Lightning bolt animation

Storms and Severe Weather

Click this link for the Storms Quiz.  If you need help, see the notes below.

Storms fall into several categories. All storms while exciting to view from afar, can be extremely dangerous and destructive.

Thunderstorms are the commonest of storms and frequently accompany hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. They are caused by convection currents. Air is heated and then rises, often pushed upward by heavier, cooler air masses. As the air rises it cools and expands. The water vapor in the air is cooled and condenses into water droplets. As this goes on for a time, a huge thunderhead cloud is formed piled high into the sky. The activity of the air currents flowing upward causes friction and electrical charges form resulting in lightning. The air chills, strong winds form and rain begins to fall as the drops become too heavy to remain aloft.


tornado animation

Tornadoes are tall, narrow, funnel shaped clouds consisting of violent, rotating "twister:winds extending down from a cumulonimbus thunder clouds. As the tornadoes move along a path they appear to bounce up and down on the surface. They cause terrific amounts of damage to all in their paths. The "recipe" for a tornado includes temperatures going up and down, lots of humidity and cool dry air meeting warm, humid air. Tornadoes strike in the summer in the southeastern United States and in the plains. It is a good practice to go to the basement of your home in case of a tornado warning and if outside, to get to a low are such as a ditch quickly as tornadoes can strike without much warning.


Hurricanes are also storms characterized by violent winds greater than 75 miles per hour usually in tropical areas. However, hurricanes form more slowly and last longer than tornadoes. They also affect a far greater area. Hurricanes are called typhoons when occurring in the Pacific Ocean and willy-willies in Australia. A hurricanes begin as tropical storms over the ocean. As they gather a low pressure center forms that sucks up warm air and moisture from the ocean. Eventually this air breaks outward and becomes a huge force. With a hurricane, it is advised that one seek higher ground as the danger of flooding is present. Many people in areas where hurricanes are apt to occur also have shutters to protect their homes and also evacuate if the danger is very grave from the storm. Hurricanes are given nicknames, generally going through the alphabet for the first initial.

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