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Weather is the condition of the air that surrounds the earth. Weather affects our lives in many ways; for example, the type of clothing that we wear any given day depends largely on the weather. If it is cold we put on slacks, if it is hot we slip on shorts. The United States has to deal with the wildest weather in the world. Other countries deal with weather, but the USA brings blizzards, + 100 F heat and - 35 F cold, desert dryness, hurricanes and the worlds deadliest tornados. The weather also has a big impact on agriculture.
Farmers need clear weather to plant and harvest their crops. Farmers plants require the right about of sunlight and rain to grow and ripen. A severe storm or frost can damage and kill many crops. All weather develops in the atmosphere (the air that surrounds the earth).
The atmosphere consists chiefly of the gases nitrogen and oxygen. It also has small amounts of other gases. Water vapor and dust are mixed together in the atmosphere. Nearly all weather occurs in the lowest layer of the atmosphere.
This layer is called the troposphere. It begins at the surface of the earth and extends from six to ten miles away. Weather conditions in the troposphere and earth depend on four elements: temperature, air pressure, wind, and moisture. Temperature is the degree of heat in the atmosphere.
The heat that the earth receives comes from the sun; however, only about one billionth of the heat given off by the sun enters the atmosphere. The rest is lost in space. About thirty-four percent is reflected back into space; the atmosphere absorbs another nineteen percent. Forty-seven percent of the sunlight that enters the atmosphere reaches the earths surface. Air pressure is the force of the atmosphere pushing on the earth.
This is greatly affected by the temperature. Warm air weighs less than cool air, and as a result warm air puts less pressure on the earth than does cool air. These are called low and high-pressure areas. Wind is the movement of air from a high- pressure is to a low-pressure area. The bigger the difference in pressure between the two areas, the stronger the wind will be. Moisture enters the atmosphere in the form of water vapor.
Nearly all the vapor comes from water that evaporates from all oceans, seas, and lakes. The amount of water vapor in the air is called humidity. The more moisture that is in the air, the higher the humidity will be. Sometimes winds begin moving great areas of cold or warm air away from where they formed. Then the air masses come into conflict. The place where air masses clash is called a front.
Fronts are often the scene of the most dramatic weather changes and sometimes the most violent weather. Storms are periods of violent weather. The main types of storms include thunderstorms, winter storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. A thunderstorm can be one of the most fascinating and one of the most dangerous aspects of the weather.
Thunderstorms are the most common type of storm on the earth. There are more than 50, 000 thunderstorms that occur throughout the world each day. A thunderstorm not only brings rain, thunder, and lightning, but it can also bring strong winds, hail, and maybe tornadoes. The activity in the clouds during a thunderstorm is very violent. Air currents carry water droplets up and down.
This movement can be so fierce that the molecules inside the clouds become electrically charged. These charges produce lightning. When lightning flashes, it heats the air around it. The air expands violently and creates the sound waves that are known as thunder. Lightning can travel in three different ways: inside a cloud, from cloud to cloud, or from cloud to ground. A bolt of lightning heats the air to a temperature of 54, 000 F (five times hotter than the surface of the sun)!
The extreme heat causes the molecules in the surrounding air to explode outward, creating a shock wave. This shock wave is known as thunder. Lightning tends to strike isolated objects. Lightning and thunder will occur at the same time, but since light travels faster than sound, we will see the flash before we hear the sound.
There is a way that a person can judge how far away he is from a lightning flash. Count the number of seconds between the lightning flash and the sound of the thunder. Divide the number by five. This number is the amount of miles between you and the lightning. Throughout the course of one day there are more than forty million lightning strikes on the face of the earth. A ball of lightning still remains one of the greatest mysteries of a thunderstorm.
Another thing that goes along with thunderstorms is floods. As long as the world is filled with water, there will always be flooding. Floods kill more people each year than hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms, or lightning. In the 1990 s floods killed more than 110 people a year. Floods are caused by rainfall that cannot be put anywhere; so rivers, streams, and lakes overflow creating a flood. A tornado is commonly produced by a spring storm.
A tornado is a powerful twisting windstorm. The winds of a tornado are the most violent winds that occur on earth. The winds of a tornado can reach more than 200 miles an hour. Ninety percent of all tornados reach several hundred yards in diameter. A tornado is a rotating funnel cloud that extends downward from a mass of dark clouds. Winds of a tornado whirl in a counterclockwise direction.
Most tornados last less than an hour, but during that hour tornados can cause millions of dollars in damage. There is a special place in the United States called tornado alley. In tornado alley over 200 tornadoes occur each year; tornado alley is stretched from Texas through Nebraska. This area is liked so much by tornadoes because this is where cold air from Canada frequently meets warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. There are many tornadoes in a year so meteorologists have come up with a way of categorizing tornadoes. The weakest form of a tornado is F- 1 while the strongest form is F- 7.
Never in history has an F- 7 ever touched down on earth. Meteorologists categorize them by determining their wind speed, the diameter at the base, and how much damage they could do. Tornadoes are so powerful that they have been known to send ordinary field straw right through a three feet thick brick wall. The largest tornado ever recorded happened in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925. This tornado traveled over 220 miles and killed over 650 people in the process.
It also traveled at about 60 miles per hour. Tornadoes can be one of the most destructive things on the earth. Therefore, when you see one, take cover. Hurricanes are the only natural disasters that receive their own name. There is a lot of arguing about which storm is more destructive, the tornado or the hurricane.
A hurricane has many differences when compared to a tornado. Hurricanes can only reach about 150 miles per hour, spread more than 120 miles, and last several weeks. Tornadoes on the other hand, will reach 300 miles per hour wind speeds, spread several hundred yards, and last usually around an hour. So you make the choice which one you think is the worlds worst natural disaster. Hurricane winds will kick up 50 foot or higher waves, and will produce more than a foot of rain. Hurricanes however can only happen over an ocean, which makes all countries or states bordering an ocean a threat to a hurricanes power.
Hurricanes can cause many other natural disasters like floods and thunderstorms. On Doppler radar you can see a hurricane forming from over a 1000 miles away. This is unlike a tornado; which if you are lucky, you will spot it twenty minutes before it happens. Blizzards happen quiet often throughout the world. Blizzards are blinding snowstorms with strong, cold winds. A blizzard occurs when a cold air mass moves out of the Arctic into a temperate zone.
The advanced heavy, cold air forces the warmer, moist air to rise along the boundary between two air masses. Many blizzards will follow a period of unusually warm weather in winter. A blizzard is usually defined as a considerable falling or blowing of snow with winds of 35 mile per hour. Temperatures join the winds as low as - 10 F and with visibility less than 500 feet. If a blizzard happens, it will usually disrupt daily life in a city for several days.
In 1993 a blizzard known as Super Storm stretched from Vermont to Florida. Sixty thousand flashes of lightning hit the ground, and tornadoes spun out of the clouds. About 270 people died in Super Storm. Many deaths were in southern states such as Florida, these were the people less prepared from the disaster.
There are many types of weather throughout the world. We cannot escape the weather nor will we be able to harness its power. We will never be able to control it. Weather will continue to affect our lives and sometimes even change our lives in many. Living in the United States people will receive all different types and weather. The United States will continue to be the place where the all the weather comes.
We all need weather, just of us need it in different ways. So next time you look outside and say Darn, Its raining outside, just remember that in some way that rain is helping us live.
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