Weather Myths & Facts

A bunch of weather myths and facts.

Wind Chill Index and Its Affects

Wind chill is a measure of how cold people and animals feel based on heat loss due to wind and evaporation. In cold and windy weather conditions, the skin loses heat through evaporation much more quickly than if the wind were not blowing. Therefore, it feels much cooler when it’s cold outside and the wind is blowing. The faster the wind blows, the greater the evaporation and thus, the greater the chilling affect. This is called windchill, “real feel”, or apparent temperature. There are a few misconceptions about wind chill….
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Tornadoes Never Hit Big Cities?

It is a myth that tornadoes never hit big cities. Pictured to the left is a tornado that ravaged downtown Miami Florida on May 12th, 1997. The fact is tornadoes have a long history of hitting big cities and when they do, they usually cause a great amount of damage due to the population density. As a matter of fact, tornadoes can form pretty much anywhere at any time, although they usually form in the Midwest during the the springtime. It’s a matter of population density, statistics and climate rather…
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Two Types of Lightning – Positive and Negative

Positive Lightning Strike

How exactly lightning forms is still open for debate, but scientists are certain there are two types of lightning: positive and negative. The most commonly accepted theory is that electrons are stripped off colliding ice particles caught in a thunderstorm’s updraft. Once these particles lose an electron, their net remaining charge becomes positive. These positively charged particles usually rise high into the upper-most part of the thunderstorm where they tend to collect. Conversely, other particles in the cloud acquire an electron after the collision and as a result, their net…
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Harnessing Lightning and Using the Electricity

lightning strike prairie

The idea of harnessing lightning and using the electricity to supplement our power grid is nothing new. The difficulty has always been knowing when and where lightning will strike, capturing it, then releasing the electricity onto the electrical grid. Even if all these issues could be addressed, would it still be worthwhile to try and harness the power of a thunderstorm? There’s no question thunderstorms generate a tremendous amount of electricity. A typical lightning bolt produces about 10,000 amps. Some bolts, such as the one that struck the Apollo spacecraft…
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Can Insects and Plants Predict Weather?

A lot of weather folk lore over the years has made claim that insects can predict the weather and that by observing the insects, we humans can make better decisions on how to dress, what crops to plant or whether to water the lawn or not. I have yet to read or see any evidence the confirms insects somehow have a better ability to forecast the weather than the local meteorologist on TV. Fact is, insects don’t predict weather. They simply react to its immediate changes. Take for example a…
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Do Mobile Homes and Trailer Parks Attract Tornadoes?

tornado trailer park

Many joke how mobile homes and trailer parks always seem to get hit by tornadoes. Some truly believe mobile homes attract tornadoes. The fact is, nothing attracts tornadoes. They form and move based on wind and other meteorological variables, not the type of home on the ground. The reason people may think tornadoes target mobile homes and trailer parks is that immense damage seems to occur when they strike these places. Mobile homes and trailers are not securely fastened to their foundations and are usually structurally weak in comparison to…
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Facts About Thunder

What causes thunder? Thunder is caused by the rapid expansion and contraction of the air surrounding a lighting bolt. On average, a lightning bolt is about 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun, or about 50,000°F! This causes the air to become super-heated and as a result, the air rapidly expands in fractions of a second. However, the air doesn’t stay super-heated for long and quickly dissipates the heat in fractions of second. It’s this rapid expansion and contraction of the air that creates a compression wave we…
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