This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Clouds typically form when air rises. y Rising motion can be associated with convection in unstable air, lifting of air over topography (mountains), or lifting of air by fronts. y When air rises, the air's temperature cools and may reach its dewpoint temperature, at which point it becomes saturated. y Once saturation is reached, condensation occurs and the water vapor in the air will condense into tiny water droplets. As millions of droplets form, a cloud will begin to take shape.
Clouds are classified by their height (high, middle, low, or vertically developing), physical appearance and whether they produce precipitation.
Here are a few Latin roots that are helpful when identifying cloud types: "cirro": high, 'curl of hair' "alto": 'middle' "stratus": layer, sheet-like, low "cumulus": heap-like, puffy "nimbus": clouds producing precipitation Combinations of these Latin roots are used to describe the most common types of clouds (i.e. a cirrostratus cloud is one that is high and layered).
High Clouds Cirrus, Cirrostratus, Cirrocumulus y High level clouds form above 20,000 feet (6000 meters). y Since they form high in the atmosphere, high clouds are composed of ice crystals, due to the cold temperatures in this part of the atmosphere. y High-level clouds are typically thin and white in appearance, but may display an array of colors when the sun is low on the horizon. y They get their wispy shape from the high speed winds
that occur at those altitudes. .
000 feet (2000 to 6000 meters). they can be composed of ice crystals since the temperatures are cold enough. they are primarily composed of water droplets.500 to 20.Mid-Level Clouds Altostratus. y Since these clouds are located lower in the atmosphere. Altocumulus y Mid-level clouds typically have bases between 6. y In the cold season. .
they may contain some ice particles and snow. . Stratocumulus. if the temperatures are cold enough.500 feet (2000 meters).Low Clouds Stratus. Nimbostratus y Low clouds typically have bases below 6. On occasion. y These clouds are located low in the atmosphere and are mostly composed of water droplets.
They can contain both liquid droplets and ice particles because they cover a large depth of the troposphere.000 feet (12. Cumulonimbus .000 meters). With the right conditions.Vertically Developing Clouds Some clouds can span the depth of the troposphere and therefore cannot be classified as high. Cumulus clouds are characterized by a flat base and can grow to heights exceeding 39. these are the clouds that become powerful thunderstorms. These clouds are classified as vertically developing. Cumulus. middle or low.
.Thunderstorms Thunderstorms are cumulonimbus clouds that produce thunder and lightning. The greatest occurrence of thunderstorms occur in the southeastern United States. These regions frequently have all the necessary conditions for thunderstorm formation. The figure below shows the average number of days that thunderstorms occur over the United States. with a secondary maximum over the Colorado Rockies.
Instability 3. such as the Gulf of Mexico. Moisture 2.In order for a thunderstorm to form. Atlantic Ocean or Pacific Ocean. y Typical moisture sources are large bodies of water. y The southeastern United States can tap into moisture from two of these sources (Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean). A Lifting Mechanism Sources of Moisture Moisture is very important in thunderstorm formation because it "fuels" the thunderstorm. . This is one reason why this region has the greatest frequency of thunderstorms in the United States. three "ingredients" must be present: 1.
. y Air is most likely to be unstable when warm.Instability y Air is said to be unstable if it continues to rise after being given a slight "push" upward. air needs to be unstable. dry air is present aloft. air is considered to be stable if it returns to its original position after being "pushed" upward. y Conversely. moist air is present at the surface and cold. y In order for thunderstorms to develop.
As condensation occurs. Eventually. moist air rises and cools. Towering Cumulus Stage y The first stage is the towering cumulus stage. updrafts keep the water droplets and ice crystals suspended in the cloud. During this stage. keeping the air inside the cloud warmer than the air around it. Locations where these three"ingredients" come together are most likely to experience a thunderstorm. condensation is a warming process).Lifting Mechanism Another ingredient that must be present is a lifting mechanism to give the air the initial "push" upward. or occluded fronts). and generally no lightning. This life cycle generally lasts one to two hours. or thunder during this stage. y Air can also be lifted as it flows over hills or mountains. or growth stage. large raindrops and even small hail begin to form. There are several ways in which air can be lifted. stationary. This keeps the air unstable and allows the cloud to keep growing vertically. it warms the air (remember. The warm. eventually condensing into a cumulus cloud. y Lifting primarily occurs along fronts (cold. Stages of a Ordinary (Non-Severe) Thunderstorm Many non-severe thunderstorms go through a life cycle consisting of three distinct stages. As the cloud builds to altitudes where the temperature is below freezing. There is no precipitation. warm. the raindrops and small hail become heavy enough that the updraft .
and evaporation and cooling of air near the cloud boundaries.cannot keep them suspended in the cloud and they begin to fall as precipitation. creates a downdraft. . These falling particles. which signifies the beginning of the next stage.
heavy rain and possibly small hail are produced during this stage. . This signifies the beginning of the next stage. that it reaches a stable part of the atmosphere (possibly the stratosphere) and cannot grow any higher. thunder. Lightning. y During this stage. it eventually begins to dissipate. The cloud grows so high. updrafts and a downdrafts are present and the thunderstorm is at its most intense state. y Sometime after the storm enters its mature stage. The top of the cloud spreads out and forms an anvil shape.Mature Stage y The appearance of downdrafts marks the beginning of the mature stage.
the updrafts weaken and the downdrafts dominate the thunderstorm. . moist air the thunderstorm usually does not last much longer. y Without the warm.Dissipating Stage y In the final stage.
000 tornadoes occur in the United States each year.y Tornadoes A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that originates within a thunderstorm and is in contact with the ground. Tornadoes often only last a few minutes. but it is possible for tornadoes to last over an hour and travel many miles. Around 1. More tornadoes strike the central United States than any other place in the world. so this region has earned the nickname "tornado .
Tornadoes typically form in association with supercell thunderstorms. Speed Shear Directional Wind Shear .alley. Supercell thunderstorms are characterized by a single." The peak of tornado season occurs between April and June. A supercell thunderstorm is a special type of thunderstorm that can persist for several hours due to its organized internal structure. rotating updraft.
y The term "funnel cloud" is used to describe a region of strong rotation where the circulation has not reached the ground yet. Funnel Cloud Tornado Dissipating Tornado . although very large tornadoes are almost always quite destructive. y One sign that the circulation has reached the ground and has become a tornado is that dust and debris on the ground will begin to rotate. y The funnel becomes visible when water vapor begins to condense into liquid droplets. The size and/or shape of the tornado is not always a measure of its strength. Tornadoes will gradually lose strength and take on a ropelike appearance.
was developed by Dr.Tornado Classification Tornadoes are classified according to the damage they cause. 2007. which is assessed after-the-fact. This new scale uses Degree of Damage Indicators. y Due to these potential problems with the Fujita Scale. A different assessment may be made based on who is assessing the damage. the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale will be implemented on February 1. The original scale. There are some apparent problems with the F-Scale. Another problem is the structural integrity of buildings may vary. called the Fujita (F) Scale. a new scale. in order to get a more realistic estimate of a tornado's winds. which is related to their wind speed. This can be a problem because the damage site might be altered before it is assessed. One problem is that it is subjective. One last problem is that the damage assessment is completed after-the-fact. Fujita in the 1960s. . A tornado's wind speeds are estimated based on the damage caused by the storm.
Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale Scale Category Wind Possible Damage Speed Light: tree branches 65-85 broken. car thrown or overturned Incredible: houses may be lifted off foundation. sign boards mph damaged 86110 mph Moderate: trees snapped. structures the size of automobiles can be thrown over 100 meters. mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned. weak structures destroyed Severe: some roofs torn off framed houses. steel-reinforced buildings highly damaged F0 Weak F1 Weak F2 Strong 111135 mph 136165 mph 166200 mph F3 Strong F4 Violent F5 Violent >200 mph . windows broken Significant: large trees snapped or uprooted. trees leveled Devastating: roofs and some walls torn off well constructed houses.
Tropical Cyclone Classification y An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms in the tropics with a defined circulation. with sustained winds exceeding 74 mph.Hurricanes y Hurricanes are tropical cyclones that have an organized circulation. and in the Indian Ocean they are called cyclones. while in the Western Pacific they are called typhoons. . y Hurricanes develop over tropical waters. y Tropical cyclones forming in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific are called hurricanes. and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph or less is called a "tropical depression".
considerable damage to shrubbery and trees. Some structural damage to small residences. trees and all signs blown down. it is called a "tropical storm. foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down. shrubs. 1 2 96-110 mph 3 111-130 mph 4 131-155 mph 5 Severe window and door damage.y Once a tropical depression has sustained winds of at least 39 mph. extensive roof >155 mph damage to residences and industrial buildings. y Hurricanes are classified by their wind speeds using the SaffirSimpson Scale. some . Extensive damage to doors. shrubbery. y A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when it reaches maximum sustained winds of 74 mph. Some damage to roofs of buildings. and trees. mobile homes destroyed. and complete destruction of mobile homes. with some trees blown down and major damage to mobile homes." This is when a tropical cyclone is assigned a name. windows and roofs. Saffir-Simpson Scale Category Wind Speed 74-95 mph Damage Damage mainly to unanchored mobile homes.
The air then moves out at the top of the cyclone in the opposite direction. and the rainbands. Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4 Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Structure The main parts of a tropical cyclone are the eye. The air rises in the eyewall. Air near the surface spirals in towards the center and rotates counterclockwise around the storm center in the northern hemisphere (clockwise in the southern hemisphere). . the eyewall. and in the spiral rainbands.complete building failures with small buildings blown over or away.
The Eye y The eye is located in the center of the storm and is a region of generally clear skies and light winds. but can be larger or smaller depending on the storm. This sinking air actually suppresses cloud formation. the transition from the very strong winds under the eyewall to the near calm conditions in the eye can be deceiving. At the ground. Some people think the storm is over when the eye is passing over. The size of the eye is typically 20-40 miles across. when in fact it is only half over and the dangerous winds on the other side of the eye are still to come. . y The skies are generally clear in the eye because the air is sinking in this region of the hurricane.
.The Eyewall y The eyewall is a wall of deep clouds that produce the torrential rainfall that surrounds the eye of hurricanes. y The strongest winds are found under the eyewall.
) There are seven regions around the world where tropical cyclones form: . they only form over warm. Tropical Cyclone Environments y Since hurricanes need warm waters for development. y Spiral rainbands can produce heavy downpours and wind. tropical oceans. as well as tornadoes. (The Coriolis Force is zero at the equator and increases towards the poles. because the Coriolis Force is weak near the equator and the thunderstorm clusters will not rotate.Rainbands y The clouds and thunderstorms that swirl in toward the storm's center are called spiral rainbands. They rarely form within 5° latitude of the equator.
Winds must not change signficantly between the lower and upper troposphere. Relatively moist air must be present throughout most of the lower troposphere. The storm must form at least 5° latitude north or south of the equator. .y y y y y y y Atlantic Basin (light green) Northeast Pacific Basin (yellow) Northwest Pacific Basin (orange) North Indian Basin (pink) Southwest Indian Basin (purple) Southeast Indian/Australian Basin (blue) Australian/Southwest Pacific Basin (green) The following environmental conditions must be present for a tropical cyclone to develop: y y y y The ocean waters must be warm (at least 80°F / 27°C) to a depth of approximately 150 ft.
heat is released. As water vapor rises. it cools and once saturation is reached. The warm water is one of the most important contributors to tropical cyclone formation because it acts as the "fuel" for the storm.Tropical Cyclone Developmental Process When a cluster of thunderstorms develops or moves into environment described above. the water vapor condenses into liquid water that we see as clouds. more air must move in near the surface to take its place. This warms the atmosphere. During the process of condensation. the disturbance can become more organized. making the air lighter and causing it to rise further. This inflowing air will begin to . As this occurs. which leads to the formation of a tropical depression.
The pressure gradient is directly related to wind speed and the stronger the pressure gradient. signifying strengthening. the faster the wind speed. As the pressure drops in the center of the storm. . the pressure gradient becomes stronger.rotate under the influence of the Coriolis Force.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.