, sinks, and bathtubs are rendered virtually immune from its…
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What Causes the Different Seasons?

Even though the Earth does pass closer to the sun during part of its orbit, this is not what’s responsible for the hot summers and cold winters. If this were the case, then both the northern and southern hemispheres would have their summers and winters at the same time. However as you’ll see below, exactly the opposite is true. When it’s summer in the northern hemisphere, it’s winter in the southern hemisphere. The Earth rotates about its axis once per day, but the Earth’s axis is tilted, 23.5° from vertical…
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