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YOUR COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE FOR UNDERSTANDING OKLAHOMA’S WEATHER

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Weather
IN THE OKLAHOMA CLASSROOM
A GUIDE FOR UNDERSTANDING YOUR WEATHER

Weather IN THE OKLAHOMA CLASSROOM

SECTION 1 GARY ENGLAND


4 Introduction to Basic
A recipient of
Weather Understanding numerous awards and
6 Layers of the Atmosphere honors including two
Emmys and the
7 Water Cycle Silver Circle Award
9 Basic Air Pressure by the National Academy of
Television Arts & Sciences, Heartland
Division, Gary England is Oklahoma's
SECTION 2 top rated television meteorologist.
Gary is a graduate of the University
12 Weather Patterns
of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of
13 Weather Variables Science degree in mathematics and
15 Precipitation meteorology. He is an internationally
recognized authority in severe weather
19 Seasons and holds the distinction of being the
person who implemented with
Enterprise Electronics, the world's
SECTION 3 first commercial Doppler radar. In
32 Why the Wind Blows 1981, Gary became the first person in
history to use Doppler radar for direct
33 High/Low Pressure warnings to the public. The author of
36 Air Density four books and the subject of another,
Gary is also a popular public speaker.
37 Tornadoes Besides appearing in the Steven
41 Hurricanes Spielberg movie, "TWISTER," he has
become a much sought after consultant
for weather specials produced by
SECTION 4 international channels from all areas of
48 Severe Weather Alerts the globe. Of special distinction in
2006 was his being asked to be a lead
49 Local Geography speaker for the dedication of the new
50 Safety Procedures National Weather Center in Norman,
OK. Additionally and in conjunction
52 Watches and Warnings with the Oklahoma Centennial
celebration in 2007, Gary was
immortalized by the sculpting of his
SECTION 5 bust which honored ‘100 Heroes and
54 Weather Terminology Outlaws' of Oklahoma
repute during the
54 Glossary state's first 100 years.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 3


INTRO TO WEATHER BASIC UNDERSTANDING

Intro to Basic Weather


Understanding
LAYERS OF THE ATMOSPHERE
WATER CYCLE
BASIC AIR PRESSURE
INTRO TO WEATHER BASIC UNDERSTANDING

Weather…The Basics
TO BEST UNDERSTAND HOW THE WEATHER
WORKS, YOU MUST FIRST UNDERSTAND
HOW THE ATMOSPHERE (THE THIN
LAYER OF AIR THAT SURROUNDS
OUR PLANET) IS STRUCTURED.
As we will see as we begin to
study weather more in detail,
the sun is the driving force
behind all of our weather. If the
sun were to go away suddenly,
we would not be able to live on
our planet and the weather as we
know it would cease.

Look over the diagram on the next


page and note how the atmospheric
temperature changes as you go up. Notice
that the atmosphere extends over 80 miles
up from the surface, but very little air is found
once you go up just a few miles up. The air
gradually thins out so much that eventually
you are in outer space, where there are no air
molecules.

Then look at the water cycle on the


following page. Notice how water
continually moves about in a cycle. Pick a
starting point and follow the “life” of a drop
of water as it moves through the air, clouds
and ground. Notice that this cycle is on-
going at all points, meaning there is always
some water in the air, always some water in
the clouds, always some water in the rivers
and oceans, etc.

Finally, read over the section on air pressure and


you’ll be set with the basics that you will need to
understand how much of the weather happens!

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 5


INTRO TO WEATHER BASIC UNDERSTANDING

Layers of the Atmosphere


MILES
84

78
THERMOSPHERE

SHUTTLES 72

66

60

MESOPAUSE 54

48
MESOSPHERE

42

36

30

STRATOPAUSE 24
STRATOSPHERE

18

12

TROPOPAUSE 6
TROPOSPHERE

-100 -80 -60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60

Temperature( °C) shown as a dotted line on the chart above

6 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


INTRO TO WEATHER BASIC UNDERSTANDING

The Water Cycle

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© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 7


INTRO TO WEATHER BASIC UNDERSTANDING

Layers of the Atmosphere


and the Water Cycle
REVIEW

1 In what layer of the atmosphere do the temperatures get the warmest? ______________________________________________

2 What layer of the atmosphere is closest to the ground? ___________________________________________________________________

3 As water evaporates from the surface and begins to lift up into cooler air, what process happens that
turns that moisture into clouds?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4 When water does not runoff into lakes and rivers, it soaks into the soil into what we call ____________water.

5 When the clouds grow in size, they produce _________________________ which brings moisture from the
air back down to the ground.

6 In the stratosphere there is a layer of ozone, a gas that absorbs incoming solar radiation.
This makes the temperature go up in the stratosphere. When you get to the mesosphere, what happens
to the temperatures as you go up in height?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7 In what layer does most weather occur? _______________________________________________________________________________________

8 Water that is given off by trees in the water cycle is known as ____________________________________________

9 In what part of the atmosphere do most meteors burn up? _______________________________________________________________

8 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


INTRO TO WEATHER BASIC UNDERSTANDING

Understanding Air Pressure


AIR PRESSURE IS THE WEIGHT OF AIR
ON AN OBJECT. That means you are
adding up all of the air molecules on top of
something. If you are standing on the beach
(at sea level) there is approximately 14.7 lbs.
of air sitting on top of every inch of your AIR BECOMES THINNER WITH HEIGHT
body. That means on top of your head there
is over 400 lbs. of air!

Size of your head* is approximately 30


square inches

Weight of air at sea level is 14.7 lbs per


square inch.

(30x 14.7 = 441 lbs on top of your head!)

Consider the clustering of air molecules


near the surface of the Earth. They are
pulled down by gravity. As you go up in the
atmosphere, the air is thinner and fewer
molecules are present.

* Average size of a child’s head at age 10.

REVIEW

1 If you are on top of a mountain, would the pressure of the air be heavier or lighter than on the beach? _____

2 Would you have more or less oxygen up in the mountains than on the beach? _____________________________________

3 What causes so much air to cluster near the ground? ______________________________________________________________________

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 9


WEATHER PATTERNS

Weather
Patterns
WEATHER VARIABLES
PRECIPITATION
SEASONS
WEATHER PATTERNS TEMPERATURE

What is Temperature?
TEMPERATURE IS THE WAY WE How Can You Measure Temperature?
MEASURE THE AMOUNT OF HEAT WE CAN
We use a thermometer to measure temperature. There are
FEEL. Actually, temperature is a measure of
several different types of thermometers. Some are made of
the speed of tiny particles in the air.
glass and mercury, others are digital, while others look like
Everything is made up of very tiny objects
a dial. How can all of these measure temperature? Well,
called molecules. These molecules move
everything reacts to temperature changes. When it gets hot
around. The hotter it is, the faster they move,
outside, your body can sense it. Also, when it gets hot,
and the higher the temperature. So,
metal expands. Mercury, a liquid metal, does this as well.
temperature is really just a measure of how
When it gets cold outside, your body can feel it, water can
fast these little molecules are moving
freeze, metal contracts and so does mercury.
around. The amazing thing is, temperature
not only is a measure of how fast molecules
So many different types of material
are moving, it also relates to how we feel.
can be used in a thermometer to
measure its reaction to
As the temperature gets colder and colder,
temperature. Since these
the molecules move slower and slower. In
different materials react to
theory, at some point the molecules stop
hot and cold air, we can
moving altogether. It cannot get any colder
measure the changes in
than this. This temperature is known as
them and figure out the
absolute zero. Although the word “zero” is
temperature! That is how
used, the temperature in Fahrenheit (F) is
a thermometer works.
-459°F and in Celsius is –273°C.

EXPERIMENT: (Note to teachers: although many filled-glass thermometers


are filled with mercury, we strongly recommend to not use mercury thermometers in
the classroom to ensure safety. Instead, do the experiment using alcohol-filled glass thermometers.)

1 Take an alcohol filled thermometer and look at where the level of alcohol is.

2 ...Now where is the level of alcohol?____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3 Where is the final level of alcohol?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Why did the alcohol move inside the tube? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What liquid other than alcohol would change its size because of the temperature?
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 11


WEATHER PATTERNS CLOUDS

What are Clouds?

YOU SEE THEM ALL OF THE


TIME—UP IN THE SKY.
Sometimes they are flat. Sometimes they are Types of clouds
puffy. Sometimes they are white. Sometimes they
are gray. Sometimes they are big and tall. They
are clouds. Clouds are made up of water droplets CUMULUS
or ice crystals. They appear to hang in the sky, but They are white, puffy clouds that are often flat on
they are actually just resting on the air below the bottom. They are usually found when the
them. weather is nice.

So what is a cloud, really? Well, first we have to STRATUS


know what is in the air. Air is made up of gases These are low, thick, flat, grayish clouds that
like nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Air is usually cover the whole sky. These clouds often
also made up of water. Not liquid water, but water are found on cool days and make it truly “cloudy.”
vapor. Water vapor is tiny drops of water
suspended in the air. We cannot see water vapor, NIMBUS
but the water is there. On humid days, there is These look much like stratus clouds, but nimbus
more water vapor in the air. On dry days, there is clouds have rain or snow falling from them.
not much water vapor in the air.
CIRRUS
When air is lifted, it cools. If the air cools down These are very high in the sky. They are thin and
enough the water vapor condenses and turns into white and sometimes the sun can shine right
water droplets. These droplets are bigger than the through them.
little pieces that make up vapor, so we can see
them. They appear to be white when the sun CUMULONIMBUS
shines on them. If a cloud is thick enough that This is a thunderstorm cloud. When a cumulus
enough water droplets block out the sun, the cloud begins to grow taller and taller, it starts to
cloud appears grayish. rain and sometimes hail, lightning, and tornadoes
can occur from cumulonimbus clouds.

12 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WEATHER PATTERNS CLOUDS

Identifying Clouds
Try to identify the following clouds by the definitions given on the previous page.
Write your answers below each picture.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 13


WEATHER PATTERNS EXPERIMENT MAKING A CLOUD

Making a Cloud
MA T ERI ALS DI R E CT I ON S
Tape the black paper to the outside of the jar so that it only
1 large, large-mouthed glass jar covers half of the jar. You should be able to look through one
side of the jar and see the black paper on the other side.
1 rubber band
(Make sure the paper does not touch the bottom of the jar)
1 piece of nylon (to cover jar mouth)
1 Put two cups of hot water into the jar.
2 cups of warm water
2 Make certain that the water is hot enough to make the
5 ice cubes air inside the jar very hot and humid.
1 piece of black paper
3 Place nylon over mouth of jar and secure with the rubber band.
Tape
4 Place ice cubes on top of the nylon and watch the cloud
develop right below the nylon inside the jar.
(You may need to peel back the nylon to let the
cloud “escape” to see better.)

Note: This experiment can also be done by covering the


jar with an aluminum pie plate in place of the nylon and
rubber band. In that form, you would place the ice on
top of the aluminum pie plate.

LESSON

What have you done?


The warm, humid air in the jar represents the warm water near the
earth’s surface. As it rises, the air around it cools (that is what the
ice on the nylon represents). As the warm, humid air is cooled
by the cold air above it, it forms a cloud in the jar!

14
WEATHER PATTERNS RAIN, SLEET, AND SNOW

The Sky is Falling!


WHENEVER A CLOUD IS FULL OF DROPLETS OR ICE CRYSTALS, THEY CAN
GROW TO BECOME TOO LARGE TO REMAIN IN THE CLOUD. They start growing
by sticking to a dust particle or a small piece of suspended material in the air. More
and more droplets or crystals stick to it until it is too heavy to remain in the cloud
and the droplet or collection of crystals begins to fall. This is called precipitation.

If the precipitation that falls is a large droplet (water), then it is called rain. Water
freezes at 0°C (32°F). So, if the air in the cloud is very cold, then a large collection
of ice crystals may form into a flake and fall as snow. There are several other types
of precipitation, as well. If a raindrop falls from a warm cloud through some very
cold air and it freezes, then it becomes sleet. Sleet is a raindrop that froze on the
way down to the ground and hits the ground in the form of an ice pellet. Another
type of precipitation is freezing rain. Freezing rain is a raindrop that is just about
to freeze on the fall to the ground. It looks like rain, but coats everything it hits in
ice. It can form an icy glaze on roads, cars, trees, etc.

REVIEW
Now that you know so much about rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow…see if you can
answer the following questions:
1 What season would you most likely find freezing rain, sleet and snow? ________________________________________________________

2 If a snowflake fell and melted on the way to the ground, what type of precipitation would it be?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3 What if that snowflake melted on the way down, but then re-froze just before hitting the ground.

What type of precipitation is that? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4 Can you have rain and snow falling at the same time? ___________________________________________________________________________________

BONUS Why or why not?_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 15


WEATHER PATTERNS EXPERIMENT MAKING A RAIN GA UGE

Making a Rain Gauge


Rain clouds are made of droplets of water so small that there are billions of them in a single cloud. How much
rain falls during a shower, or during a day, week, or month? You can find out by measuring it with a rain gauge.

M ATERIAL S D I REC T I ON S
1 straight-side clear plastic container
(curved sides would skew the rain totals)
1 Using the ruler and paper, make markings on the paper so
that it becomes a ruler. You can make it in whatever
scissors increments you wish. Divide it up by inch, and then in
quarters, and even smaller if you want to.
clear cellophane or
plastic sandwich bag 2 Once you have the ruler made, cut it out.

tape 3 Cover the ruler with clear cellophane, front and back. This
will protect it from the rain, and make it sturdy so that the
rainy days ruler can stand straight.
graph paper
4 Stand the ruler inside the container so that the ruler
plain paper rests on the bottom of the container. Tape it at the top, to
the inside of the jar, so that the ruler does not fall.
ruler
5 Place your rain gauge outside, and measure the amount of
rainfall that occurs each day. Place the rain gauge in a
place away from trees and buildings, as this may affect the
amounts. Also, you may wish to glue the jar to a block or
platform of wood, so that it does not tip over if it is windy.

RE C ORD RE S U LT S
Record the amount of rain you receive every time it rains on your graph paper and compare that to the amount
recorded at the nearest official rain gauge. (You may want to record the official rain total on the same graph
paper in a different color.) You can see some of the state’s official amounts on the website: (note that the daily
amount is updated a couple times per day, but the official amount is not recorded for that day until just after
midnight, so it may be best to compare the amounts on the next day)

Once on the website for “Weather in the Classroom,” (web link can be found on the front cover),
simply follow the links for “Daily Weather and Climate Data”.

16 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WEATHER PATTERNS SEASONS

Understanding Seasons
IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE SEASONS, YOU NEED TO FIRST UNDERSTAND HOW THE EARTH
REVOLVES AROUND THE SUN ONCE PER YEAR. Look at the picture below showing the Earth at different
positions in space during the year.

In this graphic, the thick, solid line


shows you where the north and
Sept. 22nd
south poles are. Notice that
the Earth is tilted, that is to
say that it does not have Jun. 21st
the North Pole at the
very top and the
South Pole at the Dec. 21st
very bottom.

The Earth revolves


around the sun once
each year. Near
December 21st, the
South Pole is facing
toward the sun and the
North Pole is facing away
from the sun. This gives the
Northern Hemisphere (where we Mar. 20th
live) shorter days and less direct
sunshine. This makes our weather colder and
we call this season WINTER.

Then the Earth moves so that the sun shines directly over the Equator by March 20th. The Equator is a line that
marks the halfway point between the North and South Poles. When the sun shines directly over this line, the
days and nights are nearly of equal length. The season changes at this point and we call it SPRING.

The Earth then moves around the sun so that the North Pole is facing the sun. The daylight becomes longer
for the Northern Hemisphere and the sunlight more direct. By June 21st, the sun is at its strongest for the
Northern Hemisphere and the temperatures warm up. We call this season SUMMER.

The Earth continues to revolve around the sun. By September 22nd, the sun is once again over the Equator.
The days and nights are again nearly equal length. The Northern Hemisphere is cooling down and we begin a
season called AUTUMN or FALL.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 17


WEATHER PATTERNS SEASONS

What to Expect in Oklahoma


Read the following descriptions of what to expect with each season in Oklahoma:

WINTER FALL
• Days are short, nights are long • Days and nights are equal length at
the beginning of Fall
• Sun is lower in the sky
• Days get gradually shorter through
• Sun is directly over the
the season
Southern Hemisphere
• Sun is directly over the Equator on
• Temperatures are colder
the first day of Fall
• Rain, ice or snow can fall
• Leaves begin to change colors and
• Temperatures change often fall from the trees

• Most trees have no leaves on them • Temperatures gradually cool down

• Strong winds can produce • Rain and thunderstorms


dangerously cold wind chills occassionally occur
• Temperature changes often
SPRING SUMMER
• Days and nights are equal length at • Days are long, nights are short
the beginning of Spring
• Sun is higher in the sky
• Days get gradually longer through • Sun is directly over the Northern
the season Hemisphere
• Sun is directly over the Equator on • Temperatures are hotter
the first day of Spring
• Plants grow all season
• Flowers bloom and trees produce
new leaves • Thunderstorms occasionally happen
during the afternoons and can
• Temperatures gradually warm up produce heavy rain
• Rain and thunderstorms are frequent • Temperatures do not change much
day to day
• Temperature changes often

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WEATHER PATTERNS QUESTIONS SEASONS

Questions about the Seasons


Use the previous pages on the seasons to answer the following questions:

1 What would the season be on April 20th? ___________________________________________________________________________________

2 On the first day of which season is the sun directly overhead the Northern Hemisphere? ____________________

3 In which season would you expect to see the most sleet? _____________________________________________________________

4 What season are the days the longest? ______________________________________________________________________________________

5 Complete the following picture by shading the side of Earth that would be dark. From this drawing,
figure out which season it is.

NORTH POLE

SOUTH POLE

What season is it in the picture above? ___________________________________________________________________________________________

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 19


WEATHER PATTERNS HUMIDITY

What is Humidity?
WATER IS PLENTIFUL ON
EARTH. It covers nearly two-
thirds of the surface of our planet.
But water is also commonly found in large quantities
in the air. You can see the effect of the suspended Keep in mind, since relative
water droplets in the atmosphere. Rainbows, clouds, humidity is dependent on
hazy skies, and even fog are all ways we can visibly temperature, you cannot compare
see the water droplets suspended in the air. However, humidity from one place to another
even when it seems as though we cannot see the or from one time to another unless the
water in the air, it is still there. Sometimes there is little temperatures are the same. For
water present and the air is dry. At other times there is example, 100% humidity at 45 degrees
a lot of water in the atmosphere and we say that it is actually has less water in the air than 75%
humid. These are ways to describe the humidity. humidity at 80 degrees. It may sound
confusing, but we have another way to
Humidity is often misunderstood. Relative humidity is help us compare humidities. Remember
different for every temperature. Why? Because relative that dew may form when the humidity is
humidity is a percentage showing how much water is 100% because the air cannot hold any
in the air compared to how much water the air could more water. So, if you can figure out when
hold at that temperature. So if the temperature dew will form, then you know how much
changes, so does the relative humidity. Warm air can water you have in the air. This is called the
suspend more water than cold air. So, if the amount of dew point temperature.
water doesn’t change, then the relative humidity
would go down when it gets warmer (because the air To find the dew point you need to take
could hold more at that temperature) and the relative the air you currently have and cool it
humidity would go up if gets colder (since the air down without losing any of the water in
cannot hold as much water when cold). If the relative the air. As you cool the air, the
humidity is 50%, then you are really saying that the air humidity will rise. When the humidity
has half of the amount of water it could hold at that rises to 100%, you have reached the
temperature. If the humidity is 100%, then the dew point. Now you can compare
atmosphere cannot hold any more water. At that point, dew points from one place to another as a good
fog may form or dew may form on surfaces. measure of the amount of moisture in the air.

INTERESTING NOTE: Sometimes people will exaggerate about the relative humidity. It is common for
people on a hot, humid summer day to say that the temperature and humidity are high. However some people
will say that it is 95 degrees and 100% humidity. This could never happen on Earth. That would make the dew
point 95 degrees, too, since the humidity is 100%. Dew points rarely go higher than 80, and we could not
physically handle dew points into the 90s on Earth for very long.

20 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WEATHER PATTERNS EXPERIMENT MEASURING HUMIDITY

Measuring Humidity
How you can measure the dew point.

MA T ERI ALS DIRECTIONS


a thin metal cup or a drinking glass 1 Outside on a warm, humid day in the spring or
(not thermal)
summer, put a couple of inches of warm (about 75°F)
thermometer water in a cup.

ice water 2 Measure the temperature of the water. Now add a few
drops of ice cold water to your cup.
a large dropper
(a measuring cup with a pour spout will do)
3 While you are adding water, keep stirring and
measuring the temperature of the water.
LESSON
4 Repeat this procedure by adding a small amount of
What happened? cold water to the cup until you see a thin film of water
form on the outside of the cup.
As you added colder water to the warm water in
the cup, the temperature of the water in the cup 5 Make a note of the temperature of the water as soon
kept dropping. The sides of the cup got colder as you see the water vapor form on the outside of the
as the water inside got colder. The cup also cup.
chilled the air right next to it! When the
temperature of the metal cup reached the dew The temperature you measured is the DEW POINT!
point... The air just next to the cup was cooled
to the dew point as well and water began to
condense from the air and stick to the cup!

REVIEW
1 What was the temperature of the water when you started your experiment?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2 What was the temperature of the water when you saw the condensation form on the outside of the cup?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3 Would your cup of water have to be colder or warmer to reach the dew point if the air outside is very dry?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 21


WEATHER PATTERNS EXPERIMENT DEMOSTRATING DEW AND FROST

Dew and Frost


Demonstrating Frost & Dew in the Classroom
Recall that dew forms when the humidity reaches 100% and the atmosphere can no longer hold any more
water. Some of the water is deposited on surfaces as dew. This happens when the temperatures are above
freezing. When the temperatures fall below freezing when the humidity hits 100%, something else forms.

Instead of droplets of water forming on the grass and on car windshields, we see ice crystals forming on
surfaces. This is called frost.

DIRECTIONS
MA T ERI ALS

2 metal cans 1 In one can, place several ice cubes.

rock salt 2 In a separate can place a mixture of ice cubes and rock salt.

ice cubes 3 Wait a few moments and notice what happened to the two cans.

thermometer
REVIEW
LESSON 1 Which of the cans had the frost form on the outside?
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What have you done?
The can with ice and salt will be colder. 2 Which of the cans had dew form?
The reason for this is saltwater has a _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
lower freezing point than pure water (the
same reason salt is applied to roadways
in winter). This lower freezing point 3 What was the temperature of the two cans?
allowed for more water to evaporate and _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
more evaporative cooling of the saltwater
in the can. Thus, the final temperature 4 What made one can colder than the other?
was colder of the saltwater can.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

NOTE: During the winter months, the air can become very dry (especially on cold days) and it may be difficult
to cool the cans down to the dew point temperature. On a very dry day, you may see only frost form on the
colder can, but no dew. If this is the case, wait and try again on day when the dew point is higher (more moisture
in the air). You can find the dew point temperature by following weather observations online.

22 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WEATHER PATTERNS EXPERIMENT RECORDING THE WEATHER

Recording the Weather

Use the “Recording the Weather” DATA CHART to fill in


the weather information for one week.
DIRECTIONS

1 Pick a city in Oklahoma and log on to the Weather in the Classroom website.
You can find the link for the website on the front cover of this booklet.

You will then be able to select “Current Weather” for the following areas of the state:

• Eastern Oklahoma • Oklahoma Panhandle


• Central and Western Oklahoma • Extreme Southeastern Oklahoma

2 Click on the city on the map you have chosen to see the current conditions.

3 Record the temperature, wind direction, wind speed, air pressure,


current weather type and relative humidity.

4 Do this at the beginning of the school day, the middle of the day and again at the end of the day.

5 Write down any interesting things that happened with the weather on the “Recording the Weather”
INFORMATION PAGE. Be sure to include big changes from sunny skies to cloudy skies or when
precipitation started to fall.

6 When you have finished recording the weather for the week, answer the questions on the
“Recording the Weather” QUESTION SHEET.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 23


WEATHER PATTERNS EXPERIMENT RECORDING THE WEATHER

Weather Data Chart


WIND RELATIVE SKY
TEMPERATURE WIND SPEED AIR PRESSURE
DIRECTION HUMIDITY CONDITION

Morning

MONDAY Midday

Afternoon

Morning

TUESDAY Midday

Afternoon

Morning

WEDNESDAY Midday

Afternoon

Morning

THURSDAY Midday

Afternoon

Morning

FRIDAY Midday

Afternoon

24 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WEATHER PATTERNS EXPERIMENT RECORDING THE WEATHER

Information Page
O BS ERV A T IO N S

MONDAY:
Were there clouds today? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Was there any precipitation? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

*Describe the weather for the day? ______________________________________________________________________________________________

TUESDAY:
Were there clouds today? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Was there any precipitation? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Describe the weather for the day? _______________________________________________________________________________________________

WEDNESDAY:
Were there clouds today? ________________________________________________________________________________

Was there any precipitation? _____________________________________________________________________________

Describe the weather for the day? _______________________________________________________________________________________________

THURSDAY:
Were there clouds today? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Was there any precipitation? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Describe the weather for the day? _______________________________________________________________________________________________

FRIDAY:
Were there clouds today? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Was there any precipitation? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Describe the weather for the day? _______________________________________________________________________________________________

* Weather might include partly cloudy, fog, rain, snow, sunny, windy, breezy, cold, warm, hot, etc.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 25


WEATHER PATTERNS QUESTIONS RECORDING THE WEATHER

Question Sheet
After recording weather conditions for the week, look over the weather data you
collected and answer the following questions:
1 What time of day did you notice the coolest temperatures?
a. Morning b. Midday c. Afternoon

2 What time of day did you notice the highest temperatures?


a. Morning b. Midday c. Afternoon

3 What time of day did you notice the lowest relative humidity?
a. Morning b. Midday c. Afternoon

4 What time of day did you notice the highest relative humidity?
a. Morning b. Midday c. Afternoon

5 If there was any precipitation during the week, what happened to the humidity during that time? Why do
you think the humidity changed the way that it did? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6 What was the strongest wind speed you recorded during the week? ___________________________________________________________________________
What was the weather during the time you recorded that wind speed?_______________________________________________________________________

7 Did you notice a pattern with the air pressure during the times you recorded it? Was it going up?
Was the air pressure dropping? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

8 Did a change of wind direction occur during the week? If so, what were the temperatures like the day
before the wind shifted? What about the day after the wind shifted? ___________________________________________________________________________

9 Did clouds affect the temperatures for the week? (Were sunny days warmer than cloudy days?
Were cloudy days warmer than sunny days?)__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10 What did you notice about the overall weather pattern for the week that lead to so many different types
of weather to occur? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

26 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WEATHER PATTERNS EXPERIMENT MAPPING THE WEATHER

Mapping the Weather


MA T ERI ALS DIRECTIONS
Use the “Mapping the Weather” AREA MAP to complete
Colored pencils the following activities:
(dark blue, light blue, yellow, orange, green)
1 Write the temperatures on the map above each city’s
name.

2 Draw temperature contours for 35, 40, 45, 50, and 55.
Use the following temperatures (Temperature contours are lines that connect equal
temperatures. You may need to ask an adult to help you
for your mapping: complete this step.)

TULSA: 53 3 Color the area below 35 in dark blue.

MCALESTER: 51 4 Color the area between 35-40 in light blue.


LAWTON: 36
5 Color the area between 40-45 in green.
WOODWARD: 39
6 Color the area between 45-50 in yellow.
GUYMON: 29
7 Color the area between 50-55 in orange.
MIAMI: 57
ARDMORE: 47 8 Color the area over 55 in red.

OKLAHOMA CITY: 46
DURANT: 54
STILLWATER: 47
PONCA CITY: 44
ALTUS: 32
IDABEL: 56

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 27


WEATHER PATTERNS EXPERIMENT MAPPING THE WEATHER

Mapping the Weather


Area Map

28 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


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WHY THE WIND BLOWS

Why the
Wind Blows
WEATHER VARIABLES
PRECIPITATION
SEASONS
WHY THE WIND BLOWS HIGH PRESSURE AND LOW PRESSURE

High Pressure & Low Pressure


HIGH PRESSURE
High pressure is seen on a weather map as a blue capital “H”. Since
the pressure is high, air needs to move away from a high pressure. Near
a high pressure, the winds are usually light and circulate clockwise away
from the high. Because air is leaving the high pressure area, air from above
comes down to replace the air that left. This sinking air keeps the skies mostly
clear and free from clouds that could develop into showers or thunderstorms. High
pressure is usually associated with nice weather.

LOW PRESSURE
Low pressure is seen on a weather map as a red capital “L”. Since the pressure is low, air needs to fill it in, so
it moves toward the low, but around it counterclockwise at the same time. Often the winds can be quite strong
around a low pressure. Because the air is piling up at the low, some of the air is forced up. This rising air often
becomes clouds and even produces rain. If the atmosphere is “unstable” then the rising air can become
thunderstorms. Low pressure is often associated with stormy weather.

In the picture below, the winds are shown around areas of high and low pressure at the surface.

L H

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 31


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WHY THE WIND BLOWS HIGH PRESSURE AND LOW PRESSURE

The Effect of Friction


FRICTION IS A FORCE THAT ACTS TO SLOW DOWN THE MOVEMENT OF AN OBJECT. Ice has a very low
amount of friction, so walking across it is very slick, but sandpaper has a high friction and you could get good
traction walking across sandpaper.

If there were no friction at the surface of a non-rotating Earth (no trees, no grass, no hills, etc) then the wind
would try to blow straight from high pressure to low pressure like this:

H L
But there since the Earth is constantly rotating, the wind “turns” as the world turns. This is known as the
Coriolis force. So, when you have high and low pressure with a rotating Earth, but no friction, then the wind
blows like this:

H L
But there is friction at the surface. Friction not only slows the speed of the wind, but it also changes the effect
of the spin of the Earth. This causes the winds to blow like this:

H L

34 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WHY THE WIND BLOWS EXPERIMENT MAKING A BAROMETER

Making a Barometer
Barometers are used to measure air pressure. Plastic wrap
Use the following directions to make your own Rubber band
barometer and measure changes in the air pressure.
Coffee can
MA T ERI ALS D I R E C T I O NS

Small coffee can 1 Take a small coffee can and


cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Looking down at the can:
Plastic wrap
Secure the plastic wrap with a
Rubber band rubber band around the can as
shown above.
Drinking straw
2 Tape a straw to the top of your Straw
Large index card plastic wrap cover with one end of
the straw in the middle of the can’s
cover and the other end slightly off Coffee can
LESSON the edge of the can. (see right)
Notice that when the air
pressure is high, it pushes 3 Next place the can beside a
down on the plastic wrap large index card. Use this card to
and the straw is tilted up. mark and label where the straw is
pointing on the card. Remember to Large index
When the air pressure is
write down the day and time beside card
low, the plastic wrap lifts
upward and the straw each mark you make. Notice the
points down. changes on the position of the
straw during each day of the week.

REVIEW
After recording your air pressure results for the week, answer the following questions:
1 What days had the highest pressure? ___________________________________________________________________________________________

2 What days had the lowest pressure? ____________________________________________________________________________________________

3 Why did the plastic wrap get pushed down by high pressure? __________________________________________________________

4 What interesting weather happened when the pressure was changing? ______________________________________________

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 35


WHY THE WIND BLOWS EXPERIMENT BALLOONS & AIR DENSITY

Balloons & Air Density


In this experiment, you will see how air density changes when the temperatures change. Density is a measure
of the amount of mass (or amount of molecules) in a given volume. More simply, it is how compact or how
thick a substance is. So what happens when air is heated and cooled? Does it become more or less
compact? Find out and see!

WARNING: In the following experiments, avoid getting the glass bottle too hot or too cold. Temperature extremes may cause
the bottle to break.

M ATERIALS DIRECTIONS

glass bottle Experiment 1


1 Fill a large bowl with ice cold water. Set aside.
balloon

large bowl 2 Fill the glass bottle with very warm to hot water.
This allows the bottle to get fairly warm, as well.
water
3 Empty the glass bottle and quickly cover the bottle’s
opening with a balloon. This traps in very warm air
inside the warm bottle.
LESSON
4 Now place the bottle upright in the bowl of cold
What did you learn? water. This will cool the air inside the bottle down.
In Experiment 1, the air inside the bottle was Observe what happens to the balloon.
cooled. When air is cooled, it contracts and the Write down your results.
density is higher (more compact). Since the air
was contracting, it sucked the balloon into the Experiment 2
bottle. 1 Fill a large bowl with very warm water. Set aside.

In Experiment 2, the air inside the bottle was 2 Fill the glass bottle with cold water. This allows the
heated. When air is heated, it expands and the bottle to get fairly cold, as well.
density is lower (less compact). Since the air
was expanding, it caused the balloon to expand 3 Empty the glass bottle and quickly cover the bottle’s
outside the bottle, as well. opening with a balloon. This traps in cold air inside
In the atmosphere the warmer, lighter air rises the cold bottle.
since it is lighter, and the colder air sinks since
the density is higher. Sinking cold, air can create 4 Now place the bottle upright in the bowl of warm
areas of high pressure and rising, warm air often water. This will heat the air inside the bottle. Observe
creates areas of low pressure. what happens to the balloon. Write down your results.

36 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WHY THE WIND BLOWS TORNADOES

What are Tornadoes?


TORNADOES CAN TAKE ON
SEVERAL SIZES AND SHAPES
AND SOMETIMES HAVE SEVERAL
DIFFERENT NAMES. It is important
to understand what different
tornado-related words mean and
how to use them.

A tornado (sometimes called a twister or


cyclone) is an area of rapidly circulating winds
that blow around a small, but intense, low-
pressure area. Tornadoes usually extend from the
base of a thunderstorm.

A funnel cloud is similar to a tornado, but its circulation is


in the air and has not reached the ground. At the point the
circulation reaches the ground, a funnel cloud becomes a
tornado.

A wall cloud is a lowering out of the base of a thunderstorm (even lower than the bottom of the
thunderstorm itself) which is rotating. Wall clouds are sometimes difficult to detect because of their
ragged appearance. However, wall clouds are indicators of the most dangerous part of the
thunderstorm base. It is in this area that tornadoes develop.

Why do tornadoes form?


Tornadoes form when conditions are right and can thunderstorm. It allows a thunderstorm to take in
even help large thunderstorms keep themselves large amounts of air at a time into the storm’s body.
going. Without the tornado, many thunderstorms Unfortunately, this process is very damaging to
would lose their source of warm, humid surface air anything in its path.
that keeps them alive. Large thunderstorms take large
amounts of air from the surface up into the body of Tornadoes can have wind speeds anywhere from
the thunderstorm. Some air must come back down near 65mph all the way up to more than 300mph.
to replace the air that was sucked up into the They vary in size, too. Small tornadoes may only be a
thunderstorm. This downward moving air is called a few feet wide, but large tornadoes can reach a
downdraft. Downdrafts are necessary, but they can diameter more than one mile wide. Most tornadoes
“choke” a thunderstorm and give it no way to pull are between 300 and 2000 feet wide. Each year in the
warm, humid air up into the main body of the storm. United States, about 1,000 tornadoes form.
That is where the tornado can be helpful to a
© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 37
WHY THE WIND BLOWS TORNADOES

Why do Tornadoes rotate anyway?


TORNADOES ARE MADE ONLY IN
CERTAIN TYPES OF WEATHER PATTERNS. This allows
meteorologists to issues forecasts and Tornado Watches to
warn you ahead of time. To make a tornado, you need the
winds to be turning as you go higher and higher up in the
atmosphere.

For example, say the wind on the ground is blowing from the southeast.
But, if you go 500 feet above the ground, the winds are blowing from the
southwest. That means that the winds are turning from the southeast to the
southwest near the ground. Also remember that the air from the ground
level feeds a thunderstorm. This air is “turning” already and as it is sucked
into the thunderstorm, the whole thunderstorm begins to turn, or rotate.

What happens when you take a glass of water and stir it up very fast with
a spoon? As the water in the glass rotates faster and faster, a little funnel
forms in the middle of the glass and tries to reach the bottom of the
glass. In a similar way, a thunderstorm has air rotating around the
inside of it and eventually a funnel cloud may form out of the bottom
of the thunderstorm. If that funnel cloud reaches the ground it becomes a tornado!

The Invisible Tornado


NOT ALL TORNADOES CAN BE SEEN CLEARLY. SOME ARE DISGUISED BY HEAVY RAIN. Some take place
at night in the dark. Some, however, are not wrapped in rain or at night, but you still can’t see them! These are
like invisible tornadoes.

So how do you know that a tornado is there? First of all, remember that tornadoes form beneath rotating
thunderstorms. A tornado is a tornado if its rotating winds have touched the ground. Sometimes the funnel-
shaped cloud is not visible. At the point the tornado touches the ground, it begins to swirl dirt and debris. This
is called a debris cloud. If you see a debris cloud—but no visible tornado—you have just spotted an invisible
tornado. These are just as dangerous as any other tornado!

38 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WHY THE WIND BLOWS TORNADOES

Ranking the Tornadoes


TORNADOES ARE MEASURED BY THE AMOUNT OF DAMAGE THEY PRODUCE. It would be impossible for
anyone to accurately measure a tornado the way we normally measure wind, because the tornado would
destroy the equipment. Also, tornadoes form and go away before we could get the equipment to the tornado.
So, the only way left to measure them is to look at the damage they did.

We use a scale to measure the damage caused by a tornado and from that damage, we can estimate the
winds. Look at the Fujita scale below for tornadoes and the description of the damage caused. This is the new
wind damage scale that was first used in 2007.

EF-SCALE INTENSITY
WIND SPEED TYPE OF DAMAGE DONE
NUMBER PHRASE
Some damage to chimneys; breaks branches off
EF-0 Gale tornado 65-85 mph trees; pushes over shallow-rooted trees; damages
sign boards.

The lower limit of hurricane wind speed; peels


surface off roofs; mobile homes pushed off
EF-1 Moderate tornado 86-110 mph
foundations or overturned; moving autos pushed off
the roads; attached garages may be destroyed.

Considerable damage. Roofs torn off frame houses;


Significant tornado mobile homes demolished; boxcars pushed over;
EF-2 111-135 mph
large trees snapped or uprooted; light object
missiles generated.

Roof and some walls torn off well-constructed


EF-3 Severe tornado 138-167 mph houses; trains overturned; most trees in forests
uprooted
Well-constructed houses leveled; structures with
Devastating tornado
EF-4 168-199 mph weak foundations blown off some distance; cars
thrown and large “missiles” generated.

Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and


carried considerable distances to disintegrate;
More than
EF-5 Incredible tornado automobile-sized missiles fly through the air in
200 mph
excess of 100 meters; trees debarked; steel
reinforced concrete structures badly damaged.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 39


WHY THE WIND BLOWS QUESTIONS TORNADOES

REVIEW

Use your knowledge of tornadoes to answer the following questions


to the best of your ability.
1 About how many tornadoes occur in the United States every year? ___________________________________________________

2 According to the National Weather Service, Oklahoma averages around 53 tornadoes per year.
In which season of the year do you think most of these tornadoes occur?___________________________________________

3 If a framed house was hit by a tornado and the damage consisted of a roof that was torn off, windows were
blown out, but most of the walls were still standing, then what would the Fujita-scale ranking be of this
tornado? (use the chart on the previous page for assistance on this one) ____________________________________________

4 What type of cloud rotates at the bottom of a thunderstorm and is a warning sign of a possible tornado?
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5 What is the name of the cloud of dust and broken materials that forms at the bottom of a tornado?
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6 A tornado looks like it is developing from a thunderstorm. What would the name of this developing tornado
be BEFORE it reaches to the ground?___________________________________________________________________________________________

40 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WHY THE WIND BLOWS HURRICANES

What is a Hurricane?

A HURRICANE IS A LARGE, STRONG STORM THAT DEVELOPS OVER THE WARM WATERS OF THE
OCEAN. This area of warm ocean water is known as the tropics. Hurricanes form when air moves toward an
area of low pressure over very warm water. At the low-pressure center, this air begins to rise forming a large
area of thunderstorms. If the air is allowed to “evacuate” from the top of the hurricane (high pressure in the
upper-levels of the atmosphere causes wind to spread out) and the storm remains over warm water, then the
hurricane will strengthen. (Note that the water off the west coast of the United States is much colder than
the waters off of the East Coast. That, along with more favorable wind patterns in the East Coast areas,
makes a land-falling West Coast hurricane a rare occurrence.)

Remember that air spins counter-clockwise around low pressure. Let’s say that at the ocean surface a low
pressure begins to develop. The air begins to move in toward the low pressure and around it counterclockwise.
As all of this air comes together, too much “piles up” in this area and some has to rise to escape. This lifting
air often develops into thunderstorms. As the pressure drops, the air spins faster and more air rises forming
more thunderstorms. This keeps going and going until the storm system is very strong. It has very fast winds
spinning counter-clockwise with bands of thunderstorm rotating around it, too. This is now a hurricane.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 41


WHY THE WIND BLOWS HURRICANES

Naming the Hurricanes


SINCE HURRICANES DO SO MUCH DAMAGE, PEOPLE
OFTEN WANT TO TALK ABOUT A CERTAIN HURRICANE. The
easiest way to talk about something is if you give it a name. So,
hurricanes are named. (The same could be done for tornadoes, WIND SPEEDS
but there are too many to name!)

As a storm in the tropics develops and gets stronger, it is given CATEGORY 1 74-95 mph
different names. A tropical depression is a developing storm
that has maximum winds of 39mph or less. As the storm gains CATEGORY 2 96-110 mph
strength, and reaches winds of 40mph to 73mph, it is called a
tropical storm. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when the
maximum winds of the storm reach 74mph. Hurricanes can CATEGORY 3 111-130 mph
have wind gusts more than 200mph.
CATEGORY 4 131-155 mph
Each year, there is a list of names that will be given to hurricanes
or tropical storms in the order that they occur. The first named
storm gets an “A” name, the second a “B” name, and so on. The CATEGORY 5 156 mph or more
name list alternates men’s and women’s names through the list
and each ocean has its own set of names. Hurricanes are also
ranked into categories by strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Where Most Tropical


Systems Form

PACIFIC BASIN

ATLANTIC BASIN

42 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WHY THE WIND BLOWS QUESTIONS HURRICANES

REVIEW
Answer the following questions from what you have learned in the previous pages
and in class about hurricanes.
1 Residents of North Carolina watch which ocean for developing hurricanes and tropical storms?
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2 Why would you not be concerned about a hurricane hitting San Francisco,
even though it sits right on the coast? ___________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3 Look up the link on hurricane names at the Weather in the Classroom website (see front cover for
web address) and fill in the names for this year’s hurricane season.

“A” Name _______________________________ “H” Name _______________________________ “O” Name _______________________________

“B” Name _______________________________ “I” Name _______________________________ “P” Name _______________________________

“C” Name _______________________________ “J” Name _______________________________ “R” Name _______________________________

“D” Name _______________________________ “K” Name _______________________________ “S” Name _______________________________

“E” Name _______________________________ “L” Name _______________________________ “T” Name _______________________________

“F” Name _______________________________ “M” Name _______________________________ “V” Name _______________________________

“G” Name _______________________________ “N” Name _______________________________ “W” Name_______________________________

4 Put the following tropical systems in order from weakest to strongest: Hurricane,
tropical depression and tropical storm.

Weakest _________________
_________________
Strongest _________________

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 43


WHY THE WIND BLOWS GAMES WEATHER WORD SEARCH

Weather Word Search


J O X P C S H R R V N M U T U A D T J N
R K U H O O E A N E R D R A Z Z I L B E
D N Y U V D C P I O X S N O W F L A K E
K V F Y N V Y V T L I H Z O U S O Q L H
E Q Y U B A X S O Y S H K D Z P C I O W
W V H H B S R J O W U T P A Z R B K B T
S T A B R E U J N R S S O N V I A Y Z Y
Y P E W D L N M R Z X A V R A N F A J F
M V A N T X J I M E F B C O M G A U V E
W S U R Z A C B R E E Z Y T W L K D O J
R H P L S A E L X B R T C I Y I J Y M E
T U O C N D M H W M K R N Y O G V M Q N
U F N E R X K V I O Q T R D N H B G T S
E G T J V R M K J D E E H N X T D J J W
W R N D I K O M H R Y W B I F N O H G N
B K E B V F E K W X U S D W C I P L N K
Q L E V N D Y Z I G S V F H V N T S Y N
Y L A V E Q V Y D Z G K U E I G L E M J
V V N K H S Y D E N Z B K C U G K U Q B
A A V C O S E Z D F F Q J P F J B E U V

AUTUMN HEATWAVE SNOWFLAKE THUNDERSTORM


BLIZZARD HURRICANE SPRING TORNADO
BREEZY LIGHTNING SUMMER WINDY
HAILSTORM SEVERE THUNDER WINTER

44 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WHY THE WIND BLOWS GAMES METEREOLOGY CROSSWORD

Meteorology Crossword
ACROSS
7. The measure of how much mass
(weight) is in a given volume.

9. A high, thin cloud made up of


ice crystals.

11. Used to measure air pressure.

13. Used to measure air temperature.

14. This is violently rotating column of air.

15. The wind flows clockwise around


an area of ______ pressure.

16. Frozen drops of rain that fall as


pellets of ice in winter.

DOWN
1. The scale by which we
categorize hurricanes.

2. A type of cloud that is associated


with thunderstorms.

3. A measure of how much moisture


is in the air.

4. The sun is directly overhead the


Tropic of _________ on the
summer solstice. 9. This is an apparent force on the
wind that is caused by the spin of
5. Used to measure wind speed. the Earth.

6. The sun is directly overhead the 10. When all molecules stop moving,
Tropic of Capricorn on the you have reached the coldest possible
_________ solstice. temperature called ________ zero.

8. The scale by which we rank tornadoes. 12. The wind flows counter-clockwise
around an area of _______ pressure.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 45


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SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS

Severe Weather
Alerts
LOCAL GEOGRAPHY
SAFETY PROCEDURES
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS

Where do You Live?


Below is a map of Oklahoma.

When there is severe weather, warnings are issued for each county.
Do you know the county in which you live? Find your county and shade it in red.

FILL IN THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION FOR YOUR USE:

In what state do you live? ______________________

In what country do you live? _____________________

In what city do you live? _______________________

Place a star on the map closest to where you live and go to school.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 49


SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS

Tornado Safety
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF A TORNADO:

Always try to get to a basement or storm shelter…you cannot find a better place of shelter than
below ground.

WHAT TO DO IF THERE IS NO BASEMENT OR STORM SHELTER:

Go to a small room in the center or your home on the lowest floor with no windows. A closet or
bathroom is best. The best thing to do is to cover yourself with pillows, blankets, mattresses, etc.
The idea is to protect yourself from flying objects. If you do not have a center room, go to a small
room along the east wall of your home.

IF YOUR HOME IS NOT ON A PERMANENT FOUNDATION:

Do not trust a home that is not on a permanent foundation, such as a mobile home. You should have
a place in mind, before the storm even forms, of where you can go. Make a storm safety plan. You
need to choose the closest place of safety (a basement or storm shelter is best).

IF YOU ARE TRAVELING IN A CAR OR TRUCK:

Cars and trucks can be fatal shelters. If you are in the storm’s path, GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE
and take shelter in a ditch or creek.

WHAT ABOUT OVERPASSES AND BRIDGES?

Recent studies have found that taking shelter under a bridge or overpass is more dangerous than
lying flat in a ditch. Winds underneath this bridge or overpass can accelerate and literally suck you
out from underneath it. More than anything, it is NEVER a good idea to be anywhere outside of a
storm shelter or basement during a tornado!

50 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS

Severe Weather Safety


WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF A THUNDERSTORM:

If you are ever outside and a thunderstorm approaches, you need to find a place of shelter from the
storm. Unless there is a tornado, getting inside is the best form of shelter. (If there is a tornado, you
need to follow the tornado safety guidelines.) You should not stay outdoors during a storm. Even in
a weak thunderstorm, lightning possesses enough energy to kill you. Because of this, you need to
take shelter indoors away from the threat of lightning strikes.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE IN A HAILSTORM:

Hailstorms can cause serious bodily injury. Although most hailstones are fairly small, they are falling
from heights of up to 9 miles high. They are moving very fast and can do more than just hurt you.
Even medium size stones can render you unconscious, break bones, and, at the very least, bruise
you. There is no need to be outside during any thunderstorm, especially a hailstorm.

LIGHTNING IS VERY DANGEROUS. REMEMBER THIS:

Lightning is the most frequent example of dangerous weather. Do not let this fool you into thinking
that it is not as serious. More people are killed in the U.S. from lightning in a given year than from
tornadoes. Lightning is very dangerous and can strike up to five miles from the base of thunderstorm.
As a storm approaches, you should take shelter indoors to avoid lightning strikes.

IF YOUR CAR IS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING:

Most cars will not allow you to be shocked if you are inside when it is struck. But, if you get out of
the car and step on the ground while still touching the car, you can allow the remaining electricity in
the car to travel into the ground…and you will be shocked! You should always jump out of the car
without touching the car and ground at the same time if you feel your car has been struck.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 51


SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS

Watches & Warnings


THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, ALONG WITH LOCAL TELEVISION STATIONS, USE A SYSTEM OF
WATCHES AND WARNINGS TO KEEP YOU ADVISED DURING SEVERE WEATHER. Read over the following
definitions of the watches and warnings and try to answer the questions below.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH – This means that conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms
to develop (usually issued for a large number of counties).

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING – This means that a severe thunderstorm has been detected for
a specific area (usually issued for one or two counties).

TORNADO WATCH – This means that conditions are favorable for storms to develop that could produce a
tornado (usually issued for a large number of counties).

TORNADO WARNING – This means that a tornado has been either detected on radar or sighted (usually
issued for one or two counties).

QUESTIONS ABOUT WEATHER SAFETY


1 Which is more serious? a) Tornado Watch b) Tornado Warning

2 During a tornado warning, the best place to take shelter is:


a) your garage b) a large room with plenty of windows c) basement or storm shelter.

3 It is safe to go outdoors during a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. True or False

4 At what point should you take shelter from a tornado?


a) When a Tornado Warning is issued b) When a Tornado Watch is issued
c) When a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued d) Never

5 A severe thunderstorm is detected on radar moving toward your county.


Which of the following would be issued?
a) Tornado Warning b) Tornado Watch c) Severe Thunderstorm Warning
d) Severe Thunderstorm Watch

6 There is plenty of time to move away when lightning begins to strike. True or False.

7 Hailstones are falling very fast and can hurt you if you don’t take shelter inside. True or False.

52 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


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WEATHER GLOSSARY TERMINOLOGY

Weather
Glossary
WEATHER GLOSSARY TERMINOLOGY

A D
ADVECTION - The horizontal transfer of any CLOUDBURST - A sudden, heavy rainfall of a DEW - Condensation in the form of small
property in the atmosphere by the movement showery nature. water drops that form on grass and other
of air. Examples include heat and moisture object near the ground when the temperature
advection. COALESCENCE - The merging of two water has fallen to the dewpoint. Dew generally
drops into a single larger drop. forms during the nighttime hours and evapo-
AIR -This is considered the mixture of gases rates by mid to late morning.
that make up the earth's atmosphere. The COLD FRONT - The leading edge of an
principle gases that compose dry air are advancing cold air mass that is under running DEW POINT - The temperature to which air
Nitrogen at 78.084%, Oxygen at 20.946%, and displacing the warmer air in its path. must be cooled at a constant pressure to
Argon at .93%, and Carbon Dioxide .03% Generally, when a cold front passes the tem- become saturated. Example: If the air temper-
perature and humidity decrease, the pressure ature is 70 degrees and the dewpoint temper-
AIR MASS - An extensive body of air through- rises, and the wind shifts from southwest to ature is 70 degrees the air is saturated and
out which the horizontal temperature and northwest. Precipitation is usually along or dew will form i.e, the relative humidity is 100%
moisture characteristics are similar. ahead of the front in the form of thunderstorms.
DIVERGENCE - Wind movement that results
CONDENSATION - The process by which in a horizontal net outlow of air from a particu-
B water vapor undergoes a change in state from lar region. Divergence at lower levels is asso-
BAROMETER - An instrument used to meas- a gas to a liquid. It's opposite is evaporation. ciated with a downward movement of air from
ure atmospheric pressure. Examples include aloft.
the aneroid barometer and the mercurial CONVECTION - Motions in a fluid that trans-
barometer. port and mix the properties of the fluid. These DOPPLER RADAR - Weather radar that
properties could be heat and/or moisture. measures the direction and speed of a moving
BAROMETRIC PRESSURE - The pressure Often the term convection is used to describe object, such as drops of precipitation, by
exerted by the atmosphere at a given point. upward motion of water vapor (moisture) determining whether atmospheric motion is
The measurement can be expressed in mil- forced to rise by surface heating in turn creat- horizontally toward or away from the radar.
libars(mb) or in inches of mercury(Hg). ing rain or thunderstorms
DOWNBURST - A severe localized downdraft
BLIZZARD - A severe weather condition char- CONVERGENCE - Wind movement that from a thunderstorm or shower. This outward
acterized by low temperatures, winds 35mph results in a horizontal net inflow of air into a burst of cool air creates damaging winds at or
of greater, blowing snow that can reduce visi- particular region. Convergent winds at lower near the surface.
bilities to 1/4 mile or less for more than 3 levels are associated with upward motion.
hours. A severe blizzard is characterized by DROUGHT - Abnormal, dry weather for a spe-
temperatures at or below 10 degrees CORIOLIS FORCE - A force per unit mass cific area that is prolonged and causes serious
Fahrenheit, winds exceeding 45mph, and visi- that arises solely from the earth's rotation, hydrological imbalance.
bility reduced by snow to near zero. acting as a deflecting force. It is dependent on
the latitude and speed of the moving object. DRY LINE - The boundary between the dry
In the Northern Hemisphere the air is deflect- desert air mass of the southwestern U.S. and
C ed to the right, and in the Southern moist air mass from the Gulf of Mexico. It usual-
CALM - Atmospheric conditions devoid of Hemisphere to the left. The coriolis effect is ly lies north-south across the central and south-
wind or any other air motion. almost non-existent at the equator. ern High Plains states during the spring and
summer months. When a dry line passes it
CHINOOK - Refers to the warm downslope CUMULONIMBUS CLOUD - A vertically results in a decrease in humidity, clearing skies,
wind in the Rocky Mountains that may occur developed cloud, often capped by an anvil and wind shift from east/southeasterly to
after an intense cold spell when the tempera- shaped cloud. This cloud is otherwise known west/southwesterly. Its presence influences
tures may rise 20-40 degrees in a matter of as a thundercloud. A cumulonimbus cloud can severe weather development in the Great Plains.
minutes. produce tornadoes, hail, lightning, strong
winds and heavy rain.
CIRRUS - High clouds usually above 18,000 E
feet, composed of ice crystals CYCLONE - An area of closed pressure circu- EASTERLIES - Usually applied to the broad
lation with rotating and converging winds. The patterns of persistent winds with an easterly
CLIMATE - The historical record of average circulation is counterclockwise in the component, such as the easterly trade winds.
daily and seasonal weather events. Statistics Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the
are generally drawn over several decades. The Southern Hemisphere. Also called a low pres- ECHO - The energy return of a radar signal
word is derived from the Greek "klima" mean- sure system and the term used for tropical after it has hit the target.
ing inclination, and reflects the importance cyclone in the Indian Ocean. Other phenome-
early scholars attributed to the sun's influence. na with cyclonic flow may be referred to as EQUATOR - The geographic circle at zero
dust devils, tornadoes, tropical and extratrop- degrees latitude on the earth's surface. It is
CLIMATOLOGY - The study of climate. ical systems. equal distance from the North and South
Includes climatic data, the analysis of the Poles and divides the Northern Hemisphere
causes of the differences in climate, and the from the Southern.
application of climatic data to the solution of
specific design or operational problems.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 55


WEATHER GLOSSARY TERMINOLOGY

E (continued) G
EQUINOX - The point at which the ecliptic FLASH FLOOD - A flood that rises and falls GEOSTATIONARY SATELLITE - An orbiting
intersects the celestial equator. Days and quite rapidly with little or no advance warning, weather satellite that maintains the same position
nights are most nearly equal in duration. In the usually as the result of intense rainfall over a over the equator during the earth's rotation. Also
Northern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox falls relatively small area. Flash floods can be known as GOES, an acronym for Geostationary
on or about March 20 and the autumnal equi- caused by situations such as a sudden exces- Operational Environmental Satellite.
nox on or about September 22. sive rainfall, the failure of a dam, or the thaw
of an ice jam. GRAUPEL - A form of frozen precipitation
EVAPORATION - The physical process by consisting of snowflakes or ice crystals and
which a liquid, such as water is transformed FLOOD - High water flow or an overflow of supercooled water droplets frozen together.
into a gaseous state, such as water vapor. It is rivers or streams from their natural or artificial
the opposite physical process of condensa- banks, inundating adjacent low-lying areas. GRAVITY - The force of attraction of the earth
tion. on an object. The direction is downward rela-
FOG - A visible aggregate of minute water tive to the earth, and it decreases with eleva-
EVAPOTRANSPIRATION - The total amount droplets suspended in the atmosphere at or tion or altitude away from the earth's surface.
of water that is transferred from the earth's near the surface of the earth, reducing hori-
surface to the atmosphere. It is made up of zontal visibility to less than 5/8 statute miles. It GREENHOUSE EFFECT - The overall warm-
the evaporation of liquid or solid water plus is created when the temperature and the dew ing of the earth's lower atmosphere primarily
the transpiration from plants. point of the air have become the same, or due to carbon dioxide and water vapor which
nearly the same, and sufficient condensation permit the sun's rays to heat the earth, but
EXTRATROPICAL CYCLONE - Any cyclone nuclei are present. then restrict some heat-energy from escaping
not of tropical origin. Generally considered to back into space.
be a migratory frontal cyclone found in the FORECAST - A statement of expected future
middle and high latitudes. occurrences. Weather forecasting includes the GUST - A sudden significant increase in or
use of objective models based on certain rapid fluctuations of wind speed. Peak wind
EYE - The center of a tropical storm or hurri- atmospheric parameters, along with the skill must reach at least 16 knots (18 miles per
cane, characterized by a roughly circular area and experience of a meteorologist. hour) and the variation between peaks and lulls
of light winds and rain-free skies. An eye will is at least ten knots (11.5 miles per hour). The
usually develop when the maximum sustained FREEZING DRIZZLE - Drizzle, falling as a liq- duration is usually less than twenty seconds.
wind speeds exceed 78 mph. It can range in uid, but freezing on impact with the colder
size from as small as 5 miles up to 60 miles, ground or other exposed surfaces. GUST FRONT - The leading edge of the cool,
but the average size is 20 miles. In general, gusty surface winds produced by thunder-
when the eye begins to shrink in size, the FREEZING RAIN - Rain that falls as liquid and storm downdrafts. Sometimes confused with
storm is intensifying. freezes upon impact to form a coating of glaze an outflow boundary.
on the colder ground or other exposed sur-
EYEWALL - An organized band of convection faces. GUSTNADO - A weak, and usually short-lived,
surrounding the eye, or center, of a tropical tornado that forms along the gust front of a
cyclone. It contains cumulonimbus clouds, FRONT - The transition zone or interface thunderstorm, appearing as a temporary dust
intense rainfall and very strong winds. between two air masses of different densities, whirl or debris cloud.
which usually means different temperatures.
For example, the area of convergence
F between warm, moist air and cool, dry air. H
FAHRENHEIT TEMPERATURE SCALE - A HAIL - Precipitation that originates in convec-
temperature scale where water at sea level FROST - The covering of ice crystals that tive clouds, such as cumulonimbus, in the
has a freezing point of +32 degrees F and a forms by direct sublimation on exposed sur- form of balls or irregular pieces of ice, which
boiling point of +212 degrees F. More com- faces whose temperature is below freezing. comes in different shapes and sizes. Hail is
monly used in areas that observe the English considered to have a diameter of five millime-
system of measurement. Created in 1714 by FUJITA SCALE - A scale that classifies the ter or more; smaller bits of ice are classified as
Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit (1696-1736), a severity of wind damage intensity based on ice pellets, snow pellets, or graupel. Individual
German physicist, who also invented the alco- the degree of destruction as it relates to the lumps are called hailstones.
hol and mercury thermometers. wind speed as well as path length and path
width of the event. It is normally used to iden- HAZE - A suspension of fine dust and/or
FAIR - This is a subjective description. tify the most intense damage exhibited by a smoke particles in the air. Invisible to the
Considered as pleasant weather conditions tornado. Developed by T. Theodore Fujita and naked eye, the particles reduce visibility by
with regard to the time of year and the physi- Allen Pearson. being sufficiently numerous to give the air an
cal conditions. Also refers to no cloud cover opalescent appearance.
below 10,000 feet. FUNNEL CLOUD - A violent, rotating column
of air visibly extending from the base of a tow- HEAT - A form of energy transferred between
ering cumulus or cumulonimbus toward the two systems by virtue of a difference in tem-
ground, but not in contact with it. perature. The first law of thermodynamics
demonstrated that the heat absorbed by a
system may be used by the system to do
work or to raise its internal energy.

56 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WEATHER GLOSSARY TERMINOLOGY

H (continued) I J
HEAT INDEX - The combination of air temper- ICE - Water in a solid state. It can be found in JETSTREAK - A region of accelerated wind
ature and humidity that gives a description of the atmosphere in the form of ice crystals, speed along the axis of a jet stream.
how the temperature feels. This is not the snow, ice pellets, and hail.
actual air temperature. JETSTREAM - A area of strong winds that are
INCHES OF MERCURY - The name comes concentrated in a relatively narrow band in the
HEAT LIGHTNING - Lightning that appears as from the use of mercurial barometers which upper troposphere of the Northern and
a glowing flash on the horizon. It is actually equate the height of a column of mercury with Southern Hemispheres. Flowing in a semi-
lightning occurring in distant thunderstorms, air pressure. One inch of mercury is equivalent continuous band around the globe from west
just over the horizon and too far away for to 33.86 millibars. First devised in 1644 by to east, it is caused by the changes in air tem-
thunder to be heard. Evangelista Torricelli, an Italian physicist and perature where the cold polar air moving
mathematician, to explain the fundamental towards the equator meets the warmer equa-
HEAT WAVE - A period of abnormally and principles of hydromechanics. torial air moving northward toward the poles.
uncomfortably hot weather. It could last from
several days to several weeks. INFRARED - The long wave, electromagnetic K
radiation of radiant heat emitted by all hot KATABATIC WIND - A wind that is created by
HIGH CLOUDS - A term used to signify cirri- objects. On the electromagnetic spectrum, it air flowing downhill. When the air is warm, it
form clouds that are composed of ice crystals can be found between microwave radiation may be called a foehn wind, and regionally
and generally have bases above 20,000 feet. and visible light. Water vapor, ozone, and car- may be known as a Chinook, or Santa Ana.
The main types of high clouds are cirrus, cir- bon dioxide are efficient at absorbing or trans- When this air is cool, it is called a drainage
rocumulus, and cirrostratus. This altitude mitting infrared radiation. wind, mountain breeze or glacier wind.
applies to the temperate zone. In the polar
regions, these clouds may be found at lower INSOLATION - Solar radiation or heating KNOT - A nautical unit of wind speed equal to
altitudes. In the tropics, the defining altitudes received at the earth's surface. The name is the velocity at which one nautical mile is trav-
for cloud types are generally higher. derived from INcoming SOLar radiATION. eled in one hour. Used primarily by marine
interests and in weather observations. 1 knot
HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM - An area of rela- INSTABILITY - It is the condition of the = 1.151 statute miles per hour.
tive pressure maximum that has diverging atmosphere when spontaneous convection
winds and a rotation opposite to the earth's and severe weather can occur. Air parcels,
rotation. This is clockwise in the Northern when displaced L
Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the vertically, will accelerate upward. LAND BREEZE - A diurnal coastal breeze that
Southern Hemisphere. It is the opposite of an blows offshore, from the land to the sea. It is
area of low pressure or a cyclone. INTERTROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE caused by the temperature difference when
(ITCZ) - An area where the Northern and the sea surface is warmer than the adjacent
HOOK ECHO - A radar reflectivity pattern Southern Hemispheric trade winds converge. land. Predominate during the night, it reaches
observed in a thunderstorm, appearing like a It is a broad area of low pressure where both its maximum around dawn.
fish hook and indicating favorable conditions the Coriolis force and the low-level pressure
for tornadic development. However, hook gradient are weak, occasionally allowing tropi- LAPSE RATE - The change of an atmospheric
echoes and tornadoes do not always accom- cal disturbances to form. The ITCZ fluctuates, variable, usually temperature, with height. A
pany each other. moving northward over the south Atlantic dur- steep lapse rate implies a rapid decrease in
ing the Northern Hemisphere summer. temperature with height. This is a sign of
HUMIDITY - The amount of water vapor in the instability.
air. It is often confused with relative humidity INVERSION - It refers to an increase in an
or dew point. atmospheric property with height. For exam- LATITUDE - The location north or south in ref-
ple...A temperature inversion is when the tem- erence to the equator, which is designated at
HURRICANE - The name for a tropical perature increases with altitude, which is a zero degrees. Parallel lines that circle the
cyclone with sustained winds of 74 miles per departure from the usual decrease of temper- globe both north and south of the equator.
hour (65 knots) or greater in the North Atlantic ature with height. The poles are at 90 degrees North and South
Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in latitude.
the eastern North Pacific Ocean. This same IONISPHERE - An atmospheric zone of ion-
tropical cyclone is known as a typhoon in the ized gases that extends between 50 and 400 LEE/LEESIDE - The side of an object, such
western Pacific and a cyclone in the Indian miles above the surface of the Earth. It is as a ship's sail, a mountain, or a hill, furthest
Ocean. located between the mesosphere and the away from the wind, and therefore protected
exosphere. from the direct force of the wind.
HYDROLOGIC CYCLE - Often called the
water cycle, it is the vertical and horizontal ISOBAR - The line drawn on a weather map LIGHTNING - A rapid, visible discharge of
transport of water in all its states between the connecting points of equal barometric pres- electricity hotter than the surface of the sun.
earth, the atmosphere, and the seas. sure. Lightning is caused by the build up of electri-
cal potential between cloud and ground,
HYGROMETER - An instrument that meas- ISOTHERM - The line of equal or constant between clouds, or between clouds and the
ures the water vapor content of the atmos- temperature. surrounding air.
phere.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 57


WEATHER GLOSSARY TERMINOLOGY

L (continued)
LONGITUDE - The location east or west in MESOSCALE - The scale of meteorological MONSOON - The seasonal shift of winds cre-
reference to the Prime Meridian, which is des- phenomena that range in size from several ated by the great annual temperature variation
ignated at 0 degrees longitude. The distance kilometers to around 100 kilometers. Smaller that occurs over large areas in contrast with
between lines of longitude are greater at the phenomena are classified as microscale while associated ocean surfaces. The monsoon is
equator and smaller at the higher latitudes. larger are classified as synoptic-scale. associated primarily with the moisture and
Time zones are correlated to longitude. copious rains that arrive with the southwest
METEOROLOGY/METEOROLOGIST - The flow across southern India. The name is
LOW CLOUDS - A term used to describe science and study of the atmosphere and derived from the word mausim, Arabic for sea-
clouds with bases below 6,000 feet. Types of atmospheric phenomena. Various areas of son. This pattern is most evident on the
low clouds include stratus, stratocumulus, meteorology include agricultural, applied, southern and eastern sides of Asia, although it
cumulus and cumulonimbus. astrometerology, aviation, dynamic, hydrome- does occur elsewhere, such as in the south-
teorology, operational, and synoptic, to name western United States.
LOW LEVEL JET - Strong winds that are con- a few. A scientist who studies the atmosphere
centrated in relatively narrow bands in the and atmospheric phenomena. MULTICELL STORM - A thunderstorm made
lower part of the atmosphere. It is often ampli- up of two or more single-cell storms.
fied at night. MICROBURST - A severe localized wind
blasting down from a thunderstorm. It covers MULTIPLE VORTEX TORNADO - A tornado
LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM - An area of a rel- an area less than 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) in which has two or more condensation funnels
ative pressure minimum that has converging diameter and is of short duration, usually less or debris clouds, often rotating around a com-
winds and rotates in the same direction as the than five minutes. mon center.
Earth...counterclockwise in the Northern
Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern MICROSCALE - The smallest scale of mete-
Hemisphere. Also known as a cyclone. orological phenomena that range in size from N
a few centimeters to a few kilometers. Larger NIMBOSTRATUS - This cloud exhibits a com-
LUNAR ECLIPSE - A eclipse of the moon phenomena are classified as mesoscale. It bination of rain or snow, and sometimes the
occurs when the Earth is in a direct line also refers to small scale meteorological phe- base of the cloud cannot be seen because of
between the sun and the moon. The moon nomena with life spans of less than a few min- the heaviness of precipitation. They are gener-
does not have any light of its own, instead it utes that affect very small areas and are ally associated with fall and winter conditions,
reflects the sun's light. During a lunar eclipse strongly influenced by local conditions of tem- but can occur during any season.
the moon is in the earth's shadow. perature and terrain.
NOR'EASTER - A cyclonic storm occurring
MIDDLE CLOUDS - A term used to signify off the east coast of North America. These
M clouds with bases between 6,000 and 18,000 winter weather events are notorious for pro-
MARE'S TAIL - The name given to thin, wispy feet. At the higher altitudes, they may also ducing heavy snow, rain, and tremendous
cirrus clouds composed of ice crystals that have some ice crystals, but they are com- waves that crash onto Atlantic beaches, often
appear as veil patches of strands, often posed mainly of water droplets. Altocumulus, causing beach erosion and structural damage.
resembling a horse's tail. altostratus, and nimbostratus are the main Wind gusts associated with these storms can
types of middle clouds. This altitude applies to exceed hurricane force in intensity. A nor'east-
MEAN SEA LEVEL - The average height of the temperate zone. In the polar regions, er gets its name from the continuously strong
the sea surface water level. For the United these clouds may be found at lower altitudes. northeasterly winds blowing in from the ocean
States, it is computed by averaging the levels In the tropics, the defining altitudes for cloud ahead of the storm and over the coastal areas.
of all tide stages over a nineteen year period, types are generally higher.
determined from hourly height readings meas-
ured from a fix, predetermined reference level. MIXED PRECIPITATION - Any of the follow- O
It is used as a basis for determining eleva- ing combinations of freezing and frozen pre- OBSERVATION - In meteorology, the evalua-
tions, as the reference for all altitudes in upper cipitation: snow and sleet, snow and freezing tion of one or more meteorological elements,
air measurements, and as the level above rain, or sleet alone. Rain may also be present. like temperature, pressure or wind that
which altitude is measured by a pressure describe the state of the atmosphere at a
altimeter for aviation. Often referred to as MOISTURE - Refers to the water vapor con- given time. A trained observer is one who
MSL. tent in the atmosphere, or the total water, liq- records the evaluations of the meteorological
uid, solid or vapor, in a given volume of air. records.
MESOCYCLONE - An area of rotation of
storm size that may often be found on the OUTFLOW - Also referred to as an outflow
southwest part of a supercell. Its circulation boundary. It is the outward flow of air from a
can be larger than the tornado that may devel- system such as a thunderstorm. It is the result
op within it, but not necessarily. Originally a of cold downdrafts and its passage includes a
radar term for a rotation signature that met wind shift and most often a temperature drop.
certain criteria, it is best seen on Doppler Outflow boundaries sometimes help produce
radar. thunderstorms as they move into regions of
instability.

OVERCAST - When the sky is completely


covered by clouds.

58 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WEATHER GLOSSARY TERMINOLOGY

O (continued)
OVERRUNNING - This occurs when a rela- RADIATION - The process by which energy is SATELLITE - Any object that orbits a celestial
tively warm air mass is forced above a cooler propagated through any medium by virtue of body, such as a moon. However, the term is
air mass of greater density. Weather generally the wave motion of that medium. often used in reference to the manufactured
associated with this event include cloudiness, Electromagnetic radiation, which emits heat objects that orbit the earth, either in a geosta-
cool temperatures and steady precipitation. and light, is one form. Sound waves are tionary or a polar manner. Some of the infor-
another. mation that is gathered by weather satellites,
OZONE LAYER - An atmospheric layer that includes upper air temperatures and humidity,
contains a high proportion of oxygen that RADIATION FOG - Fog that is created when recording the temperatures of cloud tops,
exists as ozone. It acts as a filtering mecha- radiational cooling at the earth's surface low- land, and ocean, monitoring the movement of
nism against incoming ultraviolet radiation. It ers the temperature of the air near the ground clouds to determine upper level wind speeds,
is located between the troposphere and the to or below its dew point. Formation is best tracing the movement of water vapor, monitor-
stratosphere between 9.5 and 12.5 miles when there is a shallow surface layer of rela- ing the sun and solar activity, and relaying data
above the Earth's surface. Ozone at the sur- tively moist air beneath a drier layer, clear from weather instruments around the world.
face is not healthy for humans to breathe. skies, and light surface winds. This primarily
occurs during the night or early morning. SCATTERING - The process by which small
particles suspended in the air diffuse a portion
P RAINBOW - A luminous arc featuring all col- of the incident radiation in all directions. This
PARTLY CLOUDY - The state of the weather ors of the visible light spectrum (red, orange, is a primary reason for colors, such as blue
when clouds are conspicuously present, but yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). It is skies, rainbows, and orange sunsets.
do not completely cover the sky at a given created by refraction, total reflection, and the
time. Sometimes interchanged with mostly dispersion of light. It is visible when the sun is SEA BREEZE - A diurnal coastal breeze that
sunny. shining through air containing water spray or blows onshore, from the sea to the land. It is
raindrops, which occurs during or immediately caused by the temperature difference when the
POLAR-ORBITING SATELLITE - A satellite after a rain shower. The bow is always surface of the land is warmer than the adjacent
whose orbit passes over both of the Earth's observed in the opposite side of the sky from body of water. Predominate during the day, it
poles gathering cloud and temperature data. the sun. reaches its maximum early to mid afternoon. It
blows in the opposite direction of a land breeze.
PRECIPITATION - Any and all forms of water, REFLECTIVITY - A measure of the process by
liquid or solid, that falls from clouds and which a surface can turn back a portion of SEA LEVEL PRESSURE - The atmospheric
reaches the ground. This includes, drizzle, incident radiation into the medium through pressure at mean sea level, usually deter-
freezing drizzle, freezing rain, hail, ice crystals, which the radiation approached. It also refers mined from the observed station pressure.
ice pellets, rain, snow, snow pellets, and snow to the degree by which precipitation is able to
grains. reflect a radar beam. Related albedo. SEVERE THUNDERSTORM - A thunderstorm
with winds measuring 50 knots (58 mph) or
PRESSURE - The force per unit area exerted RELATIVE HUMIDITY - A type of humidity greater, 3/4 inch hail or larger, or tornadoes.
by the weight of the atmosphere above a that considers the ratio of the actual vapor Severe thunderstorms may also produce tor-
point on or above the earth's surface. pressure of the air to the saturation vapor rential rain and frequent lightning.
pressure. It is usually expressed in percent-
PRESSURE GRADIENT - The amount of age. SEVERE WEATHER - Generally, any destruc-
pressure change that occurs over a fixed dis- tive weather event, but usually applies to
tance at a fixed altitude. RIME - The rapid freezing of supercooled localized storms, such as blizzards, intense
water droplets as they touch an exposed thunderstorms, or tornadoes.
PREVAILING WIND - A wind that blows from object, forming a white opaque granular
one direction more frequently than any other deposit of ice. It is one of the results of an ice SHEAR - It is the rate of change over a short
during a given period, such as a day, month, storm, and when formed on aircraft it is called duration. In wind shear, it can refer to the fre-
season, or year. rime icing. Related glaze quent change in wind speed within a short
distance. It can occur vertically or horizontally.
PSYCHROMETER - An instrument used to ROLL CLOUD - A relatively rare, low-level, Directional shear is a frequent change in direc-
measure the water vapor content of the horizontal, tube-shaped cloud. Although they tion within a short distance, which can also
atmosphere. It consists of two thermometers, are associated with a thunderstorm, they are occur vertically or horizontally. When used in
a wet bulb and dry bulb. May also be referred completely detached from the base of the reference to Doppler radar, it describes the
to as a sling psychrometer. cumulonimbus cloud. change in radial velocity over short distances
horizontally.

R S SKY COVER - The amount of the celestial


RADAR - Acronym for RAdio Detection And SAFFIR - SIMPSON DAMAGE-POTENTIAL dome that is hidden by clouds and/or obscu-
Ranging. An electronic instrument used to SCALE - Developed in the early 1970s by rations.
detect distant objects and measure their range Herbert Saffir, and Robert Simpson, it is a
by how they scatter or reflect radio energy. measure of hurricane intensity on a scale of 1 SLEET - Also known as ice pellets, it is winter
Precipitation and clouds are detected by to 5. The scale categorizes potential damage precipitation in the form of small bits or pellets
measuring the strength of the electromagnetic based on barometric pressure, wind speeds, of ice that rebound after striking the ground or
signal reflected back. and storm-surge. any other hard surface.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 59


WEATHER GLOSSARY TERMINOLOGY

S (continued)
SNOW - Frozen precipitation in the form of SQUALL - A sudden onset of strong winds SUBLIMATION - The process of a solid (ice)
white or translucent ice crystals in complex with speeds increasing to at least 16 knots (18 changing directly into a gas (water vapor), or
branched hexagonal form. It most often falls miles per hour) and sustained at 22 or more water vapor changing directly into ice, at the
from stratiform clouds, but can fall as snow knots (25 miles per hour) for at least one same temperature, without ever going through
showers from cumuliform ones. It usually minute. The intensity and duration is longer the liquid state (water).
appears clustered into snowflakes. than that of a gust.
SUBSIDENCE - A sinking or downward
SNOW FLURRY/FLURRIES - Light showers SQUALL LINE - A narrow band of line of motion of air, often seen in anticyclones. It is
of snow, generally very brief without any active thunderstorms that is not associated most prevalent when there is colder, denser
measurable accumulation. with a cold front. It may form from an outflow air aloft. It is often used to imply the opposite
boundary or the leading edge of a meso-high. of atmospheric convection.
SNOW GRAINS - Frozen precipitation in the
form of very small, white, opaque grains of STATIONARY FRONT - A front which is nearly SUBTROPICAL - The region between the
ice. The solid equivalent of drizzle. stationary or moves very little since the last tropical and temperate regions, an area
synoptic position. May be known as quasi- between 35 and 40 degrees North and South
SNOW PELLETS - Frozen precipitation in the stationary front. latitude. This is generally an area of semi-per-
form of white, round or conical opaque grains manent high pressure that exists and is where
of ice. Their diameter ranges from 0.08 to 0.2 STRAIGHT-LINE WINDS - Any surface wind the Azores and North Pacific Highs may be
inch (2 to 5 mm). They are easily crushed and that is not associated with rotation. An exam- found.
generally break up after rebounding from a ple is the first gust from a thunderstorm, as
hard surface, unlike hail. Sometimes it is opposed to tornadic winds. SUBTROPICAL JET - Marked by a concen-
called small or soft hail. tration of isotherms and vertical shear, this jet
STRATIFORM - Clouds composed of water is the boundary between the subtropical air
SNOWFLAKES - An ice crystal or an aggre- droplets that exhibit no or have very little verti- and the tropical air. It is found approximately
gate of ice crystals which fall from clouds. cal development. The density of the droplets between 25 and 35 degrees North latitude and
often blocks sunlight, casting shadows on the usually above an altitude of 40,000 feet. Its
SOLAR ECLIPSE - An eclipse of the sun earth's surface. Bases of these clouds are gen- position tends to migrate south in the
occurs when the moon is in a direct line erally no more than 6,000 feet above the ground. Northern Hemispheric winter and north in the
between the sun and the earth, casting some They are classified as low clouds, and include all summer.
of the earth's surface in its shadow. The varieties of stratus and stratocumulus.
moon's disk shaped outline appears to cover SUMMER - Astronomically, this is the period
the sun's brighter surface, or photosphere. STRATOCUMULUS - A low cloud composed between the summer solstice and the autum-
That part of the earth that is directly in the of layers or patches of cloud elements. It can nal equinox. It is characterized as having the
moon's shadow will see a total eclipse of the form from cumulus clouds becoming more warmest temperatures of the year, except in
sun, while the areas around it will see a partial stratiformed and often appears as regularly some tropical regions. Customarily, this refers
eclipse. arranged elements that may be tessellated, to the months of June, July, and August in the
rounded, or roll-shaped with relatively flat tops North Hemisphere, and the months of
SOLSTICE - The point at which the sun is the and bases. It is light or dark gray in color, December, January, and February in the South
furthest on the ecliptic from the celestial equa- depending on the size of the water droplets Hemisphere.
tor. The point at which sun is at maximum dis- and the amount of sunlight that is passing
tance from the equator and days and nights through them. SUPERCELL - A severe thunderstorm charac-
are most unequal in duration. The Tropic of terized by a rotating, long-lived, intense
Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are those STRATOPAUSE - The boundary zone or tran- updraft. Although not very common, they pro-
parallels of latitude which lies directly beneath sition layer between the stratosphere and the duce a relatively large amount of severe
a solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere, the mesosphere. Characterized by a decrease in weather, in particular, extremely large hail,
winter solstice falls on or about December 21 temperature with increasing altitude. damaging straight-line winds, and practically
and the summer solstice on or about June 21. all violent tornadoes.
STRATOSPHERE - The layer of the atmos-
SPRING - The season of the year which phere located between the troposphere and SUPERCOOLING - The reduction of the tem-
occurs as the sun approaches the summer the mesosphere, characterized by a slight perature of any liquid below the melting point
solstice, and characterized by increasing tem- temperature increase and absence of clouds. of that substance's solid phase. Cooling a
peratures in the mid-latitudes. Customarily, It extends between 11 and 31 miles (17 to 50 substance beyond its nominal freezing point.
this refers to the months of March, April, and kilometers) above the earth's surface. It is the Supercooled water is water that remains in a
May in the Northern Hemisphere, and the location of the earth's ozone layer. liquid state when it is at a temperature that is
months of September, October, and well below freezing. The smaller and purer the
November in the Southern Hemisphere. STRATUS - One of the three basic cloud water droplets, the more likely they can
Astronomically, this is the period between the forms (the others are cirrus and cumulus). It is become supercooled.
vernal equinox and the summer solstice. also one of the two low cloud types. It is a
sheet-like cloud that does not exhibit individual SURFACE BOUNDARY LAYER - The lowest
elements, and is, perhaps, the most common layer of the earth's atmosphere, usually up to
of all low clouds. Thick and gray, it is seen in 3,300 feet, or one kilometer, from the earth's sur-
low, uniform layers and rarely extends higher face, where the wind is influenced by the friction
than 5,000 feet above the earth's surface. of the earth's surface and the objects on it.

60 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


WEATHER GLOSSARY TERMINOLOGY

S (continued)
SURGE - The increase in seawater height TORNADO - A violently rotating column of air TROPICAL DEPRESSION - A tropical cyclone
from the level that would normally occur were in contact with and extending between a con- in which the maximum sustained surface
there no storm. Although the most dramatic vective cloud and the surface of the earth. It is winds are 38 miles per hour (33 knots) or less.
surges are associated with hurricanes, even the most destructive of all storm-scale atmos- Characteristically having one or more closed
smaller low-pressure systems can cause a pheric phenomena. They can occur anywhere isobars, it may form slowly from a tropical dis-
slight increase in the sea level if the wind and in the world given the right conditions, but are turbance or an easterly wave which has con-
fetch is just right. It is estimated by subtract- most frequent in the United States in an area tinued to organize.
ing the normal astronomic tide from the bounded by the Rockies on the west and the
observed storm tide. Appalachians in the east. TROPICAL DISTURBANCE - An area of
organized convection, originating in the trop-
SYNOPTIC SCALE - The size of migratory TORNADO ALLEY - A geographic corridor in ics and occasionally the subtropics, that main-
high and low pressure systems in the lower the United States which stretches north from tains its identity for 24 hours or more. It is
troposphere that cover a horizontal area of Texas to Nebraska and Iowa. In terms of sheer often the first developmental stage of any
several hundred miles or more. numbers, this section of the United States subsequent tropical depression, tropical
receives more tornadoes than any other. storm, or hurricane.

T TOWERING CUMULUS - Another name for TROPICAL STORM - A tropical cyclone in


TEMPERATURE - The measure of molecular cumulus congestus, it is a rapidly growing which the maximum sustained surface winds
motion or the degree of heat of a substance. cumulus or an individual dome-shaped clouds are from 39 miles per hour (34 knots) to 73
whose height exceeds its width. Its distinctive miles per hour (63 knots). At this point, the
THERMOMETER - An instrument used for cauliflower top often mean showers below, but system is given a name to identify and track it.
measuring temperature. The different scales lacking the characteristic anvil of a cumu-
used in meteorology are Celsius, Fahrenheit, lonimbus, it is not a thunderstorm. TROPICAL WAVE - Another name for an
and Kelvin or Absolute. easterly wave, it is an area of relatively low
TRACE - Generally, a non-measurable or pressure moving westward through the trade
THERMOSPHERE - A thermal classification, it insignificant quantity. A precipitation amount wind easterlies. Generally, it is associated with
is the layer of the atmosphere located of less than 0.005 inch. extensive cloudiness and showers, and may
between the mesosphere and out space. It is be associated with possible tropical cyclone
a region of steadily increasing temperature TRADE WINDS - Two belts of prevailing development.
with altitude. winds that blow easterly from the subtropical
high pressure centers towards the equatorial TROPICS/TROPICAL - The region of the
THUNDER - The sound emitted by rapidly trough. Primarily lower level winds, they are earth located between the Tropic of Cancer, at
expanding gases along the channel of a light- characterized by their great consistency of 23.5 degrees North latitude, and the Tropic of
ning discharge. Over three-quarters of light- direction. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees South latitude. It
ning's electrical discharge is used in heating trades blow from the northeast, and in the encompasses the equatorial region, an area of
the gases in the atmosphere in and immedi- Southern Hemisphere, the trades blow from high temperatures and considerable precipita-
ately around the visible channel. Temperatures the southeast. tion during part of the year.
can rise to over 10,000 degrees Celsius in
microseconds, resulting in a violent pressure TRANSPIRATION - The process by which TROPOPAUSE - The boundary zone or transi-
wave, composed of compression and rarefac- water in plants is transferred as water vapor to tion layer between the troposphere and the
tion. The rumble of thunder is created as the atmosphere. stratosphere. This is characterized by little or
one's ear catches other parts of the dis- no increase or decrease in temperature or
charge, the part of the lightning flash nearest TROPICAL AIR MASS - An air mass that change in lapse rate with increasing altitude.
registering first, then the parts further away. forms in the tropics or subtropics over the low
latitudes. Maritime tropical air is produced TROPOSPHERE - The lowest layer of the
THUNDER SNOW - A wintertime thunder- over oceans and is warm and humid, while atmosphere located between the earth's sur-
storm from which falls snow instead of rain. continental tropical air is formed over arid face to approximately 11 miles (17 kilometers)
regions and is very hot and dry. into the atmosphere. Characterized by clouds
THUNDERSTORM - Produced by a cumu- and weather, temperature generally decreases
lonimbus cloud, it is a microscale event of rel- TROPICAL CYCLONE - A warm-core low with increasing altitude.
atively short duration characterized by thun- pressure system which develops over tropical,
der, lightning, gusty surface winds, turbulence, and sometimes subtropical, waters, and has TROUGH - An elongated area of low atmos-
hail, icing, precipitation, moderate to extreme an organized circulation. Depending on sus- pheric pressure that is associated with an area
up and downdrafts, and under the most tained surface winds, the system is classified of minimum cyclonic circulation. The opposite
severe conditions, tornadoes. as a tropical disturbance, a tropical depres- of a ridge.
sion, a tropical storm, or a hurricane or
typhoon. TWILIGHT - Often called dusk, it is the
evening period of waning light from the time of
sunset to dark.

TWISTER - A slang term used in the United


States for a tornado.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 61


WEATHER GLOSSARY TERMINOLOGY

T (continued)
TYPHOON - The name for a tropical cyclone VIRGA - Streaks or wisps of precipitation, WEATHER - The state of the atmosphere at a
with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour (65 such as water or ice particles, that fall from specific time and with respect to its effect on
knots) or greater in the western North Pacific clouds but evaporate before reaching the life and human activities. It is the short term
Ocean. This same tropical cyclone is known ground. variations of the atmosphere, as opposed to
as a hurricane in the eastern North Pacific and the long term, or climatic, changes.
North Atlantic Ocean, and as a cyclone in the VISIBILITY - A measure of the opacity of the
Indian Ocean. atmosphere, and therefore, the greatest dis- WESTERLIES - Usually applied to the broad
tance one can see prominent objects with nor- patterns of persistent winds with a westerly
mal eyesight. component. It is the dominant persistent
U atmospheric motion, centered over the midlat-
ULTRAVIOLET - Electromagnetic radiation VISIBLE LIGHT - The portion of the electro- itudes of each hemisphere.
that has a wavelength shorter than visible light magnetic spectrum that can be detected by
and longer than x-rays. Although it accounts the human eye. It travels at the same speed WIND - Air that flows in relation to the earth's
for only 4 to 5 percent of the total energy of as all other radiation, that is at 186,000 miles surface, generally horizontally. There are four
insolation, it is responsible for many complex per second. It has a wave length longer than areas of wind that are measured: direction,
photochemical reactions, such as fluores- ultraviolet light and shorter than x-rays. speed, character (gusts and squalls), and
cence and the formation of ozone. shifts. Surface winds are measured by wind
vanes and anemometers, while upper level
UNIVERSAL TIME COORDINATE - One of W winds are detected through pilot balloons,
several names for the twenty-four hour time WALL CLOUD - An abrupt lowering of a rawin, or aircraft reports.
which is used throughout the scientific and cloud from its parent cloud base, a cumu-
military communities. lonimbus or supercell, with no visible precipi- WIND CHILL INDEX - The calculation of tem-
tation underneath. Forming in the area of a perature that takes into consideration the
UNSTABLE/INSTABILITY - Occurs when a thunderstorm updraft, or inflow area, it effects of wind and temperature on the human
rising air parcel becomes less dense than the exhibits rapid upward movement and cyclonic body. Describes the average loss of body heat
surrounding air. Since its temperature will not rotation. It often develops before strong or and how the temperature feels. This is not the
cool as rapidly as the surrounding environ- violent tornadoes. actual air temperature.
ment, it will continue to rise on its own.
WARM ADVECTION - The horizontal move- WIND DIRECTION - The direction from which
UPDRAFT - A small scale current of air with ment of warmer air into a location. the wind is blowing.
vertical motion. If there is enough moisture,
then it may condense, forming a cumulus WARM FRONT - The leading edge of an WIND SHEAR - The rate of wind speed or
cloud, the first step towards thunderstorm advancing warm air mass that is replacing a direction change with distance. Vertical wind
development. retreating relatively colder air mass. Generally, shear is the rate of change of the wind with
with the passage of a warm front, the temper- respect to altitude. Horizontal wind shear is
UPPER AIR/UPPER LEVEL - The portion of ature and humidity increase, the pressure the rate of change on a horizontal plane.
the atmosphere which is above the lower tro- rises, and although the wind shifts (usually
posphere. It is generally applied to the levels from the southwest to the northwest in the WIND VANE - An instrument that indicates
above 850 millibars. Therefore, upper level Northern Hemisphere), it is not as pronounced the wind direction. The end of the vane which
lows and highs, troughs, winds, observations, as with a cold frontal passage. offers the greatest resistance to the motion of
and charts all apply to atmospheric phenome- the air moves to the downwind position.
na above the surface. WARNING - A forecast issued when severe
weather has developed, is already occurring WINDWARD - The direction from which the
UPSLOPE EFFECT - The cooling of an air and reported, or is detected on radar. wind is blowing. Also the upwind side of an
flow as it ascends a hill or mountain slope. If Warnings state a particular hazard or imminent object. The opposite of the downwind or lee-
there is enough moisture and the air is stable, danger, such as tornadoes, severe thunder- ward side.
stratiform clouds and precipitation may form. storms, flash and river floods, winter storms,
If the air is unstable, there might be an heavy snows, etc. WINTER - Astronomically, this is the period
increased chance of thunderstorm develop- between the winter solstice and the vernal
ment. WATCH - A forecast issued well in advance of equinox. It is characterized as having the
a severe weather event to alert the public of coldest temperatures of the year, when the
the possibility of a particular hazard, such as sun is primarily over the opposite hemisphere.
V tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash and
VERNAL EQUINOX - Taking place in the river floods, winter storms, or heavy snows.
Northern Hemispheric spring, it is the point at Z
which the ecliptic intersects the celestial WATERSPOUT - A small, weak tornado, ZONAL FLOW - The flow of air along a latitu-
equator. Days and nights are most nearly which is not formed by a storm-scale rotation. dinal component of existing flow, normally
equal in duration. It falls on or about March 20 It is generally weaker than a supercell tornado from west to east.
and is considered the beginning of spring in and is not associated with a wall cloud or
the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the mesocyclone. It may be observed beneath ZULU TIME - One of several names for the
Southern Hemisphere. cumulonimbus or towering cumulus clouds twenty-four hour time which is used through-
and is the water equivalent of a landspout. out the scientific and military communities.

62 © COPYRIGHT 2008 BY CLASSROOM WEATHER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.