Weather Myths & Facts

A bunch of weather myths and facts.

Do Surge Protectors Work Against Lightning Strikes?

Surge protectors are a common staple in just about every house that has a computer or expensive electrical equipment that needs protecting. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and power ratings, which claim to protect the equipment should a power surge occur. And while that may be the case for smaller variances in the electrical grid, will they really protect equipment from a lightning strike, the grand daddy of all electrical surges? The short answer is, no. Small appliances and equipment use small fuses, which when exposed to…
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Do Lightning Rods Attract Lightning?

Lightning rods have been around since Benjamin Franklin first discovered lightning was made of electricity, and logic would conclude that if one were to position a metal conductive rod at the highest point on a structure, a lightning bolt would strike it, direct the electricity into the ground, thus averting damage to the structure itself. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. As strange as this may sound, metal doesn’t attract lightning. Nothing does. Lightning can strike anything, conductive or non-conductive, and what it does strike isn’t always obvious. For example, the…
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What is a Heat Burst?

Many people that live in the mid-west are familiar with sudden changes in air temperature, usually associated with a passing cold front or the cool downburst of a thunderstorm. However, on rare occasions, the air temperature can rapidly increase due to a phenomenon called a heat burst. Within a matter of minutes the wind speeds can exceed 65 mph and the air temperature can increase by 20°F or more. As strange as that sounds, these events almost always occur late at night or in the very early morning hours. If…
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Are There More Tornadoes Due to Global Warming?

The recent outbreak of large and destructive tornadoes in the mid-west has a lot of folks speculating that perhaps global warming or climate change is the cause, but caution must be taken before making such correlations. Although the average number of tornadoes reported each year has in fact increased, this does not mean there are any more tornadoes now than in years past. That may sound contradictory, but a lot has changed in recent years that allows meteorologists to better detect and categorize tornadoes. In the last few years, there…
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What is Graupel? Little Balls of Snow? Soft Hail?

Have you ever seen little balls of snow falling from the sky and wondered what they were? They look like hail, but they aren’t. They also kind of look like snow, but again they aren’t. What exactly is this stuff? It’s called graupel, also referred to as snow pellets. These little balls of snow are composed of snowflakes and super-cooled water. Simply touching the graupel can cause it to melt and fall apart, unlike hail which is more durable, heavy and solid. In fact, if you pinch a graupel ball,…
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Weather Sayings and Folklore

Many of us have heard the various weather saying and folklore, but is there any truth to these phrases? When dogs eat grass, you can expect a severe storm. My dog eats grass in the winter, spring, summer and fall. It’s got nothing to do with the weather and more to due with how the dog feels. Typically, dogs eat grass when they are hungry or when their stomach is upset. They don’t suddenly get hungry for grass because a thunderstorm is coming. If a rooster crows at night, there…
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No Two Snowflakes Are Alike?

With all the trillions of snowflakes that are piled up in your driveway, coating the mountain tops, and plowed from the road, it’s probably true that no two snowflakes are alike. Proving this would be quite a feat, for obvious reasons, but you’ll as you read below, you’ll see why the old adage it probably true. Snowflakes are very sensitive to micro-environmental variables such as wind, temperature, humidity, air pressure, cloud condensing nuclei, and air particles. Add an element of chaos theory to the mix and you’ll see below that…
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