Bob Coutts



 A  tornado   is a large, vertical, whirling air mass hundreds of meters across. Wind speeds in a tornado can go well over a hundred kilometers an hour with spikes up to 300 kph !!. These highly destructive whirlwinds are created when cooler upper level air masses have much different air pressure than the air at ground level. If an unusual condition exists in which a warm air mass is inserted underneath a cold air mass, the warm air wants to rise. As it rises, it whirls on it's way up through the intermediate level air, whirling as it rises much like an up-side down drain in a sink. The power in this whirling air mass is so big that whole neighborhoods full of houses can be destroyed in minutes  and  the wreckage blown up into the sky along with everything in them!.


Hurricanes are extremely large, flat whirling air masses, usually hundreds of kilometers across.  Many hurricanes are bigger than 
Texas !! The wind speed in a hurricane can reach more than two hundred kilometers an hour. The destruction a hurricane can wreck on the land can extend over several states and cost several billion dollars. Hurricanes  come into being over the ocean far out to sea.  The destruction occurs when the high speed hurricane winds reach land and blow down structures and vegetation. One of the WEB BASED EXPERIMENTS you will be able to do here,  is to learn how to search for hurricanes before they are reported on the news by monitoring cloud movement.



Lightning is the discharge of extremely large amounts of static electricity between clouds and the ground. The voltages for these enormous sparks can reach several million  volts !!!  If a lightning bolt hits a tree, the thermal energy released into the tree can cause the sap in the tree to turn into high pressure steam and the tree literally explodes. Lightning rods connected to heavy cables are mounted on top of tall buildings in lightning country, to provide a safe path for the electricity to discharge to ground. If the lightning discharges through the building, the heat from the current flow could cause the building to burn.



Clouds are made when water molecules in  warm,  humid air slow down as the air is cooled.  When the molecules slow down and stick together, they form micro drops. As these micro drops cool even further as they rise higher into the cooler atmosphere, they congeal, forming  water droplets large enough to reflect light. These droplets make up bright white clouds like the ones in the picture on the left. If  the cooling process continues, then the congealing droplets get  even larger. The bigger droplets absorb light, making the cloud darker, as toward the bottom of the picture. When the droplets get very large, the air can no longer hold them up and they fall, making rain. If an up-draft ( an upward wind ) pushes them up further in the atmosphere, the drops can get very large and fall once again. If the temperature gets cold enough in the upper atmosphere, they can freeze, making hail.

       As a WEATHER OBSERVER, you can either measure weather elements directly or use Internet resources to acquire information collected by other observers. Several sites on the Internet contain daily measurements which you can print out for your records. One of the most useful types of information is pictures  of cloud cover all over the world. These pictures enable you to see weather patterns travel across the globe.  Local weather  information is important to every one and is up-dated frequently as conditions change. Everyone is interested in the weather! In addition to up-to-date pictures of cloud cover, beautiful pictures of all different kinds and types of weather phenomena  are available: tornadoshurricanes, thunderstorms, lightning, snow levels, rainfall amounts, cloud types, and  other exciting weather elements. Much of the change in our weather comes about as a result of  the sun's influence on the earth's upper atmosphere. Energy from the sun arrives in the atmosphere and changes its properties . The sun influences both weather here on earth and space weather between here and the sun. Visit the Internet to see where the energy comes from to make changes in our atmosphere, when these changes happen and what happens when the sun's energy reaches the Earth. See if, through daily observations of Earth weather and space weather, you can make a connection  between the two! Welcome to the world of  our Earth's WEATHER!

Hurricane  a large ( several states across ), spinning, spiral shaped, flat air mass  hundreds of kilometers across with speeds exceeding hundreds of  kilometers  per hour, typically existing out in the ocean
Tornado  a tall spinning column of air, close to a kilometer across, with air speeds of over one hundred or more kilometers per hour, usually existing over land
 air pressure in the atmosphere caused by the weight of the air
Lightning  super high wattage discharge of static electricity between the ground and clouds ( very large sparks )
Space weather  conditions in space between earth and the sun, determined by discharge of energy and charged particles from the sun 
Humidity  the relative amount of water in the form of  molecules, in the air
Trough  a long narrow zone of low pressure which may  extend across one or more states  (  other weather can force it's way into this low pressure area )
Front  the leading edge of a large air mass, as in cold front or warm front
Ridge  a long narrow zone of high pressure which may extend over more than one state  ( forces other weather away )
Wind Chill  how cold the air feels when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined

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