Posts Tagged ‘extreme weather’

How Do Tornadoes Work?

May 10, 2011

Tornadoes destroy homes and scar the earth.  They can reach speeds of up to 318 miles per hour and measure miles across.  These vicious storms are a crazy sight to see, but how do they work?  Tornadoes develop out of thunderstorms, but it takes a special type of thunderstorm to produce a tornado.  These storms are called supercell thunderstorms, which produce strong updrafts.

Given the number of tornadoes that have struck the United States months before tornado season usually begins, let's step back and understand how these storm systems work.If the updraft is strong enough, a vortex of air can develop.  When the updraft of the storm strengthens, the horizontal rotating air can be tilted into the vertical, with the help of inflow winds.  The storm cloud’s base will lower and form a wall cloud if the rotating air is strong enough.  Should the air’s rotation strengthen further, a funnel cloud can form.  If the rotation remains strong and the funnel cloud eventually reaches the ground, a tornado is born.  Tornado warnings can be scary, but you should go to a safe place immediately, particularly a basement or an underground structure built to keep you safe from a tornado.  Make sure you prepare a disaster kit for you and your family months before tornado season starts.

Watch the video below to see the different types of tornadoes that can form.

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Taylor P.

Three Storms: The Perfect Storm?

April 21, 2011

Extreme weather has affected three states in as many regions of the United States.  In the East Coast, North Carolina was hit by a tornado, while Texas wildfires scorched the Southwest, and a cold snap in the Midwest caused snow to fall in Michigan.  The tornado in North Carolina killed twenty-two people and damaged or destroyed more than 800 homes.  Meanwhile, wildfires have scorched Texas for days, consuming over a million acres and making the situation critical in the Lone Star State.  So far, 110 homes have been destroyed and hundreds more could be threatened.  In Michigan, record-breaking snow fell this April, bringing about seven to nine inches of wet, heavy snow, which has bent trees, snapped power lines and shut down schools throughout the Wolverine State.

April 2011 has been marked by extreme weather. Tornadoes ravaged North Carolina and the southeastern United States. A springtime snowfall has covered Michigan and the Midwest. Wildfires have scorched Texas. Is the country in the eye of the perfect storm?Can the tornado, wildfire and snowfall be related to one storm?  I believe that these storms could be related.  The cold front from the north can send tornadoes ripping throughout other regions.  April 2011 is said to go down as a record month for tornadoes.  The heavy drought in Texas may be due to the same cold front headed towards the east instead of the south, resulting in the spread of wildfires throughout the state.  The best thing you can do to prepare for these natural disasters is to have safety kits in your house and an emergency plan.  Don’t forget to set aside food and water that will last for at least two weeks.

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Taylor P.


Thought the weather couldn’t get any more intense? Think again.

January 26, 2011

Please retweetI’ve lived in California my whole life, so just hearing about the winter weather in other parts of the country makes me feel cold.  Many of you have probably heard about the freezing temperatures in the Northeastern United States the morning of January 24, 2011.  With minus 27 degree temperatures, residents in the Northeast avoided going out unless it was absolutely necessary.  Some schools either delayed opening for classes or avoided opening altogether.  Some skiers turned down the offer of skiing on the new blanket of snow, choosing not to risk injury and avoid a trip to the hospital.  Temperatures will feel as cold as minus 50 degrees due to the wind chill.  There are many warnings for citizens to stay inside to avoid frostbite and other winter-related dangers.

Thought the weather in 2010 couldn’t get anymore intense?  The wild weather of 2010 is predicted to continue into 2011.Weather in the United States seems to be getting more intense, especially this past year.  According to meteorologist, Paul Yeager, 2010 was the year with the most dramatic weather in recent memory.  It started off with a widespread cold snap leading to a major tornado outbreak in April.  A ferocious hurricane season kicked off the summer in the East Coast while here in the Los Angeles area, we were experiencing some of the highest temperatures on record.  There are many theories as to why the climate keeps changing such as global warming, the end of times, etc.  Instead of trying to figure out this weather mystery, we should just get prepared.  It has been predicted that we are in for an even rougher winter and brutal summer in 2011, so get those swimsuits ready but don’t forget your coats!

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Joie Montoya

How to Drive in Snowy and Icy Conditions

February 11, 2010

As I watch the news about the recent snowstorms that have struck the East Coast, I wondered how people could manage to drive on snow-covered or icy roads.

Follow these tips if you must drive in snowy or icy conditions.Obviously, if possible, just stay home and avoid driving in such conditions.  Make use of public transportation as well, provided that services have not been shut down.  If you must drive in snowy conditions, however, follow the tips in the owner’s manual of your car specific to your vehicle as well as the following:

Driving safely on icy roads

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop.  You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding.  If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first.  Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks.  The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  9. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions.  Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.


By the way, the YouTube video, below, show what you should not do when driving on icy and snow-covered roads.

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Francis M. Unson