Rays of light from the sun above a layer of clouds over the earth.

Earth’s atmosphere, while it appears to go forever, is actually a very thin layer of air. Technically the atmosphere reaches out for thousands of miles, but over half of the atmosphere is within 4 miles of the earth’s surface. Think about driving 4 miles- it’s not very far. By the time you’re 16 miles up, 98 percent of the atmosphere is below you. Again, not a big distance. At the upper end of this lies a concentration of a gas that protects life on earth. Without this gas, very little life would be able to survive.  This gas is called ozone. It works to prevent

I don’t know about you, but this Ap

When thunderstorms are predicted for your area, weathercasters will often include information on the severity of projected storms. What does this information mean?

What makes a thunderstorm severe?

The National Weather Service defines a severe thunderstorm as any storm that produces one or more of the following elements:

tornado over field

Mississippi and Alabama were recently hammered with severe storms and large-scale tornadoes. The damage that large high-speed tornadoes can cause is phenomenal and life-threatening.

Many have heard of the “F-Scale” or “EF-Scale” of tornado intensity. The F stands for Fujita, last name of the scientist that developed the scale.

cumulous clouds

If you ever take a few minutes to watch what happens to clouds in the sky, especially in March, you’ll see many puffy shaped clouds form and fall apart. You’ll see these clouds at other times of the year, but they are around a lot in March and April.

What clouds are puffy?

Cumulus clouds form within a few hundred to few thousand feet above ground. They form from surface heating of the earth. Imagine a bunch of air bubbles being warmed by the land below them and acting like hot air balloons. 

The title doesn’t work as well as Beware the Ides of March, but the sentiment is the same. If we experience dew point temperatures in the 50s or 60s in March, just be wary that the chance for severe weather is high.

gray volcano erupting plume of smoke and ash

A large underwater volcano recently erupted in the South Pacific. Volcanoes can send huge amounts of gases and ash into the atmosphere. Very large eruptions can affect the climate.

In 1815, one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in the last several thousand years occurred in the South Pacific. The following year was known as the Year without a Summer in the fledgling nation of the United States. Snow events occurred on the east coast in mid-summer. Western Europe had a very cold summer as well. 

Yellow siren on roof of brick building

Ominous clouds and an approaching storm may be accompanied by the wail of a community siren. Other times they can be heard in the morning on what may be a nice day. What do the different blasts of the siren mean?

Sirens are part of the Public Alert System to let those outdoors be aware of a local or national emergency. Originally designed for civil defense, sirens are also commonly used in the Midwest and other locations to alert people of severe weather.

weather map with Q&A icon on top of it

In December, I provided a weather quiz post, the second one I’ve done. Here are the answers. How did you do this time? Let me know! We’ll try another quiz later in the year.

 

1. True or False, the United States experiences a monsoon. 

man and woman walk dog as sun sets over frosty field

If someone is sad that holiday season is over, here is something to celebrate.  The earth is the closest it will ever be to the sun for the year! 

We all know the earth revolves around the sun. It takes about 365.25 days to do this, or one year.

However, that revolution (or orbit) is not a perfect circle. Instead, it’s slightly elongated or elliptical, which means the earth is farther from the sun at one time and closer at another.