Questions and Answers about Snow
Another thing to keep in mind is that nearly all rain is snow higher up, so it .. Several years ago I saw several flashes of lightning as snow was falling in Seattle. .. was the latest tornado on record in Maine, with records dating back to Snow and Lightning's relationship, is about trust and Light learning that he too loves Serah. Light and Snow have a unique and refreshing. NASA scientists hope to provide answers to some questions about lightning. Lightning's connection to tropical storms and hurricane intensification has . and severity of weather (hurricanes, droughts, large snow events, etc.).
When researchers trigger lightning, they typically do this in a very controlled environment so people don't get hurt. If lightning is over so quickly, why does thunder sometimes go for several seconds? Because light moves faster than sound. The length of the sound has to do with the length of the channel. Is it true that the lightening strike passes through the air at a very high speed speed of light causing it to be an ionized plasma and that's why we could see it?? The light is created by the heating of the high current.
Has ball lighting ever been observed close up? Ball lightning is mobile plasma spheres that are rare and unpredictable - makes it very hard to study.
Yes, it's been observed up close, but few measurements have been made. Did you know about lightning producing antimatter b4 you launched the satellite that detected it? The NASA BATSE experiment first discovered terrestrial gamma ray burst, and they were surprised to see gamma rays coming from Earth, as these are usually produced by the collapse of a star or other astronomical events.
Do new thunderstorms generally produce CC lightning before CG? Typically in-cloud happens first, by about five minutes. BUT, sometimes, the first discharge is cloud-to-ground lightning - and this can be very dangerous.
Less likelihood of tropical storm because of the decrease in lightening strikes I have noticed this season? The lightning isn't the driver - it's a consequence of the convection. Large-scale climate factors really determine the likelihood of tropical storms.
On average what amount of voltage is present in an average lightning and what was the maximum voltage recorded? It's not the voltage, but the current.
You can have millions of volts inside of a cloud, or between the cloud and ground. Do you know of any projects in progress that are towards harnessing the power of lightening for long term storage for electrical needs? Due to the high current capacity of a lightning bolt, one would think that if you were able to achieve long term storage of said bolt that it would go a long ways towards solving the electrical needs of the local population.
Can't lightning's power be used redirected for example? The Earth has a fair weather current of about amps. But this is "spread out" over the whole surface of the planet - a very big place! That works out to about one-one-trillionth of an amp per square meter.
That's about the amount of current from 2 D-cell batteries. Is it true that lightening helping create Ozone Can we connect the ozone layer holes with stronger lightning appearance?
Lightning will produce ozone, but there's no connection between lightning and the ozone layer. The ozone created by lightning can't make it to the higher parts of the atmosphere where the ozone layer is.
I have read reports about ball lightening passing through the walls of a plane why did it not spread over the skin of the plane and lose its shape what keeps it together is it bipolar. Ball lightning is a puzzle - it occurs in a lot of different forms. Does the different types of lightening ground flashes, cloud to ground lightning, cloud flashes, etc have anything to do with the intensity of a storm?
Yes, it takes more energy to create a negative ground flash than a cloud flash, and takes even more energy to create a positive ground flash. Very strong storms produce much higher lightning rates and often a much higher proportion of that lightning is inter-cloud.
What is cloud seeding? Cloud seeding is when you sprinkle a salt into a cloud - the salt has a crystal structure similar to ice and is supposed to cause condensation followed by rain.
Unfortunately, you often get snow or hail instead. So the snow evaporates before it hits the ground, and the hail damages the crop you were trying to aid. Why does Google Weather's thunderstorm icon feature red lightning? Artistic license, real phenomenon, or terrible omen? Oh yes, red lightning is real - same as red sunsets. It's a scattering of the light through the rain shaft, etc.
I want to know why the lightning has too many branches?? And what influence that it occurs in one place or another? It's caused by the initial leader which comes down from the cloud as a series of steps, and at times breaks into multiple paths.
For typical cloud-to-ground lightning the branching happens downward and for lightning that's sometimes initiated from tall towers or mountain, the branching occurs upward. Only the first return stroke will be branched - subsequent strokes will follow the primary channel to the ground.
But lightning strikes as I have noticed are usually afternoon and early evening. It's the product of convection, driven by solar heating, and max heating occurs in the afternoon and early evening peak 4 p.
What's a "stepped leader"? A leader is an initial breakdown of the air caused by high fields. It moves to the ground in steps, or short segments, about 50 meters per step. Does lighting ever hit the same location again? Especially tall buildings and towers - they can be struck often think Empire State Building. The gamma burst is so absorbed by atmosphere? Yes, but they are clearly strong enough to be detected in space, so not totally absorbed.
How are people able to survive lightning strikes if they're so hot and powerful? Lightning kills by stopping your heart, and if you're lucky enough that it passes on the outside and not through your heart, you can survive a lightning strike.
Many have, though they are badly injured. Sometimes you're not part of the flash itself, but a side flash - and that's enough to cause injury.
I heard people talk about a "lightning line" is there such a thing? We've never heard of this term - can you elaborate? So why is Florida so prone to lighting more than other states. Because it's in a very warm part of Earth, and very humid - two coastlines that are very close together, causing interaction between sea breeze and land breeze every day.
What is the maximum distance lightning can travel? We're assuming lightning outside a cloud - it can go 10s of kilometers. Inside a storm systems, it's been observed to go hundreds of kilometers. Is it possible to predict the time between lightning strikes during a thunderstorm? No, you can't predict either of these.
Sometimes I'm afraid to use my cell phone near a window during a storm. Based on the Faraday Cage you just mentioned, can a cell phone be used after a car has been hit with lightening? I met a guy on the Appalachian trail who's been hit twice by lightening. He goes by the name of lightening, no joke.
Indoors, a cell phone is safe to use. Tell "Lightning" to seek some shelter, the next time you see him! With all these great questions, we're going to keep answering them for another 10 minutes or so I have seen photographs of lightning striking when a volcano erupts why is this? Volcanoes release lots of hot gas and water vapor as well as lots of dust.
The heat causes convection and significant charging. We don't know how much this relates to a typical thunderstorm, but in the past few years, lightning mapper systems have been placed around volcanoes in Alaska and South America and Iceland to try to learn more about it. I was sitting next to my uncle during a storm one day and lightning struck very close by.
We both could taste copper in our mouths like sucking on a penny my uncle described it. Were you inside or outside, like on a porch? Why when we wanna calculate the distance between us and a lightning strike: It's because of the speed of sound vs.
Sound travels at one mile per five seconds. Light is essentially instant. You don't have the same levels of convection or heating compared to, say, Florida. Also, the ocean is colder and keeps the air cold. Has lightning ever struck a space shuttle during liftoff? No, but it has hit the pad while the Shuttle was on it. KSC has lots of effective lightning protection around the launch pads. Apollo 12 was struck by lightning on launch, though.
It actually triggered the event. The mission proceeded without problems.
This is very interesting. I'm a farmer and am always outside during thunderstorms, we have had some pretty severe ones this year in western ny. If I got struck on an all terrain vehicle like a 4 wheeler, with rubber tires, and rubber boots on, what would happen? You'd need to be inside of a metal cage. The rubber tires and rubber boots won't help you. What is the safest position to get into should you get caught out in an electrical storm? Years ago, I heard lie flat, now I hear that you should squat in a small ball, arms around legs, forehead on knees, perched on one leg away from the tallest trees and ridge lines.
I hear this is the shortest path for the lightening to travel? Indoors is the safest position! But if you're truly stuck - you want minimal ground contact because step voltage across the ground is dangerous.
Cows get killed because they can't put their feet together, for example. So put your feet together so voltage can't travel. But again - get inside. There's really no place remotely safe outside in a lightning event. What are some of the factors that determine the color of lightning? While most lightning I've seen is white, I have also had the pleasure of witnessing a storm that had very bright and distinct red lightning.
Winter and Cold Weather Questions
Colors occur due to scattering of light. So in the distance, you might see red just like red sunsets. I believe you mean speed of light ismiles per second. Ball Lightning, how big are they? They can be from marble size to beach ball size. Thank You for answering our questions! You're very welcome - these are terrific questions. What happens the lightning strikes water? It spreads out, just like on the ground. It can kill fish, but typically doesn't penetrate very deeply.
Does the increase in Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere effect storms or lightening? This is in conjunction with erjet's question. No, there's no documented effect at this point. How dangerous can lighting be to aircraft? In particular passenger jets? On average, every passenger airliner triggers lightning once a year, usually on take-off or landing, and survives quite nicely!
We've got time for a few last questions Hi, I'm an student in engineering and found this to be very interesting! Thank you very much - we've enjoyed it! Is there such a thing as heat lightning? It's regular lightning that occurs too far away to hear thunder.
This typically happens in the summer, hence the term heat lightning. Sometimes distant heat lighting can also be called "sheet lightning. Some people call that ribbon lighting. Since airplanes are faraday cages, the people inside would be safe from lightning in a thunderstorm, right? Yes, electronics on a plane can be damaged. Most aircraft that are metallic are safe. Yes we were on the porch. It might have been that if the fence was metal, it might have vaporized some of the material, then those ions blew toward you.
He's always saying something and encouraging us to ask! He's here and busy behind the scenes. Is there a way to visually distinguish a positive lightning strike from a negative lightning strike? You can measure it, but not visually. They say lightning travels in a line relative to the storm called the lightning line.
We've never heard that term. We get a lot of lightning storms here in Glasgow, Scotland, but it's hardly a warm climate, so no idea why! Not warm, but you get "orographic lifting" - that's when the wind hits the cliffs and is pushed up. Of course, you have plenty of moisture! Do you enjoy Lightning Storms? Middle School student from Massachusetts! Does lightning only occur in cumulonimbus clouds??
No, it can happen in many types of clouds - nimbostratus, for example. But cumulonimbus are the largest producers. Can lightning strike through windows? Wouldn't this make a car a little unsafe from lightning?03-18-2018 Denver Co. Thunder Snow, Heavy Snow and Lightning
It won't strike through a car window. Only will strike through a house window if there's something giving it a path wires, etc. I want to thank Jason behinds the scenes for his great job! He's always supporting during chats. Three cheers for Jason! As the crystals fall from the cold clouds, they bump into other crystals and freeze together, making even more shapes.
In fact, in air right at the freezing mark, several snowflakes may stick together, forming large clumps of flakes that may melt as they hit the ground. To get a look at the different shapes of snowflakes, try this: Put a piece of black construction paper or black velvet into the freezer. Keep it there until the next time it snows. When the snow begins falling, grab a magnifying glass and take the paper or velvet outside.
Let some of the snowflakes land on the dark surface and examine them with the magnifying glass. What is a Blue Norther?
This can result in brisk north or northwest winds and rapidly falling temperatures. When the front moves through, temperatures can drop as much as twenty degrees in just a few minutes. Is there any science behind this? Julie Bellevue, NE Julie, When temperatures are just a little above freezing near the ground, the falling snowflakes are already melting on the way down.
The wet snowflakes stick together, forming gigantic flakes that look scary, but in fact, are less likely to cause problems than the smaller flakes. In fact, the biggest ones may melt as soon as they hit the ground or soon after, as temperatures continue to rise. When the air is colder, the snowflakes are smaller because they're not sticking together. And when it is very cold, the snow can sometimes be very small, like tiny needles instead of the familiar six-sized flake.
So when it comes to snowflakes, be more concerned about the small ones and don't sweat the big stuff! I hear meteorologists talking about lake effect snow all the time on TV. Can you tell me what it is? Anywhere you have a relatively warm and large body of water such as one of the Great Lakes and cold air blowing across the water, you can get this kind of snow. When cold air from Canada blows over the Great Lakes, moisture from the warmer lake water rises, cools and condenses into clouds.
The direction of the wind determines where the snow will fall. Lake effect snow occurs over salt water too. I know they say that no two snowflakes are alike, but that doesn't seem mathematically possible to me.
If we have four billion snowflakes, odds are two of those will look alike. And some of the smaller needle or column-shaped flakes that fall in very cold air are shaped simply enough that they may all look alike. It just means the odds are against you finding them. In a cloud, a tiny ice crystal forms around a speck of dust. As water droplets freeze to and become part of the ice crystal, the crystal develops six sides.
At this point, most of the ice crystals still look the same. But as more moisture is drawn into the crystal, it grows. Then as branches sprout from each of its six corners, it starts to look like a traditional snowflake.
Snowflakes are blown around inside a cloud taking each one in a slightly different path, each encountering slightly different temperature and moisture conditions. So as the six branches on the flakes grow bigger and longer, they look more and more different from one another.
As one flake bumps into another, and as they absorb more moisture, their appearance may change even further. Why does it seem the temperature drops as the sun is coming up in the morning? Meaning it gets colder than when it was dark? So as the sky begins to brighten in the morning and the temperature remains nearly the same, we might perceive that it is colder than it actually is.
Also, wind generally increases during the day. The air sometimes begins to stir just after sunrise, and an increase in wind would make us feel colder.
If there are no fronts or precipitation nearby, the daily temperature cycle is primarily controlled by the radiation budget. Think of the sunlight shining down on earth as the same as putting pennies into a jar. As long as you keep putting pennies in, the money adds up.
In the same way, as long as the sun is shining down on earth, the amount of radiation adds up. Likewise, when the sun goes down, the incoming radiation from the sun stops, but there is still a lot of radiation that has been absorbed by the earth, so we still feel heat near the earth even after the sun goes down.
How can it be so cold even when the sun is shining? Benjamin SherwoodAR Sunshine is only one thing that affects temperature, and in winter, it is far from being the main thing.
In winter and even in early spring, cold air can come southward from northern Canada. So sometimes in winter, skies are very clear and temperatures are very cold. Also, winter is the time of year that the angle of the sun, especially in the northern U.
And if there's snow on the ground, the snow reflects a lot of the sun's energy away, preventing the ground from absorbing it. So temperatures end up cooler than if the ground were bare. Our question is this: Can it rain at 26 degrees? Or at any temperature below 32 F for that matter?
Your help is greatly appreciated to settle our debate. Nicole Nicole, The falling precipitation could be rain at 26 F, but if it is liquid before it hits the ground, chances are that it would freeze as soon as it hits something, like the ground, or streets or trees.
Water drops can remain liquid in our atmosphere even at temperatures below freezing. In these cases, the clouds form as tiny liquid drops, even though the air temperature is below 32 F. Sometimes the drops grow large enough to become freezing drizzle at the ground, or liquid drizzle if there is warm air below. Or it might even be crunchy round snow pellets if the air is very cold below the cloud. In thicker clouds, rain usually starts as snow, which melts on the way down to turn to rain.
If it never melts, you get snow. If it melts, then re-freezes in a layer of sub-freezing air closer to the ground, you get sleet. If the layer of cold air is very shallow, you can get freezing rain as described above. If that layer of sub-freezing air is very shallow and hasn't been around long enough to make the ground freeze, you'll get rain until the surfaces fall below freezing. We live in Northwest Indiana, and we've had an unusually warm winter.
What are some possible reasons for the unseasonably warm weather. What effects could the warm weather have on spring storms, wildlife, insect populations, and plants. Almost the entire country has experienced warmer than average winter temperatures. And for some people, especially those in the northeast United States, the months of December through February have been the warmest on record, which go back about years.
Snows have been lighter than usual, and the Great Lakes have stayed free of ice cover. I am sure that scientists will be studying the winter of for some time to come, analyzing what made this season so warm. Only then will we have a more detailed idea of all the factors involved.
In the winter, the jet stream is partially responsible for transporting cold arctic air from Canada into the United States. You have probably seen the jet stream pictured on a weather map, looking like a wavy line extending across the country.
In order to bring that air southward, the jet stream has to move northward far enough to tap that air, then dip southward, bringing that cold air down into the United States. Another factor is the lack of snow cover. Because much of the ground has remained free of snow this winter, temperatures have been warmer than they would have been otherwise.
That late winter cool down was tough on early blooming plants and crops. Nick, Why isn't December 21 the coldest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere? Logic says that due to lack of sunlight, it should be. Steve You are right; the shortest days of the year are, on average, not the coldest, and the longest days are not the warmest.
There are exceptions to this, of course. In the past, there have been some extreme arctic outbreaks within a few days of the winter solstice and for example that in some places brought the coldest weather of the entire season to some parts of the U.
But usually the coldest days come after December and the warmest in July or August. At home, I keep pennies in a jar. Some days I put in more than I take out, and other days I take out more than I put in. For our purposes, the pennies will represent heating from the sun. Around June 21, the greatest amount of heat arrives.
But even after the days start to shorten, the amount of heat coming in is still more than the amount of heat leaving. Sometime in the late summer, the balance tips the other way and more heat leaves Earth every day than comes in. In the same way, the days start to cool as the amount of incoming heat lessens. But even when the days are growing longer, more heat leaves than arrives every day, so temperatures continue to get colder until late winter or early spring when the process begins again.
Nick Why can we get rain at 30 degrees and snow at 40 degrees? That doesn't seem to make sense. David White Sulphur Springs, WV David, It makes sense only when you consider that as precipitation falls from a cloud to the ground, it travels through several layers of air at different temperatures. Almost all precipitation begins as snow, as ice crystals in clouds absorb super-cooled water droplets small liquid droplets in cloudsand grow big and heavy enough to fall from the cloud.
As long as the air temperature is below freezing on the way to the ground, the precipitation will stay in snow form. Often, the layer of below-freezing air reaches near the ground, but not quite. So even if the temperature at the ground is above freezing, the flakes may not have time to melt in the distance from the freezing air to the ground. It is possible for this shallow warm layer to be degrees warmer or more than the freezing temperature a short distance above.
As you said, sometimes you get rain even when temperatures on the ground are below freezing. This happens when there is a layer of air whose temperature is above freezing somewhere between the clouds and the ground. In that warmer air, the snowflakes melt to raindrops on the way down. But at ground level, temperatures may be colder, even below freezing. Nick Where is the coldest place in the United States? Baloga, This is a hard question to answer, since not every place in the country has a regular weather station that records temperature every day of the year.
And that takes into account the summer as well as winter months! In the lower 48 states, the coldest regular reporting station is International Falls, Minnesota. On January 23, the recorded temperature was 80 degrees below zero! How cold is snow? Since snow is frozen precipitation, its temperature is below freezing. If snowflakes fall through air whose temperature is above 32 degrees F 0 degrees Cthen the flakes will melt and become raindrops.
In fact, most rain actually starts out as snow, which melts on the way down. But have you noticed that there are many different shapes of snowflakes? That is because a snowflake is usually made of many different kinds of snow crystals, and the shape of a snow crystal depends a lot on the temperature at which it forms.
Usually the colder the temperature, the smaller the crystals. How can it lightning and snow at the same time? But it can happen. Some winter storm systems with very cold air in the higher atmosphere can pull in enough warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to provide the instability for thunderstorms. And when very cold air passes over a large unfrozen body of water such as the Great Lakes, the relatively warmer water in the lake can help create the necessary instability for thundersnow.
Several years ago I saw several flashes of lightning as snow was falling in Seattle. Just as thunderstorms can produce heavy downpours of rain, thundersnow storms are known for producing several inches of snow in a short time.
What is the difference between a 'snow flurry' and a 'snow shower'? You may get a quick inch of snow or rain, but a short distance away there may be no precipitation at all. On the other hand, flurries are very light showers of snow, usually brief and usually so light that there is no accumulation. Nick, I have heard it said that fog takes away snow more quickly than rain or sunshine. Is this true and if so - why?
I am a home schooling mother and would like to be able to teach this to my children. He tells me that there is some truth to that "fog melts snow faster than rain or sunshine. If the overall air temperature a few feet above the snow is the same, foggy conditions will melt more snow than sunny conditions. The energy for melting the snow comes from the air and its contents fog droplets, raindrops.
On a sunny day, when the relative humidity is low, the air can cool to a temperature below freezing. With the lowered air temperature, less snow melts. When skies are clear there tends to be a large swing between daytime and nighttime temperatures. If the snow is dirty, there can be significant melting during the daytime, but refreezing at night. In foggy conditions, there is little fluctuation in temperature between day and night, so melting can proceed around the clock. But the time of year may throw a monkey wrench into argument.
In December when the sun angle is low and nights are long especially in northern latitudes the sun might not melt the snow very fast. But in the South and elsewhere in March, the sun can be a real snow-eater, with shady areas hanging on to the snow but sunny areas getting bare quickly. How does fog melt snow? This slows the rate that the air cools. Also, some of the energy of the above-freezing fog droplets helps melt the snow. The melting from rain versus fog is a hard one to determine.
If it is rain forming higher in the atmosphere and falling into a dry layer near the ground, then rain may evaporate in that drier air and cool. In that case, fog would be more effective in melting the snow than the rain. But if the rain is warm and the near-ground relative humidity is high, then the rain is likely to cause more melting than just fog. One other factor can reduce the snow pack without melting.
In dry, windy conditions, the snow can just "evaporate" from ice crystals to water vapor. Where in the world are people affected by Lake Effect Snow? On the other side of the world, arctic air from Siberia blows over the warm waters of the Sea of Japan, causing snow to fall on the western coasts of some of the Japanese islands.
The same type of snow has been reported in Korea off the Yellow Sea. Sometimes the Scandinavian countries see snow as cold air flows from the east down the Gulf of Finland. Something that might interest you is that even though we had a relatively warm winter this year, there were some massive lake effect snow totals. This is partly because the warm weather caused warmer than average water temperatures in the winter and kept the Great Lakes from freezing over as winter progressed.
Late December to early January saw a long-lasting lake effect snow event. And Marquette, Michigan on Lake Superior saw more than inches of snow this past winter, the most ever recorded. Hi Nick, I want to know the answer to this question because my brother-in-law says one thing and we say another. Where do lakes freeze first?