The old weather Wiz

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The hurricane part 1

Today we are going to examine another deadly storm.  Very different from the tornado…. The hurricane. 

A hurricane is huge.  Unlike the tornado, a hurricane can measure 600-700 miles in diameter.  Winds near the center of the storm can reach speeds up to 200 miles an hour.  Whereas a tornado lives on land, a hurricane can only form and survive over warm ocean waters.  In the center of a hurricane is an eye.  In the eye, winds are calm or very light, the sky above is clear.  The diameter of the eye can vary greatly, sometimes measuring only a few miles in diameter to as much as 30-40 miles.  While the winds around the eye swirl at 75 to 200 miles an hour, the storm itself usually has a forward speed of only 12-25 miles an hour.

So, let’s see how these storms form, when and where.  For a hurricane to form, it must be, of course, over the ocean.  The ocean water must be at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit but it should be warmer.  Hurricanes cannot form on the equator because there is no Coriolis force at the equator. It is the Coriolis force that causes the spin in the hurricane. As a result, hurricanes generally form 5-15 degrees north or south latitude from the equator.

When is the hurricane season?  In the Atlantic Ocean, the season starts June 1st and ends November 30th.  
In the Pacific Ocean the season starts May 15th and ends November 30th.

Let’s go through the stages in development of a hurricane.  In the Atlantic, these storms usually start out as a weak low pressure system that drifts westward with the trade winds.  We call this a tropical wave. After a few days, this area gets better organized, thunderstorms containing heavy rains and gusty winds expand.  We now call this area a tropical depression.  As further development takes place and the winds exceed 38 miles an hour, we now label this as a tropical storm.  If this area continues to strengthen, it will be upgraded to a hurricane when the winds reach 75 miles an hour.  Hurricanes can and do continue to strengthen.  There is a scale to measure the strength of a hurricane. It is called the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.  The weakest hurricane, a category 1 hurricane, has winds between 75 and 95 miles per hour. A category 2 hurricane has winds of 96 to 110 mph.  Category 3 exhibits winds of 111 to 130 mph.  These storms cause extensive damage.  When the winds reach speeds of 131 to 155 mph, the storm is deemed a category 4 hurricane and the damage is extreme.  Hurricanes with winds over 155 miles per hour are labeled category 5 hurricanes.  These storms do catastrophic damage.

One might think most lives are lost during hurricanes because of the strong winds.  While some lives may be lost as a result of winds, it is water associated with hurricanes that cause the most deaths. As winds spiral around the storm they push water into a mound at the storms center.  As the storm’s center approaches land, it is this mound of water that rushes ashore causing devastating floods.  A surge of 18-20 ft. of water is not out of the question.  This wall of water can knock down buildings, and sweep people out to sea. It is called the storm surge; it is the real killer.  And lately, as scientists delve deeper into the nature of hurricanes, they are finding more and more unusual occurrences.  For example, scientists are now discovering that when hurricanes come ashore, they spawn tornadoes.  Sometimes many, many tornadoes.  We know the damage tornadoes can do.  So, in addition to the flooding and wind damage normally associated with hurricanes, we can now add tornado damage to hurricanes.
In order to identify hurricanes better, in 1953, the United States weather bureau began naming hurricanes. They gave hurricanes women’s names.  Until 1979, only women’s names were used.  In 1980, they decided to alternate men’s and women’s names.  If a hurricane becomes infamous causing great damage and loss of life, that name is permanently retired, never of course, to be used again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


This week I would like to venture into a situation that can be very costly both in property and loss of life.   Let’s examine the tornado.  This is usually a rather small storm, but extremely violent. Tornadoes generally affect an area only, perhaps, a mile wide.  However, it can move along the earth for many miles, affecting all those located in its path.  Tornadoes usually develop from severe thunderstorms. Generally, the scenario goes like this.  Hot and humid air exists in the Gulf States.  Cold air comes racing south from Canada.  Meanwhile, dry air is filtering into the area from the west, coming down slope from the Rocky Mountains.  The mixture of hot moist air with cold dry air plus in infusion of air from the west makes the atmosphere extremely unstable.  First, the severe thunderstorm, then the spinning funnel appears.  Some funnels never touch the ground, others do. Much study is being devoted to the dreaded tornado.  Great advances have been made, but still much is unknown.

Now during the month of February tornadoes begin affecting the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico.  As March and April approach, tornadoes begin to develop in the Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska area and surrounding states.  Come the months of May and June, it is common to see tornadoes ripping across the landscapes of Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota, even the Dakotas.  It is safe to say, however, very few places in the United States never experience a tornado. 

During the spring and summer, it is not out of the question that a tornado touches down in the northeast.  Unlike the tornadoes in the Gulf States and the mid west (tornado alley), tornadoes in the northeast are usually of very short duration.  Some funnels just skim the ground, other remain on the ground only for a few minutes.  Tornadoes out west, where the ground is flat, can stay alive for an hour or more, causing devastation everywhere in its path.  Some tornadoes travel for hundreds of miles, knocking down huge trees, telephone poles, wires, throwing cars and trucks around like they were toys, even flattening buildings. Many people living in areas that are prone to tornadoes construct storm cellars in order to survive.

Stories about tornadoes are quite common. Unfortunately, many of them are true.  We hear about a baby being ripped from a mother’s arms and found a few blocks away with only a few scratches and bruises.  We hear of cars and huge trucks being carried high in the sky and being whirled around in the funnel, finally coming back down to earth as the tornado weakens.  One man went into his storm cellar and his dog was following.  As the tornado went overhead, the dog was sucked out of the cellar into the tornado.  The dog was never seen again.

So what should you do if a tornado is heading for your area and you do not have a storm cellar?  Cars are not safe.  Holding on to a tree is no solution.  The best thing one can do is finding a structure.  If you are close to home, get into your house.  If you have a cellar, go down into the cellar and stay away from windows.  If your house has no cellar, and many do not, get to the center of the house …again, away from windows. If you can, get on the floor, perhaps under a bed.  Some have suggested get into the bathtub and if possible cover yourself with something to protect yourself from falling objects. Do not, I repeat, do not go outside to take pictures of the tornado.  Many a life has been lost doing that.

Next week I will discuss another killer storm, the dreaded hurricane. When does it occur? Where does it occur? And how does it usually kill.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Spring Rain


Spring is here and for the eastern half of the country it has been some winter.  Very cold into the deep south and plenty of snow up north.  The sun is now advancing slowly northward and hot weather will be upon us. Hello to another weather phenomenon, the thunderstorm.  We are all familiar with thunderstorms, heavy rain, gusty winds, lightning, thunder and even sometimes hail.  Let’s take a closer look at a thunderstorm and see what causes it. 

Basically you need heat, cold and moisture.  Specifically, very warm or hot air at the surface, plenty of moisture available and a very important ingredient cold air in the upper atmosphere.  When it is hot at the surface and cold aloft, we say the atmosphere is unstable.  So, here We go…on a hot summer afternoon, surface temperature readings in the 90’s, the surface air is very moist, the air begins to rise.  As long as this Parcel of air is warmer than the air surrounding it, the air will continue to rise.  As this air rises higher in the sky, the upper air surrounding the parcel continues to be colder and colder.  This causes the air to continue to rise.

 The air will rise until the air surrounding this parcel is the same temperature as the parcel.  If, however, the upper atmosphere is cold all the way up to 60,000-70,000 ft. The parcel will rise that high.  Also, remember the surface air contained a great deal of moisture.  Well, air is like a sponge, warm air can hold a large amount of moisture, however, as the air gets colder, it is like squeezing the Sponge.  Water is released,  if you squeeze the sponge quickly, a great deal of water is released at once….a Heavy downpour.  So, in general, rising air causes clouds and precipitation because rising air expands and cools  and can not hold as much moisture as warm air can. That explains the rainfall during a thunderstorm…what about the lightning and thunder?  Let’s forget mathematics etc and explain these features in a very down to earth fashion.   In a thunderhead cloud, also called a cumulonimbus cloud, there is plenty of water vapor.  Water, as you know, is h20

Two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.  Hydrogen has an electrical charge of plus one.  Since there are two hydrogen atoms, it has a plus two Charge.  However, oxygen has a negative charge, a minus 2 charge.  So, when you combine two hydrogen (+2) with one oxygen (-2), you get water.

With a zero charge.  In a thunderhead cloud there are tremendous up and down drafts of air.  Planes flying through a thunderhead would be damaged severely if not destroyed completely.  Anyway, these up and down drafts of air rip the water molecules apart.  The h’s are ripped from the (oh’s).  These particles are now charged.  The (oh) has a negative charge while the “h” has a positive charge.  The positive charges accumulate at the top of the cloud while the negative charges are found at the base of the cloud.  Beneath the cloud, positive charges prevail.  Since opposites attract, the positive and negatives try to interact.  As the storm system moves along, the positive charges on the ground follow along.  Finally, when A high object appears in the storm’s    path, the positive charges climb up the high object, be it a tree, a hill, a tall building.   The negative charge and the positive charge are now closer together and there is less resistance between them. 
A huge spark occurs when the charges comes together.  We call this lightning.  Lightning can go from cloud to ground, we call this cloud to ground lightning.  Sometimes lightning goes from one cloud to another cloud and does not strike the ground.  We call this cloud to cloud lightning.  Next week i will talk more about lightning , a few safety measures and then discuss thunder and hail.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hurricane section added has added a Hurricane section where we give you links to past Hurricanes, present and developing Hurricanes and our very unique exclusive Hurricane predictions maps! We are predicting 3 major storms this season go to our site to see

Thursday, June 26, 2008

We are adding many cities to our weather forecast.

We are adding many more cities to our international weather forecast

here's the list:
1. Alexandria, Egypt
2. Guatemala City, Guatemala
3. Davoa, Guatemala
4. Cozumel, Mexico
5. Fort De France, Martinique
6. Castries, St. Lucia
7. Cancun, Mexico
8. Punta Arenas, Chile
9. Managua, Nicaragua
10. Port of Spain, Trinidad
11. Wellington, New Zealand
12. Kyoto, Japan
13. Rhodes, Greece
14. Riga, Latvia
15. Kingston, Jamaica
16. La Paz, Bolivia
17. Osaka, Japan
18. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
19. Cairns, Australia
20. Cusco, Peru
21. Christchurch, New Zealand
22. Auckland, New Zealand
23. Nice, France
24. Phuket, Thailand
25. Quito, Ecuador
26. Seoul, South Korea
27. Pisa, Italy
28. San Jose, Costa Rica
29. Amman, Jordan
30. Hanoi, Viet Nam
31. Saigon, Viet Nam
32. Cairo, Egypt
33. Lima Peru
34. Hamilton, Bermuda
35 Oranjestad, Aruba
36. Juliana Airport, St Maartin

In addition, we have filled in any missing precipitation data so people canget a better idea of what to expect when they arrive at their destination.
Precipitation data completed for these additional cities:
1. San Juan, Puerto Rico
2. Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
3. Ponce, Puerto Rico
4. Danville, Ky
5. Traverse City, Mi
6. Austin, Tx
7. San Antonio, Tx
8. Ithaca, N.Y.
9. Lufkin, Tx
10. Waterloo, Ia
11. Barrow, Ak
12. Alpena, Mi
13. Wichita Falls, Tx
14. Gettysburg, Pa
15. San Marcos, Tx
16. Bennington, Vt
17. St Johns bury, Vt
18. St. Croix, Virgin Islands
19. St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Weather Wiz is operational

Our new web site TheWeatherWiz.Com is operational
Planning a trip?...
A party or a special event? Have you ever wondered what the weather will be? Let the Weather Wiz help you pick THE BEST WEATHER date!A record 83 per cent accuracy since 1978 and higher accuracy in the last 10 years. It's easy, fast AND FREE. Just follow the step by step directions below:
Select a country
Select a city
Select a day, month and year