1 00100

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Bi rds • Fl owers
I nsects • Stars
Repti l es and Amphi bi ans
Mammal s
Seashores • Fi shes
Rocks and Mi neral s
Photography ( A GOLDEN HANDBOOK)
Zool ogy • Fossi l s
Sea Shel l s of the Worl d
l N PkFPAkA!lON:
Moths and Butterfies
Non-fowering Pl ants
The Southwest
The Southeast
The Pacific Northwest
Evergl ades Nati onal Park
The Rocky Mountai ns

Meteorol ogi st, Sci enti fc Servi ces Di vi si on
of U. S. Ai r Weat her Service
Professor of Science Education,
University of Illinois
I l l ustrated by HARRY McNAUGHT
Of al l aspects of the natural worl d, weather i s outstand­
i ng i n i t s beauty, its maj esty, i t s terrors, and its conti nual
di rect efect on us al l . Because weather i nvol ves, f or t he
most part, massive movements of i nvisi bl e ai r and i s con­
cerned wi th the temperature and pressure changes of
thi s al most i ntangi bl e substance, most of us have onl y a
l i mited understandi ng of what weather i s al l about. This
book wi l l hel p you to understand i t and al so to under­
stand, i n some degree, how weather changes are pre­
di cted.
I n the di fcul t attempt to portray the weather si mpl y,
accuratel y, and graphical l y we have had i nval uabl e assi st­
ance from col l eagues, experts, and many organi zati ons
whom we grateful l y thank. The U. S. Weather Bureau (i n­
cl udi ng the li brary) hel ped us l i beral l y wi th i nformati on
and photos. Hel pf ul materi al was suppl i ed al so
y the
Smithsoni an I nsti tuti on, the Ameri can Meteorol ogical So­
ci ety and its secretary, Kenneth F. Spengler, the Nati onal
Safety Counci l , Dr. Davi d M. Ludl am of the Frankl i n I nsti­
tute, Lt. John H. Boone ( USAF), and Lt. John F. Mann, Jr .
( USAF) . Berni ce Burnett a- nd Adel e F. Lehr r ead and criti­
ci zed the manuscri pt at various stages. Dr. Vi ncent J .
Schaefer of t he Muni tal p Foundati on exami ned both text
and i l l ustrati ons and ofered much hel pful advi ce.
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heat, pressu re, wi nd, and moi sture . . . Cl ouds
tu re, types, and ori gi ns . . . Rai nmaki ng . . . .
ø . ø Its structure and weather functi on . . . . .
Seasonal changes and the earth's rotati on as
they afect wi nds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48-59
HIGHS AND LOWS Pressure cel l s, thei r wi nds,
and associ ated weather . . . . . . 60-67
AIR MASSES Maj or ai r masses of the worl d,
thei r i denti fcati on, and thei r rol e as a source
·of our weather . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68-76
fronts form, move, and change . . . The ki nds
of weat her associ ated wi t h each type e . . . 77-95
STORMS The ori gi n, devel opment, and efects
of t hunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes 96-111
ments and how they are used i n forecasti ng 112-129
WEATHER MAPS How data are pl otted and
charted • ø ø How to r ead maps and make
your own forecast . ø • « • . . . . . 130-146
condi ti ons worth knowi ng and usi ng day by
day . « ø • . . . . 147-15ó
and magazi nes to read . . . . . . . 157
INDEX 158-1ð0
Dudl ey Warner sai d, " Everybody tal ks about the weather,
but nobody does anyt hi ng about i t. " Everyone, at ti mes,
feel s as Warner di d. The spoi l ed fami l y pi cni c, the
wi thered crops, al l remi nd us how dependent we are on
the weather. That i s why weather is our most common
t opi c of conversati on, a factor i n much of our agri cul tural ,
i ndustri al , and ci vi c pl anni ng, and a constant concern of
Warner was wrong. Somethi ng i s bei ng done. Today
the sci ence of weather-meteorol ogy-i s used to make
our l ives safer and better. Some types of forecasts are
95 per cent accurate. Storms are tracked and warni ngs
are given. Cl ouds are bei ng seeded to cause rai nfal l
where i t i s needed. A network of weather stati ons enabl es
pl anes to fy safel y. A conti nued program of research
reveal s more and more about the weather. Thi s i ntroduc­
ti on to weather wi l l hel p you understand i t.
What Makes the Weather?
Weather i s the condi ti on of the atmosphere in terms of
heat, pressure, wi nd, and moisture. These are the el ements
of whi ch t he weather is made. Where the atmosphere thi ns
to nothi ngness, there is no weather. There i s no weather
on the moon, for i t has no atmosphere. But near the sur­
face of t he earth the atmosphere i s dense and heavy.
Here, i n the l ower atmosphere, you conti nual l y see the
everchangi ng, dramati c, often vi ol ent weather show.
But i t takes more t han ai r to make weather. I f the earth' s
atmosphere were never heated, mi xed, or moved about,
there woul d be no weather-or, more properl y, there
woul d be no changes i n t he weather. There woul d be no
wi nds, no changes i n ai r pressure, no storms, r ai n, or snow.
Heat i s t he spoon that mi xes the atmosphere to make
weather. Al l weather changes are brought about by tem­
perature changes i n diferent parts of t he atmosphere.
THE SUN, source of most of the earth' s heat, is a bal l
of gl owi ng gases, 93 mi l l i on mi l es away. Thi s gi ganti c
atomi c furnace bombards the earth wi th 1 26 tri l l i on horse­
power every second. Yet this vast energy i s but a hal f of
one bi l l i onth of the sun' s total output. Most of thi s sol ar
energy is l ost i n space; traces reach other pl anets. The
sun's energy i s transmitted as waves that are s i mi l ar to
radi o waves. Some of these are vi si bl e l i ght waves; others
are i nvi si bl e. Some, al though not heat waves, change to
heat when absorbed by objects such as soil or our bodi es.
About 43 per cent of the radi ati on reachi ng our pl anet
h its the earth' s surface and i s changed to heat. The rest
stays i n the atmosphere or is refected i nto space.
the di agram above. Thi s is for average weather-that i s,
52 per cent cl oudi ness i n the sky. A typi cal cl oud refects
back i nto space 75 per cent of the s unl i ght stri ki ng i t.
On overcast days, onl y about 25 per cent of the sun's
energy hits the ground. Energy that does reach the
ground is absorbed and refl ected i n varyi ng degrees.
Snow refects about 75 per cent, absorbs only 25 per
cent; thi s partl y accounts for the col d of pol ar regi ons.
Dark forests absorb about 95 per cent of sol ar energy
and change it to heat. Such di ferences i n absorpti o- n and
refecti on account, i n part, f or regi ona l di ferences i n
temperature and cl imate.
dense forests 95%
pl owed fel d 75 to 95%
•  •

i  ' '
Sol ar rays go
through gl ass-
heat rays cannot
A greenhouse "traps" sol ar
radi ati on when . . short"
sol ar rays change to "l ong"
heat rays.
Earth' s atmosphere is l i ke
gl ass. | ¡ l et s sol ar rays
t hrough but keeps most
heat rays from· escapi ng.
The gl ass of a greenhouse lets the
short sol ar rays pass through. These
are absorbed by objects i nsi de and
ar e re-radiated as l ong heat rays.
But these l ong heat rays cannot get
through the gl ass. The heat rays are
conti nual l y re-absorbed and re­
radi ated i nsi de. This hel ps keep the
greenhouse warm on col d days.
Some heat i s l ost by conducti on
through the gl ass.
Li ke a greenhouse, the earth's
atmosphere admits most of the sol ar
radi ati on. When thi s i s absorbed
by the earth' s surface, i t i s re-radi ­
ated as heat waves, most of whi ch
are trapped by water vapor i n the
atmosphere. Thus the eart h i s kept
MOSTAT control s the earth's heat
as automatical l y as i n any heati ng
system. I t protects the earth from
too much sol ar radi ati on duri ng the
day, and screens out dangerous
rays. I t acts as an i nsul ati ng bl an­
ket whi ch keeps most of the heat
fr om escapi ng at night. Wi thout its
thick atmosphere the earth woul d
experi ence temperatures l i ke t he
moon' s. The moon' s surface tem­
perature reaches the poi l i ng poi nt
of water ( 2 1 2 ° Fahrenhei t) duri ng
the two-week l unar day. I t drops t o
238 ° F bel ow zero dur i ng the l ong
l unar ni ght.
The earth cool s faster on bri ght
cl ear ni ghts t han on cl oudy ni ghts,
because an overcast sky refects a
l arge amount of heat back to earth,
where i t i s once agai n re-absorbed .
å w ø ¤ e
Earth has thi ck
night 40
Moon has a very
thin atmosphere.
perature and retards ni ght heat l oss. on a cl ear ni ght more heat escapes.
Convecti on cu rrents
i n heated water
The ai r is heated mai nl y by contact
wi th the warm earth. When ai r is
warmed, it expands and becomes
l i ghter. Å l ayer of ai r, warmed
by contact wi th the earth, ri ses and i s repl aced by col der
ai r whi ch fows in and under it. Thi s col d ai r, in turn, is
warmed and ri ses, and it, too, i s repl aced by col der ai r.
Such a ci rcul ati ng movement of warm and col d fui ds i s
cal l ed "convecti on. " You can see convecti on cur rents i f
you drop smal l bi ts of paper i nto a gl ass contai ner i n
whi ch water i s bei ng heated.
The ai r at the equator receives much more heat than
the ai r at the pol es ( p. 5 1 ) . So warm ai r at the equator
ri ses and is repl aced by col der ai r fowi ng i n from north
and south. The warm, l i ght ai r ri ses and moves pol eward
hi gh above the earth. As i t cool s, i t si nks, repl aci ng the
cool surface ai r whi ch has moved toward the equator.
I f the earth di d not rotate, the ai r woul d ci rcul ate as
shown. Because the earth does rotate, the ci r cul ati on i s
di ferent (p. 53).
Ai r movements over a
non-rotati ng earth

Di ferences i n h1at i ng cause l ocal wi nds.
CONVECTI ON causes l ocal wi nds and breezes. Diferent
l and and water surfaces absorb di fer
nt amounts of heat.
Dark, pl owed soi l absorbs much more than grassy fel ds.
Mountai ns absorb heat faster duri ng dayl i ght t han nearby
val l eys, and l ose i t faster at ni ght. land warms faster than
does water dur i ng the day and cool s faster at ni ght. The
ai r above such surfaces i s warmed or cool ed accordi ngl y
-and l ocal wi nds resul t.
Mountai n breezes i n dayti me
Mountai n breezes at ni ght
Sea breezes i n dayti me
WATER I N THE ATMOSPHERE Water i s a lways pres­
ent i n the air. I t evaporates from the earth, of whi ch 70
per cent is covered wi th water. I n the ai r, water exists
in three states: sol i d, l i qui d, and i nvi si bl e vapor.
The amount of water vapor i n the ai r i s cal l ed the
"humi dity. " The "rel ative humi dity" i s the amount of vapor
the ai r is hol di ng expressed as a percentage of the amount
the ai r coul d hol d at that parti cul ar temperature. War m
ai r can hol d more water than col d. When ai r wi t h a given
amount of water vapor cool s, i ts rel ative humi dity goes
up; when the ai r i s warmed, its rel ative humi dity drops.
As the tabl e bel ow shows, ai r at 86°F i s "saturated"
when it hol ds 30. 4 grams of water vapor per cubi c meter.
( I n other words, i t has a rel ative humi dity of 1 00 per
cent; it has reached its dew point.) But air at 68° i s satu­
rated when i t hol ds onl y 1 7. 3 grams per cubi c meter.
That's a di ference of 1 3. 1 grams per cubic meter. So
every cubic meter of 86° saturated air that is cool ed to.
68° wi l l l ose 1 3. 1 grams of water vapor as cl oud drop­
l ets whi ch, if condi ti ons are ri ght, wi l l fal l as rai n or snow.
6% 24
% 45
% 1 00
28% 42
% 54% 79%
1 00%
53% 69% 1 00
77% 1 00%
67% 1 00%
1 00%
4. 85 7. 27 9.41 1 3.65 1 7. 31 30A
grams ofwater vapor per cubic meter

9 º
V º
4 º
º ª

Heat evaporates mi l l ions of tons of water
i nto the ai r dai l y. Lakes, streams, and
oceans send up a steady stream of water
vapor. An amazi ng amount of water tran-
spi res from the l eaves of green pl ants. A
si ngl e appl e tree may move 1 , 800 gal l ons
of water i nto the ai r i n a si x-month grow-
i ng season.
As moist warm ai r rises, it sl owl y cool s.
Fi nal l y it cool s so much that its rel ati ve
humi dity reaches 1 00 per cent. Cl ouds T
form and, under certai n condi ti ons, rai n or
snow comes down. Thi s eternal process of
evaporati on, condensati on, and preci pita-
i on i s cal l ed the water cycl e.
• Z
HOW CLOUDS ARE FORMED When ai r is cool ed be­
low its saturati on poi nt the water vapor in it condenses
to form cl ouds. When water vapor at a teakett l e spout
i s cool ed by the ai r around i t, a s mal l cl oud forms. Your
war m moi st breath forms a mi ni ature c l oud when i t hi ts
the col d wi nter ai r . The cl ouds you see near l y every day
form i n sever al ways but al l form by the same general
process-cool i ng of ai r bel ow i t s saturati on poi nt.
Eart h radi ates heat rapi dl y on
cl ear ni ghts. Ai r i n contact wi th
col d earth may cool bel ow its sat.
uration poi nt and farm low cl ouds,
or fog {a cl oud on the ground) . �
warm uir
Warm ai r is often l i fted by a
heavier mass of col d ai r whi ch
pushes u nder i t l i ke a wedge.
Cl ouds form as warm air cool s
bel ow i ts saturati on poi nt. �
. Warm ai r may move over a col d
s urface and be cool ed bel ow i ts
saturati on poi nt. Cl ouds may form
as warm l ake or ocean ai r moves
in over a cool er l and surface.
col d
ai r
Ai r may be heated by contact
wi th the earth' s warm su rface. I t
expends, becomes l i ghter, and
ri ses. Expansi on l owers i ts tem·
perature. The more i t ri ses, the
more i t cool s-at a rate of about
F for each 1 ,000 ft. of rise.
This "adi abati c cool i ng" occurs
whenever ai r rises. Most cl ouds form
because of adi abati c cool i ng.
Ai r movi ng up a sl ope l oses
heat adi abati cal l y as i t ri ses. I f
Warm ai r often pushes over a
mass of col d ai r (above). Cl ouds
may form as it cool s adi abati cal l y
because of i ts ri se.
Someti mes rai n or snow from
high cl ouds may fal l through
warm ai r, cool i t, and cause l ower
cl ouds to form. These l ower cl ouds
wi l l general l y be i n l ayers-often
i n several l evel s.
i t ri ses enough to cool bel ow i ts
saturati on poi nt, cl ouds wi l l form.
Cumulus clouds Stratus clouds
CLOUD CLASSI FI CATI ON Cl ouds are c l assifed ac­
cordi ng to how they are formed. There are two basi c
types: ( 1 ) Cl ouds formed by ri si ng ai r currents. These
are pi l ed up and pufy. They are cal l ed "cumul us, " whi ch
means pi l ed up or accumul ated. (2) Cl ouds formed when
a l ayer of ai r is cool ed bel ow the saturati on poi nt wi th­
out verti cal movement. These are i n sheets or fogl i ke
l ayers. They are cal l ed "stratus," meani ng sheetl i ke or
l ayered.
Cl ouds are further cl assifed by al ti tude i nto four fami ­
l i es: hi gh c l ouds, mi ddl e cl ouds, l ow cl ouds, and toweri ng
cl ouds. The bases of the l atter may be as l ow as the typi ­
cal l ow cl ouds, but the tops may be at or above 75,000 ft.
CLOUD NAMES The names of c l ouds are descri ptive
of thei r type and form. The word "ni mbus," meani ng rai n
cl oud, is added to the names of c l ouds which typical l y
produce r ai n or snow. The prefx "fracto-, " meani ng frag­
ment, i s added to names of wi nd- bl own cl ouds that are
broken i nto pi eces. "Al to-," meani ng hi gh, i s used to i ndi ­
cate mi ddl e- l ayer hi gh cl ouds of ei ther stratus or cumul us
types. The pi ctures and capti ons on the next four pages
wi l l hel p you to i dentify maj or cl oud types and to under­
stand better thei r rel ati onshi p to the weather.
HI GH CLOUDS are composed al most enti rel y of ti ny i ce
crystal s. Thei r bases average about 20,000 ft. above the
earth. Three types exi st:
Ci rrus cl ouds, thi n, wispy, and
feathery, are composed enti rel y
of i ce crystal s. Ci rrus cl ouds usu­
al l y form at 25,00 ft. and above,
where the temperature i s al ways
far bel ow freezi ng. These cl ouds
are frequentl y bl own about i nto
feathery strands cal led "mares'
tai l s. "
Ci rrocumulus cl ouds, general l y
formi ng at 20,000 to 25,000 ft.,
are rarel y seen. These thi n, patchy
cl ouds often form wavel i ke pat­
terns. These are the true mackerel
sky, not to be confused wi th al to­
cumul us rol l s. They are often ri p­
pl ed and al ways too t hi n to show
Ci rrostratus cl ouds form at the
same al ti tudes as ci rrocumul us.
These are t hi n sheets that l ook
l i ke fne vei l s or torn, wi nd- bl own
patches of gauze. Because they
are made of i ce crystal s, ci rrostra­
tus cl ouds form l arge hal os, or
l umi nous ci rcl es, around sun and
MI DDLE CLOUDS are basi cal l y stratus or cumul us. Thei r
bases average about 1 0,000 ft. above the earth.
Altostratus (above) are dense vei l s or sheets of gray
or bl ue. They often appear fi brous or l i ghtl y striped. The
sun or moon does not form a hal o, as wi th hi gher, i ce­
crystal ci rrostratus, but appears as if seen through
frosted gl ass.
Altocumul us ( bel ow) are patches or l ayers of pufy or
rol l - l i ke cl ouds, gray or whi ti sh. They resembl e ci rrocumu­
l us, but the pufs or rol l s are l arger and made of water
dropl ets, not i ce crystal s. Through al tocumul us the sun
often produces a corona, or di sk, general l y pal e bl ue or
yel l ow insi de, reddi sh outsi de. The corona' s col or and
s pread di sti ngui sh i t from t he ci rrostratus hal o-a l arger
ri ng, coveri ng much more of the sky.
LOW CLOUDS have bases that range in hei ght from near
the earth' s surface to 6,500 ft. There are three mai n ki nds:
Stratus i s a l ow, quite uniform
sheet, l i ke fog, wi th the base
above the ground. Dul l -gray stra­
tus cl ouds often make a heavy,
l eaden sky. Onl y fne dri zzl e can
fal l from true stratus cl ouds, be­
cause there i s l i ttl e or no verti cal
movement i n them.
Ni mbostratus are the true rai n
cl ouds. Darker t han ordi nary stra­
tus, they have a wet l ook, and
streaks of r ai n often extend to
the ground. They often are ac­
compani ed by l ow scud cl ouds
(fractostratus) when the wi nd i s
Stratocumul us are i rregul ar
masses of c l ouds spread out i n a
rol l i ng or pufy l ayer. Gray wi th
darker shadi ng, stratocumul us do
not produce rai n but someti mes
change i nto ni mbostratus, whi ch ••� �� �
do. The rol l s or masses then fuse
toget her and the l ower surface
becomes i ndi sti nct with rai n.
ª Ñ � ª ¯� = �

Cumuloni mbus are the familiar
thunderheads. Bases may al most
touch the ground; vi ol ent up­
drafts may carry the tops to
75,000 ft. Wi nds al oft often mol d
the tops i nto a fl at anvi l - l i ke form.
I n thei r most vi ol ent form these
cl ouds produce tornadoes ( p. 1 02).
Cumulus are pufy, caul i fower­
l i ke. Shapes constantl y change.
Over l and, cumul us usual l y form
by day i n ri si ng warm ai r, and
di sappear at n i ght. They mean
fai r weather unl ess t hey pi l e up
i nto cumul oni mbus.
Cumulus and Cumuloni mbus
are both cl ouds of verti cal devel ­
opment, unl i ke the l ayered cl ouds
descri bed on previ ous pages.
Cl ouds of the cumul us type resul t
from strong verti cal currents. They form at al most any
al ti tude, wi th bases someti mes as hi gh as 14,000 ft.
cumul us
al tostratus
stratocumulus '
al tocumul us
stratus .
ci rrus
cumul oni mbus
ci rrostratus

ni mbostratus

ci rrocumul us
Rai n, Snow, Dew,
and Frost
PRECI PI TATI ON such as rai n, snow, sl eet, and hai l can
occur onl y if there are cl ouds i n the sky. But not al l ki nds
of cl ouds can produce preci pitati on. Temperature, the
presence of ti ny forei gn partic l es, or of i ce crystal s, al l
hel p deter mi ne whether preci pitati on wi l l occur and what
form it wi l l take. For exampl e, snow wi l l not form unl ess
ai r i s supersaturated (cool ed bel ow its saturati on poi nt or
dew poi nt wi thout its water vapor condensi ng) and i s con­
si derabl y bel ow the freezi ng poi nt of water.
WHAT MAKES IT RAI N? Rai n fal l s from c l ouds for
the same reason anythi ng fal l s to earth. The earth' s
gravi ty pul l s i t. But every cl oud is made of water drop­
lets or i ce crystal s. Why doesn't rai n or snow fal l con­
stantl y from al l cl ouds? The dropl ets or i ce crystal s i n
cl ouds are exceedi ngl y smal l . The efect of gravity on
t hem i s mi nute. Ai r currents move and l ift dropl ets so t hat
the net downward movement is zero, even t hough t he
dropl ets are i n constant moti on.
Dropl ets and i ce crystal s behave somewhat l i ke dust
in the ai r made vi si bl e in a shaft of sunl i ght. But dust
parti cl es are much l arger than water dropl ets, and they
fnal l y fal l . The cl oud dropl et of average si ze is onl y
1/2500 i nch i n di ameter. I t is so smal l that i t woul d take
16 hours to fal l hal f a mi l e i n perfectl y sti l l ai r, and i t does
not fal l out of movi ng ai r at al l . Onl y when the dropl et
grows to a di ameter of 1/125 i nch or l arger can i t fal l
from the cl oud. The average rai ndrop contai ns a mi l l i on
ti mes as much water as a ti ny cl oud dropl et. The growth
of a cl oud dropl et to a size l arge enough to fal l out i s the
cause of r ai n and other forms of preci pi tati on. This i mpor­
tant growth process i s cal l ed "coal escence. "
Cl oud droplets (enlarged 70 ti mes). Smal lest raindrop (enl arged 70 times).
Coal escence occurs chi efy in two
ways: ¦!) Dropl ets in cl ouds are of
diferent si zes. Big drops move more
sl owl y i n t urbul ent ai r and i n paths
diferent from the paths of smal l
dropl ets. Bi gger, heavi er drops are
not whi pped around so rapi dl y. So
drops col l i de, become bi gger, and
fnal l y drop as rai n. This i s prob­
abl y the mai n cause of rai nfal l from
ni mbostratus and other l ow cl ouds.
(2) The most i mportant type of
coal escence occurs when ti ny i ce
crystals and water dropl ets occur to­
gether ( as near the mi ddl e of cumu­
l oni mbus c l ouds). Some water drop­
l ets evaporate and then condense
on t he crystal s. The crystal s grow
unti l they drop as snow or i ce pel l ets.
As these drop through warm ai r, they
change i nto rai ndrops.
(3) light ni ng di scharges i n a thu
derstorm form oxi des of nitrogen that
are extremel y hygroscopi c (water­
absorbi ng) . These oxides are added
to the atmosphere and become one
of the ki nds of nucl ei for future con­
densati on and eventual coal escence
and rai nfal l . But the two processes
menti oned above are the mai n and
per haps t he onl y causes of coal es­
cence and hence preci pi tati on. Re­
search may show other possi bi l i ti es.
N �




SNOW Very smal l parti cl es i n the ai r may act as nucl ei
upon whi ch water vapor wi l l crystal l i ze to for m snow.
Ai r must be supersaturated wi th water vapor and bel ow
the freezi ng poi nt. Microscopi c bits of soi l , cl ay, sand, and
ash are common nucl ei . Cl oud temperatures must general ­
l y be from + 1 0° to -4°F before snow begi ns to form.
Vapor changes to snow even wi thout nucl ei at hi gh al ti ­
tudes i n supersaturated ai r at -38°F.
SNOW PELLETS ( or granul ar
snow) are white, and of vari ous
shapes. Al though much l i ke soft
hai l , pel l ets are too smal l and soft
to bounce. A si ngl e pel l et gener­
al l y forms from many supercool ed
cl oud dropl ets whi ch freeze to-
gether i nto crystal l i ne form. Snow pellets-magnifed 3 times.
I CE PRI SMS form hexagonal pl ates, col umns, and
needl es t hat someti mes gl itter l i ke di amonds as they are
bl own about. Because of thei r smal l si ze they fal l very
sl owl y. I ce needl es often mdke hal os ar ound sun or moon.
I n ver y col d cl i mates ice-needl e
fogs form on the gr ound.
Ice needles-magnifed 1 0 times.
Halo caused by ice needles.
I CE PELLETS (sl eet) consi st of transparent or transl ucent
beads of i ce. Sl eet occurs when rai n, droppi ng from upper
warm ai r, fal l s through a l ayer
of freezi ng ai r. Rai ndrops frst be­
come freezi ng rai n (supercool ed)
and when stri ki ng the ground i n
thi s condi ti on form gl aze ( p. 27).
But further cool i ng produces ice
pel l ets, or true sl eet, whi ch
bounces on hitti ng the ground.
freezing rain
ice pellets
Ice pellets-magnifed 3 times.
HAI L forms as frozen rai ndrops,
formed hi gh i n the cl ouds, move
through areas of supercool ed
water dropl ets i n t hundercl ouds.
Hai lstones were l ong thought to
devel op thei r oni onl i ke structure
by bei ng al ternatel y forced up­
ward by verti cal wi nds i n the
thunderhead to a freezi ng l evel ,
then dropped down to where
more water was pi cked up. Such
up-and-down tri ps do occur, but
the growth of hai l stones resul ts
mostl y from i ce pel l ets' pi cki ng up
water i n the supercool ed mi ddl e
and upper regi ons of the cl oud.
The l ayers resul t fr om diferences
between the freezi ng rate and
the rate at whi ch water accumu­
l ates on the pel l ets.
cross section •
of a hailstone
I CE STORMS are characteri zed by gl aze. Gl aze is as
destructi ve as it i s beauti ful . I t occurs when rai n or dri zzl e
that has been supercool ed ( cool ed bel ow 32 °F but not
yet frozen) fal l s on col d surfaces and i mmedi atel y freezes.
Gl aze i ce formed from thi s freezi ng rai n can snap branches,
wi res, and pol es and cause hazardous dri vi ng conditi ons.
DEW does not fal l . I t i s water vapor that con­
denses on sol i d surfaces that have cool ed bel ow
the condensati on poi nt of the ai r i n contact wi th
them. Thi s cool i ng by radi ati on occurs usual l y on cl ear
ni ghts. The "sweat" that forms on t he outsi de of a gl ass of
col d l emonade on a hot day is al so dew.
FROST i s formed l ike dew but at temperatures bel ow
freezi ng. The water vapor changes di rectl y to smal l , fne
frost crystal s wi thout condensi ng i nto water drops frst.
Frost crystal s growi ng on wi ndows devel o"p feathery pat­
terns as the pri mary frost mel ts and recrystal l i zes.
Drainage pattern af the United States and Canada.
i s stored i n the ground, ponds, or l akes, or r uns of to be
stored i n the ocean. I t eventual l y evaporates i nto the ai r
agai n. Surface runof of preci pi tati on and the underground
fow of water gi ve us our brooks, streams, and ri vers. Ri vers
al ways fow from hi gher to l ower l evel s, c utti ng thei r own
val l eys. Streams and ri vers merge and fnal l y they empty
i nto the oceans. When the suppl y of water i s l arger t han
the amount normal l y handl ed by streams and ri vers, food­
i ng occurs. I n ar eas of hard, baked ground or cl ay soi l , t he
r unof fr om a t hunderstorm i s al most compl ete, si nce there
i s l i ttl e seepage i nto the soi l . Fl ash foods may resul t. Water
may al so run underground, to emerge as spri ngs. Wel l s
tap thi s underground water, whi ch provi des many areas
wi th an abundant suppl y. Large underground ri vers exi st,
but these are rare.
Water is stored as snow and ice,
as well as in lakes.
Ten inches of snow melts into one
inc� of water.
WATER STORAGE Lakes and ponds obvi ousl y store a
great deal of water. Not so obvi ous is the i mmense reser­
voi r of water stored i n the pol ar i ce caps, i n gl aci ers, and
i n s now on mountai ns and on t he col d northern pl ai ns dur­
i ng wi nter. Wi nter snows in the mountai ns determi ne the
water suppl y for i rri gati on and for power use. Thi s snow
mel ts wi th the spri ng thaw and fl l s the ri vers. I f spri ng i s
l ate, t he mel t i ng wi l l be more sudden, resul ti ng i n foods.
GROUND WATER Topsoi l hol ds an i mmense amount
of water. Some of thi s i s transferred i nto the ai r by green
pl ants. But most of i t seeps through soi l and porous rock
unti l i t reaches nonporous cl ay or rock. I t forms a massi ve
subterranean reservoi r, fl l i ng al l the cracks and pores i n
t he rock and soi l . The underground water, l i ke surface
water, fows downhi l l and seeps out i nto streams or comes
out in spri ngs. Eventual l y thi s water, too, evaporates or
reaches the sea.
impervious rcck
RAI NMAKI NG is an anci ent
hope, a 1 9th-century fake, and a
modern sci enti fc fact. Every pri mi ­
ti ve tri be has tri ed one way or an­
other to make i t rai n. Pri mi ti ve
magi c, r ai n dances, and sacri fces
have al l been used to i nduce rai n.
By coi nci dence, rai n has fol l owed
these eforts often enough to keep
al ive the bel i ef in the efci ency of
the methods. Qui te a boom in rai n­
maki ng devel oped in the 1 9th cen­
tury. Drums were beaten, cannons
shot, and expl osives were set of,
produci ng great quanti ti es of
smoke. The methods were wort hl ess
and so were many of the operators.
One of the smoothest of t hese con­
fdence men used U. S. Weather
Bureau cl i matol ogi cal data. He
never appeared i n a drought area
unti l i t was al most certai n that rai n
was but a few days away. Then he
woul d put on hi s act, wai t for t he
rai n, and col l ect his fee.
Modern rai nmaki ng techni ques
are based on known facts of coal es­
cence and genui nel y i nfuence rai n­
fal l and snowfal l (see pp. 32-33) .
Al l modern techni ques depend up­
on the "seedi ng" of artifci al nucl ei
i nto potenti al r ai n cl ouds. Si l ver
i odi de crystal s are most common l y
Hopi I ndi ans dance for rai n.
1 9th-cent ury rai nmakers.
Si l ver i odi de generator.
Dry ice dropped from pl ane forms partl y cl eared strip in stratus cl ouds.
MODERN RAI NMAKI NG grew out of studi es of how
ai rcraft col l ect i ce on wi ngs and other surfaces. Dr. Vi ncent
J. Schaefer was attempti ng to prevent the formati on of
supercool ed cl ouds (whi ch cause i ce to form on ai rcraft) .
He di scovered that ti ny bi ts of dry i ce (frozen carbon di ­
oxi de) produced fantasti c numbers of ice nucl ei when
"seeded" i nto c l ouds col der than 32°F. A pi ece of dry i ce
the si ze of a groi n of ri ce caused the formati on of more
t han a tri l l i on i ce crystal s. Each grew at the expense of
supercool ed cl oud dropl ets and formed snow (see p. 23).
The techni que of seedi ng supercool ed cl ouds has si nce
been used to l essen ground fogs and, under certai n con­
di ti ons, to i nduce snow or rai nfal l from I orge cumul us
cl ouds. Dr. I rvi ng Langmui r and Dr. Bernard Vonnegut
pi oneered further studi es by seedi ng c l ouds wi th water
and si l ver i odi de. The water i ni ti ates coal escence. Si nce
t he si l ver i odi de has a mol ecul ar structure nearl y i denti cal
wi th that of i ce, i t i nduces coal escence i n much the some
manner as i ce crystal s wou l d.
CLOUD SEEDI NG experi ments
conti nued wi th mi ni ature cl ouds
produced under l aboratory condi ­
ti ons. Vari ous substances were
sprayed i nto a col d chamber i n an
efort to produce i ce crystal s or co­
al escence. Dry i ce and si l ver i odi de
both worked wel l . Fi nel y ground
dry i ce (wi th a temperature of
-1 08° F) caused cl oud dropl ets to
m �
.· .
crystal l i ze al ong its path. These
Seeding a cumulus cl oud
crystal s grew rapi dl y at the ex-
wi th dry i ce.
pense of the water dropl ets around them, and soon be­
came l arge enough to fal l . Si l ver i odi de, on the other
hand, acted di rectl y as a nucl eus for i ce formati on. These
i ce crystais, al so, grew unti l they fel l .
Cl ouds are n ow seeded wi th ei ther dry i ce or si l ver
i odi de. One pound of dry i ce spread by a pl ane may start
a shower in l arge cumul us cl ouds. Si l ver i odi de i s l ess
expensi ve to use, because i t can be sent up from the
ground to cl ouds from speci al gen­
erators. But cl oud seedi ng i s not
successful un l ess condi ti ons are
nearl y ri ght for natural preci p­
i tati on. Seedi ng can i nduce rai n
under t he ri ght condi ti ons. I t can
cause more rai n to fal l t han woul d
occur wi th undi sturbed natural con­
diti ons. I t cannot produce rai n from
fai r-weather cumul us cl ouds. Nor
i s i t yet possi bl e for cl oud seedi ng,
whi ch i s sti l l i n i ts i nfancy, to i n­
duce rai n to fal l over a wi de-
spread area.
C0urtcs/ ûc0crö1 L!cctr¡c C0mpö0/
Man-made snow cloud i n
a col d chamber.
The Atmosphere
Earth' s atmosphere woul d be more apparent to a travel er
mi l es out i n space than to us on the earth' s surface. The
s un's rays, scatteri ng i n the atmosphere, woul d make the
l i ghted si de of the earth a bri ght, fuzzy crescent, fai ntl y
bl otched wi th cl ouds al ong the twi l i ght zone. Difusi on
woul d extend the crescent of l i ght far around the earth' s
curve. On the dark si de, l i ghts of great ci ti es mi ght show
as ti ny, di ml y shi ni ng spots through the atmospheri c vei l .
A f ul l understandi ng of the weather requi res
knowl edge of the atmosphere. We l ive at the bot­
tom of a yirtual ocean of ai r. Extendi ng upward
perhaps 1,000 mi l es, t his massive, rest l ess ocean i s
far diferent, and far more tempestuous, than the
watery oceans that cover t hree-fourths of the gl obe.
A narrow band of compacted ai r l yi ng j ust above
t he earth i s the regi on of conti nuous wi nds. Here,
the ri si ng and fal l i ng ai r currents someti mes devel op
i nto vi ol ent storms. Onl y recentl y have the most ad­
vanced ai rcraft ventured above thi s thi n l ayer, some
5 to 11 mi l es thi ck.
The ocean of ai r difers i n one maj or way from
an ocean of water. Water is nearl y i ncompressi bl e.
A cubi c foot of water on an ocean bottom wei ghs
much the same as a cubi c foot near t he surface.
But the ai r of the atmospheri c ocean is hi ghl y com­
pressi bl e: a cubi c foot of ai r at the surface wei ghs
bi l l i ons of ti mes as much as a cubi c foot at the outer
edge of the atmosphere. The atmosphere thi ns so
rapi dl y as one l eaves the earth that, onl y 3Y mi l es
up, over hal f the atmosphere by wei ght woul d l i e
bel ow you. I t i s chi efy i n thi s 3Y- mi l e bl anket of
heavy ai r that weather changes are born. The at­
mosphere 500 mi l es out i s so t hi n that there are onl y
about 22 mi l l i on mol ecul es of ai r per cubi c i nch,
compared to bi l l i ons upon bi l l i ons at the earth' s sur­
face. Sti l l farther out, the ever-thi nni ng atmosphere
bl ends wi th the stray gases and dust of outer space.
Composition of oir
at al titudes above
500 mil es
hel ium 50%
oxygen 21 %
argon 0. 93 %
carbon d ioxi de 0. 03 %
al l other gases 0.04%
that wi l l not di rectl y sustai n l i fe. Oxy­
gen, whi ch al l l iving t hi ngs need, makes
up sl i ghtl y l ess t han 2 1 per cent of the
ai r. I nert nitrogen makes up 78 per cent.
The remai nder of the gases, al l total i ng
l ess t han 1 per cent, are carbon di oxi de,
argon, neon, radon, hel i um, krypton,
xenon, hydrogen, methane, ni trous ox­
i de, and ozone (a form of oxygen) .
Besi des these, ai r contai ns up t o 4 per
cent water vapor, al so dust and gases
such as smoke, sal t, other chemi cal s
from sea spray or i ndustry, carbon
monoxi de, and mi cro-organi sms.
I f the ai r were perfectl y q uiet, the
heavi er parti cl es and gases woul d sett l e
cl ose t o the earth and the l i ghtest woul d
be found t he farthest out from earth' s
surface. But the constant moti on of the
ai r near the surface mi xes the gases so
that the same proporti ons exi st from the
earth' s surface up to about 45 mi l es. Far­
ther out are found chi efy the l i ghter
gases. Probabl y onl y the l i ghtest gases,
hel i um and hydrogen, are found at
hei ghts above 500 mi l es. In i ntermedi ate
l evel s are found hi gh concentrati ons of
ozone and i oni zed n i trogen, together
wi th smal l er quanti ti es of other i oni zed
gases. Ozone, by absorpti on, pl ays a
l arge part in the earth's heat bal ance­
as does the i ncreasi ng amount of man­
made carbon di oxi de.
PHERE Fi rst and most i mportant
of the atmosphere' s four l a. yers i s
the troposphere, whi ch l i es c l osest
to eart h. Next above i s the strato­
sphere. Where the troposphere
ends and t he stratosphere begi ns
i s a boundary cal l ed the tropo­
pause. Thi s averages 5 mi l es
above the earth near the pol es,
and 1 1 mi l es above at the equa­
tor. The stratosphere ·goes up to
about 50 mi l es. Above thi s is the
i onosphere, extendi ng out to
about 650.mi l es. Here are i onized,
or el ectrifed, parti cl es that refect
l ong radio waves back to earth.
Fi nal l y, above the i onosphere i s
the exosphere, about whi ch · l ittl e
i s known.
l ayer are nearl y al l of the cl o
ds. Here i s where weather
occurs. Ai r, heated by contact wi th the earth, rises and i s
repl aced by col der ai r. These vertical currents create hori ­
zontal wi nds at or near the surface of the earth. Water,
evaporated from the l and and seas, rises wi th the ascend­
i ng warm ai r. As the ai r rises, the surroundi ng pressure
l essens, so it steadi l y expands. Expansi on i s a cool i ng proc­
ess (see bel ow). I f the ai r ri ses hi gh enolgh, it cool s unti l
condensati on forms cl ouds.
Expansi on of any gas is a cool i ng process. Compression
creates heat. The cyl i nder and hose of a ti re pump get
hot as ai r is pumped and compressed. The sudden expan­
sion of gas rushi ng out of an aerosol bomb cool s the ti p.
Most ai r conditi oners work on the same pri nci pl e, as
shown bel ow. A gas is compressed i n the part outside the
house. The heat of compressi on is given of to the outside
ai r, and the gas condenses to a l i qui d. The l i qui d i s forced
through a ti ny nozzl e and expands suddenl y i n the coi l s
i nsi de the house. Thi s expansi on ( and evaporati on back
to a gas) cool s the coi l s and al so the ai r whi ch i s bl own
over the coi l s i nto the room.
house wall
ai r
7000 ft. 41.5
ó000ft. 47
5000 ft. 52.5
4000 ft. 58
300 ft. ó3.5
2000 ft. óº
Adi abatic temperature changes as ai r travel s aver a mountai n.
The troposphere has a ki nd of automati c ai r condi ti oner.
The pri mary heat pump is, of course, the sun. It heats the
earth' s surface whi ch, i n turn, heats the ai r i n contact with
it. The air expands, becomes l i ghter, and ri ses. But the
hi gher it ri ses the more it expands, because the pressure
around it i s steadi l y l esseni ng. And the more it expands,
the more it cool s. Thi s is an automati c cool i ng process
whi ch occurs wi thout any l oss of heat due to outsi de
causes. The ri si ng ai r cool s automati cal l y at about 5Yz °F
f or each 1 ,000 ft. it ri ses. Thi s i s what happens when ai r
rises up the si de of a mountai n. When it goes down t he
other si de, it begi ns compressi ng. I t war ms up i n doi ng so
at the same rate (5\°F per 1 ,000 ft.) i t cool ed i n ri si ng.
Thi s automati c temperature change i n ri si ng or fal l i ng ai r
i s cal l ed "adi abati c" warmi ng or cool i ng. Ai r need not be
pushed up by a mountai n for thi s adi abati c change to take
pl ace. Ai r ri si ng over heated pl ai ns wi l l al so cool at the
same rate of about 5\° F per 1 ,000 ft. ri se.
uses thi s
much heal
CONDENSATI ON compl icates adi abati c cool i ng and
warmi ng, and· makes the temperatures on t he wi ndward
si de of mountai n ranges l ower than those on the leeward
side. Mai nl y because of condensati on, there are rel ati vel y
cool val l eys west of the Si erra Nevadas and hot deserts
to the east.
Consi derabl e heat is needed to change l iqui d water to
water vapor. Heat i ncreases the speed of water mol ecul es,
so that many more escape as water vapor. Changi ng a
pan of water at the boi l i ng poi nt to vapor requi res si x
ti mes the heat needed to raise the same amount of water
from freezi ng to boi l i ng. When water vapor condenses
back i nto l iqui d water, the same l arge amount of heat i s
gi ven of. Thi s heat can i ncrease the temperature of the
ai r consi derabl y. When ai r is risi ng, two opposi ng i nfu­
ences operate as i ts moisture condenses: adi abati c cool i ng
tends to l ower its temperature; and heat of condensati on
tends to rai se i t. The net efect i s an average cool i ng of
3. 2 ° F per 1,000 ft. of rise when condensati on occurs.
Take an exampl e: Ai r at 60°F moves up the west
side of a mountai n. I t cools adi abati cal l y 5. 5°F for each
1 ,000 ft. of ri se up to the cl ouds at 4,000 ft. As conden­
sati on begi ns, heat i s rel eased, and the adi abati c cool i ng
is t hus partl y ofset. From 4,000 ft. to the mountai n top,
at 1 0,000 ft. , the net cool i ng i s onl y 3. 2 ° F per 1 ,000 ft.
Thus the total cool i ng of the wi nd as i t sweeps up the
mountai n i s
4 x 5. 5, or 22 °
pÌus 6 x 3. 2, or 1 9. 2°
ÎOIoÌ 41 . 2 °
from val l ey foor to cl oud base
from cl oud base to mountai n top
from val l ey to mountai n top
The ai r that began at 60° F tops the mountai n at 18. 8 ° F .
As t he ai r pours down t he eastern sl ope, i t compresses
and warms, adi abati cal l y, at the rate of 5. 5°F per 1 ,000
ft. Because of the warmi ng, no further condensati on oc­
curs. Total warmi ng of the ai r from mountai n top to val l ey,
1 0,000 ft. bel ow, i s 1 0 x 5. 5° F, or 55° F. Addi ng t his to the
mountai n top temperature of 1 8. 8° F gi ves 73. 8 ° F as the
temperature of the eastern val l ey. The temperature at
the eastern foot of the mountai n i s 1 3. 8° F hi gher than at
the western foot. Condensati on and preci pi tati on on the
western sl ope made the di ference.
Chi nook wi nds are an example of thi s down- sl ope
warmi ng of ai r. They occur on the eastern sl ope of the
Rocki es, often wi th dramati c efect. One Chi nook brought
the temperature up from -6° F to 3rF i n 1 5 mi nutes.
Condensati on modifes adiabati c cool i ng.
Jyµico| jets¡reom µotbs.
STREAM The tropopause-the
zone that marks the end of the
troposphere and t he begi nni ng
of t he nearl y weatherl ess strato­
sphere-was once t hought to be
conti nuous from pol es to equator.
We now know that the tropopause
has breaks, gi vi ng i t an overl ap­
pi ng, l eaf-l i ke structure. These
breaks are i mportant i n connec­
ti on wi th the jet streams. A j et
stream i s a tubul ar ri bbon of h i gh­
speed wi nds, general l y fr om t he
west and some 20,000 to 40,000
feet up. Jet streams form at the
overl aps, parti cul ar l y of the arcti c
tropopause and the extratropical
tropopause. The are at l east par­
ti al l y the resul t of the strong tem­
perature contrast there.
A jet stream was discovered by Ameri can B-29 pi l ots
fyi ng to Japan from the Mari anas i n Worl d War I I . They
consistentl y reported westerl y wi nds wi th speeds far Ì D
excess of those expected. A j et stream i s usual l y about
300 mi l es wi de and 4 mi l es hi gh. At i ts core it averages
100 mi l es per hour i n wi nter and 50 mi l es per hour i n
summer; these speeds may ri se to 250 mi l es per hour
or more. Formi ng a wavy pat h at the top of the tropo­
sphere, the jet stream assi sts hi gh-fl yi ng ai rpl anes travel ­
i ng east; pl anes goi ng west try t o avoi d these strong
headwi nds. The strength of the jet wi nds decreases out­
ward from the core, and from pl ace to pl ace i n the
stream. The number of j et streams and t hei r paths vari es
from day to day and season to season. A typi cal j et
stream has areas of maxi mum wi nds al ong i t t�at tend
to travel eastward. Two pl aces where these wi nd max­
i mums occur with great frequency are across Japan and
over the New Engl and states. I n wi nter, over the North
Ameri can Conti nent, there are three maj or jet streams:
one over northern Canada, one over the United States,
and one over the subtropi cs.
Structure of a jet stream
20,000 ft.
THE STRATOSPHERE is the al most weatherl ess part of
the atmosphere. It extends from the tropopause upward
about 50 mi l es. The name suggests its nature, for i t usual l y
has very l ittl e verti cal ai r movement; i t i s a uniform l ayer,
or stratum. Temperature drops much more sl owl y wi th
hei ght than i n the troposphere. I n fact, the temperature
begi ns to ri se agai n near the top of this l ayer. F l yi ng i n
the stratosphere i s general l y smooth, and the vi si bi l ity i s
al ways excel l ent. The ai r i s thi n and ofers very l i ttl e resis­
tance to a pl ane; hence a gal l on of fuel carries a pl ane
much farther through the stratosphere. A regi on of no
weather, the stratosphere is preferred by j et pi l ots, for
here they can fy at top speeds with l ittl e fear of turbu­
l ence. Often too far above us to be seen, the j ets c hal k
thei r path across the sky as moi sture from their engi nes ·
forms condensati on trai l s-streaks of fne ice crystal s in an
otherwi se weatherl ess atmosphere.
THE I ONOSPHERE l i es above the stratosphere, extend­
i ng outward some 650 mi l es. Here the ai r i s extremel y t hi n.
The scattered ai r parti cl es ar e i oni zed; t hat i s, el ectri fed
by the removal of an el ectron, or negative charge of
el ectri city. The rel entl ess bombardment of cosmi c rays
from outer space causes thi s i oni zati on. Were i t not for
thi s i oni zed ai r we coul d not receive radi o broadcasts
beyond the hori zon, for radi o waves go in a strai ght l i ne.
Layers of i oni zed ai r refect the radi o waves back t o
eart h. The several mi rrorl i ke radio-wave-refecti ng l ayers
are the Kennel l y-Heavi si de or E Layer, 50 to 80 mi l es up;
the F Layer, 1 50 to 200 mi l es up; and a vari abl e number
of other l ayers that resul t from spl i tti ng of the E and F
The ai r parti cl es i n the i onosphere are hot. Esti mates
put them at some 1 ,000°F to l ,500°F duri ng the day and
300° F at ni ght. These extreme temperatures are probabl y
caused by cosmi c-ray bombardment. But when space
travel becomes a real ity, we need not fear bei ng broi l ed
al i ve. The ai r particl es are so far apart and so ti ny that
we wi l l probabl y not notice them at al l . Much more dan­
gerous wi l l be the cosmi c rays.
Radi o waves refected by the i onosphere can be recei ved beyond
the hori zon.
THE EXOSPHERE is the fnal and hi ghest l ayer of the
atmosphere. Hotter,. even, than the stratosphere' s ai r
parti cl es, t he i ons of gas i n t he exosphere ar e possi bl y
as hot as 4,500° F. They are bombarded so fercel y by
cosmi c rays t hat t hey exist onl y i n atomic form, i nstead of
mol ecul es. At ni ght, shi el ded from the sun' s di rect rays, the
temperature of the particl es drops near l y to absol ute zero
-about -460°F.
Curtai n aurora
Auroras resul t from the acti on
of streams of sol ar parti cl es on
the i onosphere, 50 to 600 mi l es
up. What happens i s much l i ke events
in a neon tube. Because the earth i s
a magnet
i oni zati on i s strongest
near the pol es, and the auroras are
seen mai nl y at hi gh l atitudes.
Mother - of - pearl Cl ouds may
consist of water dropl ets. These rare
cl ouds appear as bands of pastel
col ors, 1 4 to 1 9 mi l es hi gh. The sky
i s otherwise cl ear at the al ti tudes
where they are seen.
Nocti l ucent Cl ouds, the hi ghest cl ouds known, are
probabl y formed from meteor dust. Appeari ng in the
western sky shortl y after sunset at a hei ght of some 50
mi l es, they have a gol d edge near the hori zon and are
bl ui sh white above. Both nocti l ucent and mother-of- pear l
cl ouds travel at terrifc speeds-394 mi l es per hour was
once observed.
Meteors are vi sitors from outer space. They hi t our
atmosphere at tremendous speeds-perhaps 90,000 mi l es
per hour. Fri cti on wi th the ai r of the upper atmosphere
heats them to i ncandescence, and most of them vapori ze
i nto gases or di si ntegrate i nto har ml ess dust before they
come to wit hi n 30 mi l es of t he earth' s surface. Thus our
atmosphere protects us. Mi l l i ons of meteors, most of them
smal l er t han grai ns of sand, hi t our atmosphere every
day. Very few ever reach the ground.
The Earth' s Moti ons
and Weather
The earth has fve moti ons i n space. I t rotates on i ts axi s
once each 24 hours, wi th a sl ow wobbl e ( l i ke that of a
top) whi ch takes 26,000 years to compl ete. It revol ves
around the sun at 1 8Vz mi l es per second, maki ng the
ci rcui t i n 3651 days. I t speeds wi th the rest of our sol ar
system at 1 2 mi l es per second toward the star Vega.
Fi nal l y, our enti re gal axy, wi th its bi l l i ons of stars, i s rotat­
ing i n space-our part of it at a speed of 1 70 mi l es per
Onl y two of these moti ons afect the weather. But thei r
efect i s profound. Earth's annual tri p around the sun
gi ves us our seasons and thei r typi cal weather. Earth' s
dai l y rotati on not on l y resul ts i n ni ght and day; it produces
the maj or wi nd bel ts of our earth, and each has i ts typi cal
pattern of weather.
CAUSE OF THE SEASONS Seasons resul t from the fact
that the axi s on whi ch the earth spi ns i s sl anted 23 7z ° to
the pl ane of i ts orbit. When the North Pol e i s ti pped to­
ward the sun, the northern hemi sphere has summer. The
sun's rays beat more di rectl y down on t he northern hem­
i sphere and the days are l onger.
The sun i s farthest north at the summer sol stice, about
June 22. Then the sun i s di rectl y over the Tropi c of Cancer,
and dayl i ght hours are l ongest i n the northern hemi sphere
and ni ghts are the shortest of any ti me i n the year. The
North Pol e i s i n the mi ddl e of i ts annual peri od of si x
months of sunl i ght, and the South Pol e i n the mi ddl e of
its si x months of rel ative darkness.
At the wi nter sol sti ce ( about Dec.
22) the North Pol e is tipped farthest
away from the sun, whi ch i s now di ­
rectl y over the Tropi c of Capri corn.
The southern hemi sphere has sum­
mer; the northern hemi sphere has
wi nter. Conditi ons are j ust the re­
verse of those at the summer sol sti ce.
The Antarcti c i s now the "l and of the
mi dni ght sun" and the Arcti c i s sun­
l ess.
At the fal l and spri ng equi noxes
(about Sept. 23 and March 2 1 , re­
spectivel y) the earth' s ti l t is si de­
wi se wi th respect to the sun. li ght
fal l s equal l y on northern and south­
ern hemi spheres. Day and ni ght are
of equal durati on everywhere on the
earth. The equi noxes mark the be­
gi nni ngs of spri ng and fal l .
SUMMER IS WARMER than wi nter for two reasons: the
days are l onger ( more ti me for the sun to heat the earth)
and the sun' s rays, stri ki ng our part of the eart h more
di rectl y, are therefore more concentrated.
Days and ni ghts at the equator are al ways 1 2 hours
l ong. The farther north you go i n
summer, the l onger the days and
the shorter the ni ghts. Thi s i s so be­
cause t he . sun i n summer shi nes
across the pol e. The nearer one gets
to the pol e, the l onger the day be­
comes, unti l i t fnal l y becomes 24
hours l ong. To an observer i n the
"l and of the mi dnight sun" t he sun
appears to move al ong the hori ­
zon i nstead of ri si ng and sett i ng.
But as wi nter comes, the sun
seems t o move south. The farther
north you go, the shorter the win­
ter days and the l onger the ni ghts.
The sun's apparent movement
rel ati ve to the earth i n wi nter and i n summer i s
shown bel ow. On Dec. 22, at the l ati tude of Washi ngton,
D. C. , t he sun at noon i s onl y about 27° above t he south­
ern hori zon, The day i s short because the sun' s path from
eastern to western hori zon is short. But on June 22, at the
same l ati tude, the sun ri ses farther i n the north and at
noon reaches about 74° al ti tude. Its path is l onger and
so dayl i ght l asts about 1 5 hours.
sun at noon
December 22
sun at noon
June 22
To see the efect of the di rectness of t he sun' s rays, set
a fashl i ght 1 ft. above a l arge sheet of paper. Mark t he
outl i ne of the ci rcl e of l i ght i t makes. Now hol d the fash­
l i ght at an angl e to the paper-but sti l l a foot away.
Mark the outl i ne of the el l I pse of l i ght i t makes. The same
amount of l i ght hit t he paper both ti mes. But the frst ti me
it was concentrated, the second ti me more
spread out. When the rays were di rect t he
concentrati on for a unit area was greatest.
s ummer
The summer sun fol l ows a path more
nearl y overhead, so i ts rays are more con­
centrated. The wi nter sunl i ght hits the earth
at a greater sl ant. The same amount of sun­
l i ght now spreads out over a l arger area.
I n additi on, wi nter sunl i ght must pass
through more atmosphere, because i t has
a more sl anted path. More energy i s dif­
fus�d by the atmosphere and l ess reaches
the earth to warm i t.
winter sun
sol ar radiati on
under a cl oudl ess sky
temperature average
SEASONAL LAG August i s hotter than June even
though the sun is more nearl y overhead and the day i s
l ongest on June 22. I n terms of sol ar radi ati on reachi ng
the eart h, May, J une, and J ul y shoul d be our warmest
months. But J une, Jul y, and August actual l y are. Why?
Duri ng the year the earth, as a whol e, l oses preci sel y
the same amount of heat i t receives from the sun. But as
the sun moves north i n spri ng, our part of the earth gai ns
heat faster t han heat is l ost. On June 22 it is recei vi ng
maxi mum sol ar radi ati on. The heat gai n conti nues to ex­
ceed heat l oss unti l maxi mum warmth i s reached, usual l y
i n l ate J ul y. Heat gai n conti nues t o exceed heat l oss, at a
di mi ni shi ng rate, unti l about August 31. Then our part of
the earth starts to l ose heat faster than it recei ves it, and
begi ns t o cool down. The process i s l i ke starti ng a fre i n
a stove: the roari ng fre heats the room sl owl y, but the
room wi l l stay warm for a whi l e after the fre has di ed
down. The same heat l ag accounts for the fact that the
warmest ti me of day is usual l y about 3 p. m. -not noon,
when the sun's rays are most i ntense.
º0¨ • . 0 mph
B0¨ . l 75
70¨ . 340
ó0¨ . 500
50� ó40
40¨ . 770
30¨. B55
20¨ . º40
l 0`. ºB5
. l 000
Approxi mate speeds of
the earth' s rotati on at
vari ous l atitudes.
EARTH' S ROTATI ON AND WI NDS If the earth were
not rotati ng, heated ai r woul d ri se over the equator and
move north and south hi gh above t he eart h's surface. I t
woul d cool and si nk down at the pol es. The si nki ng ai r
woul d force ai r at t he earth' s surface toward t he equator.
So surface wi nds on a smooth non-rotati ng earth woul d al l
move di rectl y toward the equator wi th equal speed (see
p. 1 0) .
The earth' s rotati on changes this. The earth at the
equator i s about 25,000 mi l es around. The earth makes
one <ompl ete rotati on every 24 hours. Hence every poi nt
on the equator moves eastward at a l ittl e more t han 1 ,000
mph. But every pl ace north or south of the equator moves
more sl owl y to the east, si mpl y because the di stance
around the earth becomes l ess as you go north or south
of the equator. At l ati tude 45°, exactl y hal fway between
the equator and the pol es, the earth spi ns eastward at
about 700 mph. At the pol es there i s no movement at al l,
si nce these are the ends of the earth' s axi s.
These di ferences i n t he earth' s speed of rotati on at
vari ous l ati tudes have a marked efect on our wi nds, as
we shal l now see.
SPHERE i s caused by the earth' s rotati on, as an experi ­
ment wi l l demonstrate.
Pl ace an ol d phonograph record on the turntabl e. The
hol e at the center represents the Noth Pol e; the ri m, the
equator. Now spi n the turntabl e sl owl y by hand counter­
cl ockwi se, the way the earth turns as vi ewed from above
the North Pol e. As the record turns, draw a l i ne wi th
chal k from the center hol e strai ght away from you to the
"equator" edge. See how the "easterl y" rotati ng record
causes the chal k l i ne to curve to its right ( "west" as seen
from above). In the di agram, the dotted l i ne shows the
actual path of your chal k; the sol id l i ne, the mark i t made
on the record. Repeal the experi ment, but draw a strai ght
l i ne from t he ri m of the record to the center. Agai n the
chal k mark shows a curve to the ri ght.
Wi nds on earth shift to the ri ght exactl y l i ke the chal k
l i ne, and for the same reason. I magi ne a wi nd from the
north, starti ng at Chi cago ( l ati tude 45°) . The top drawi ng
on the next page shows thi s wi nd bl owi ng strai ght south
as vi ewed from above the North Pol e. I t moves i n a
strai ght l i ne toward star P, and poi nt A on the equator.
But as the wi nd moves south, the earth (and poi nt A al ong
wi t h i t ) i s movi ng eastward. So the strai ght pat h, as seen
from space, becomes a curved path to the ri ght as seen
by an observer on the earth' s surface.
Wi nd defection i l l ustrated by phonograph recor d:
Drawi ngs 1 , 2, 3 show the wi nd
shift as you woul d see i t from
space over the equator. The draw­
i ngs show meri di ans ( i magi nary
l i nes marki ng the earth i nto sec­
ti ons, l i ke an orange). The north
wi nd starts south al ong Meri di an
A. It moves in a straight l i ne
di rectl y toward the equator. As
the wi nd moves fr om l ati tude 45°
to 30°, earth' s eastward rotati on
moves Meri di an A to your ri ght,
and Meri di an B moves to a posi­
tion di rectl y under you. By the
t i me the wi nd has reached the
equator, Meri di an B has moved
east and has been repl aced by
Meri di an C. As seen from space,
the wi nd sti l l moves di rectl y south.
But to a man on the earth, the
wi nd has taken a curved path and
i s now a northeast wi nd.
Wi nds movi ng northward, al so,
curve to thei r ri ght. This shift
hel ps expl ai n the general ci rcu­
l ati on of ai r over the earth.
In the southern hemisphere this
efect i s exactl y reversed and
wi nds shift t o the l eft. To see
why, repeat the experi ment on
p. 54. Thi s ti me, however, turn
the record cl ockwise, as if you
were l ooki ng down on the earth
from above the South Pol e.
Path over rotati ng earth.
North wi nd at Chi cago . . .
shifts to its ri ght becomi ng NE.
HEMI SPHERE begi n wi th ai r movi ng north hi gh above
the equator, and sl owl y shifti ng toward the east because
of the earth' s rotati on. By the ti me thi s upper ai r has
gone about one-thi rd of the way from the equator to
the North Pol e, i t is movi ng eastward. As more ai r from
the equator arcs north and east i nto thi s regi on, about
l ati tude 30°, it pi l es up, formi ng an area of hi gh pressure.
Some ai r i s forced down to the surface of the erth. There
a porti on fows southward, turni ng west as it goes. Thi s
porti on forms the so-cal l ed "trade wi nds" that bl ow
rather steadi l y from the northeast. But some of the descend­
i ng ai r moves northward and is defected to the east. Thi s
ai r forms the prevai l i ng wester l ies whi ch bl ow over the
mi ddl e l ati tudes ( 30° to 60°N) .
Not al l of the hi gh ai r si nks to the surface at l ati tude
30°. Some of i t conti nues north, hi gh above the earth.
I t cool s by radi ati on as i t goes, and fnal l y contracts and
becomes so heavy that i t si nks down near t he North Pol e.
The pressure bui l ds up i n t hat regi on, and the col d, heavy
ai r moves southward on the surface, shifti ng toward the
west as i t goes. At about l ati tude 60°, i t runs i nto the
prevai l i ng wester l i es travel i ng. northeast. The l i ne of col l i ­
si on is cal l ed the "pol ar front. " The warm ai r from the
south pushes up i n a wedge over the col d, south-movi ng,
pol ar ai r. The ri si ng warm ai r i s rapi dl y cool ed, and un­
settl ed weather conditi ons resul t. Thi s pol ar front i s the
source of much of the changi ng weather i n the Uni ted
States. The ai r mass breaks through i n col d waves that
may move as far south as Fl ori da and Mexi co.
pol ar
easterl i es
N. P.
S. P.
weather, are modi fed by many thi ngs, s uch as wi nds
caused by uneven l ocal heati ng, diferences i n heat
absorpti on of oceans and l and, and seasonal changes.
But some general condi ti ons are worth noti ng-as, for
exampl e, that the ci rcul ati on i n the southern hemi sphere
Note reversal of wi nds
i n southern hemi sphere
is the opposite of ci rcul ati on i n
the northern. Wi nds shift to the
l eft for the same reason that wi nds
north of the equator shift to the
right. Northern hemi sphere wi nd
patterns exist i n the southern hem­
i sphere, but reversed. Each pat­
tern has its near counterpart in
the southern hemi sphere.
The Equatori al Dol drums As su rface ai r
moves toward the equator wi t h the north and
south trade wi nds, i t i s heated by the di rect
rays of the sun, and rises. Ri si ng ai r creates
the equatori al cal ms, or dol drums. Day after
day, week after week may go by without a
breeze. Sai l i ng shi ps avoi ded thi s regi on
when possi bl e. F rom t he ri si ng moist ai r of
thi s regi on tropi cal typhoons, or h urri canes,
are born i n summer ( p. 1 07) . Here al so oc·
curs heavy tropi cal rai nfal l .
The Trade Wi nds are wel l named, for these
steady northeast wi nds marked a popul ar
route f or sai l i ng vessel s. Even now, ai rcraft
travel i ng west in this zone have a tai l wi nd
much of t he ti me. Ski es ore cl ear near l oti·
tude 30
but cl oudi ness and heavy, frequent,
showery rai nfal l occur nearer t he equator,
where the air ri ses at the dol drum zone.
The Horse Latitudes are another regi on
of cal m. As the ai r si nks, and thus warms
adi abati cal l y, ski es tend to be cl oudl ess.
Wi nds ore weak and undependabl e. The
term "horse l ati tudes" apparentl y ori g·
i nated because soi l i ng shi ps carryi ng horses
from Spai n to the New Worl d often became
becal med and ron out of food and water
for the ani mal s. The sea was someti mes l it·
tered with bodi es of starved horses which
had been t hrown overboard.
The Prevai l i ng Westerl i es The maj or
ai r fow over t he United States is from sl i ghtl y
south of west to sl i ghtl y north of west. Were
i t not for t he repeated i nvasi ons of col d ai r
from the pol ar front, and compl icati ons caused
by ai r bei ng forced over mountai ns, weather
i n the Uni ted Stales woul d be rat her stabl e
because of these wi nds-fai r weather and
cl ear ski es al ternati ng with steady rai ns as
t he ai r moved nor t h and sl owl y cool ed. But
the pol ar f r ont and ot her factors cause
rapi d and often vi ol ent weather changes.
The Polar Easterl i es Bounded on the
south by t he pol ar front, the zone of the
pol ar easterl i es i s one of col d ai r movi ng
southwest unti l i t r uns i nto t he prevai l i ng
westerl i es. The front itsel f moves as these two
ai r masses push back and forth. At the front,
warm, moi st ai r from t he south is l i fted over
the heavi er, col d ai r. Bad weather results.
Hi ghs and Lows
HI GHS AND LOWS Unequal heati ng of the earth
between the equator and the pol es causes north-south
wi nds. Rotati on of the earth turns these east or westward,
dependi ng on the hemi sphere. Thi s shifti ng of great
masses of movi ng ai r creates the overal l pattern of ai r
ci rcul ati on. But i t does somethi ng el se. I t creates whi rl i ng
mosses of ai r cal l ed hi gh- pressure cel l s, or highs, and
l ow-pressure cel l s, or lows. The hi ghs (anti cycl ones) gen­
eral l y bri ng fai r weather. The l ows (cycl ones) bri ng un­
settl ed weather. I n the regi on of the prevai l i ng westerl ies
( l ati tude 30° to 60°) high cel l s fol l ow a general path from
west to east ( moved by the prevai l i ng westerl ies) and
al ternate wi th l ow cel l s whi ch they generate and dri ve
al ong. The tabl e bel ow summarizes the i mportant facts:
Circul ation:
Wi nds:
General l y fai r
Cl ockwise i n northern
hemi sphere
Countercl ockwise i n
sou'lhern hemi sphere
Li ght
Temperature: War m or col d for rel a­
tivel y l ong peri ods wi th­
out change
General ly cl oudy, wi th
rai n or snow
Countercl ockwise i n
nort hern hemisphere
Cl ockwise i n southern
hemi sphere
Tropi cal l ows very warm.
Other l ows col d, or warm
changi ng to col d
HOW HI GHS ARE BORN local hi gh- pressure areas
may devel op any pl ace where ai r cool s, compresses, an d
si nks. Most i mportant i n t h e northern hemi sphere are t he
t wo l arge, wel l -defi ned hi gh- pressure regi ons: t he horse
l ati tudes and the pol ar hi gh. I n both pl aces, ai r accumu­
l ates, becomes heavy, and settl es t o eart h.
As a mass of ai r sett l es over an area favorabl e for
devel opment of a hi gh, i t sl owl y devel ops i nto a cl ockwi se­
spi ra l i ng anti cycl one, or hi gh- pressure cel l . Ai r fows from
the hi gh- pressure area i nto t he surroundi ng area of l ower
pressure. As it pushes out, i t is twi sted to i ts ri ght by the
earth' s rotat i on. Ai r movi ng north shifts to the east; ai r
movi ng sout h shifts t o t he west. The resu l t i s t he formati on
of a whi r l i ng hi gh- pressure cel l . Such cel l s, formi ng north
of the pol ar front, repeatedl y sweep southward. Hi ghs
may extend to Mexi co and the Gul f i n wi nter. They are
usual l y several hundred mi l es i n di ameter but vary i n
si ze. A l arge hi gh- pressure cel l may cover the enti re
Un i ted States east of the Rocki es.
HI GHS I f the earth were compl etel y covered wi th water
(see above), there woul d be permanent l ow- pressure
bands at the equator and at about l atitude 60° because
of the ri si ng ai r at these pl aces. There woul d be perma­
nent h igh- pressure bel ts of si nki ng ai r at the horse l ati tudes
and the pol es. But sol ar radi ati on heats oceans and l and
masses di ferentl y. Thi s and seasonal heat changes make
the actual condi ti ons quite compl ex. As exampl es, t he
col dest regi on i n wi nter i s not over t he North Pol e but
over Si beri a, about l ati tude 70° N. The average tempera­
ture of San Franci sco i n J ul y i s l ower than at Fai rbanks,
Al aska. I n summer the l and i s rel ativel y warm and the
oceans cool .
Because of these factors, hi gh- pressure zones form i n a
spotty fashi on i nstead of in wi de bel ts. I n the northern
hemi sphere, they form al most enti rel y over the cool
oceans-particu l arl y in summer, when the l and i s warm.
The maps show thi s. The two "permanent" h ighs that
cover the eastern parts of both Paci fc and Atl anti c are
the Pacif1 c and Azores anticycl ones. But keep i n mi nd
t hat i ndivi dual hi ghs move wi th t he general ci rcul ati on of
the eart h-northeast between l ati tude 30 6 and 60°, and
southwest between l ati tude 60° and t he pol e.
Normal position of hi ghs ( H) and
l ows ( L ) i n the northern hemisphere

Ai r fows from hi gh pressure to
low, l i ke water downhi l l .
The earth ' s rotation makes northern
hemi sphere ai r spi ral cl ockwi se.
WI ND MOVEMENTS WITHI N HI GHS fol l ow a normal
fl ow from hi gh pressure t o l ow pressure, j ust as water
fl ows down a hi l l . But the fow i s modi fed by the earth's
rotati on.
The di agr am at l eft shows t he si tuati on t hat woul d exi st
i f the earth di d not rotate. Note the "i sobars" ( l i nes con­
necti ng al l pl aces of equal pressure), as t hey appear on
weather maps. The numbers refer to ai r pressure i n " mi l l i ­
bars" ( uni ts of pressure used by meteorol ogists) . The
hi gher t he number, the greater the pressure. Standard
average sea- l evel pressure is 1,013 mi l l i bars. On a non­
rotati ng earth, wi nds fr om a hi gh wou l d move out across
the i sobars in al l di recti ons.
The di agram at ri ght shows how the eart h' s rotati on
twi sts the outfowi ng ai r so that wi nds begi n to fl ow
around the i sobars as if water were fowi ng down the si des
of a spi nni ng hi l l . Note the changes i n di recti on as the
earth' s rotati on twists the wi nds to thei r ri ght.
(si de view) HI GH

WI ND VELOCI TI ES I N HI GHS I sobars resembl e the
l i nes on contour maps. I nstead of al ti tudes, they show
pressure i ntensi ty. Where i sobars are cl ose together, the
pressure changes rapi dl y and wi nds are fast. Where they
ar e far apart, wi nds are comparati vel y sl ow.
Winds on the ground and wi nds al oft At about
2, 000 ft. above the ground, wi nds fol l ow isobars cl osel y
and do not spi ral outward appreci abl y as they do at
the surface; they ar e governed pr i mar i l y by the earth' s
rotati on, and are not afected by fri cti on wi th the ground.
But wi nds on t he ground are sl owed by surface fri cti on .
The earth's rotati onal efect i s reduced, s o ai r conti nues to
spi ral out under pressure from the center. The angl e at
whi ch wi nds bl ow across i sobars vari es from about 10°
over ocean to 45° or more over rough l and. So wi nds
overhead general l y move 45° to the ri ght of t hei r di rec­
ti on on the gr ound and move about twi ce as fast.
Winds aloft blow about 45
to the right of those on ground.
eral l y bri ng fai r weather; l ows, poor weather. So i t i s
useful to know whether a hi gh or l ow i s comi ng your way.
Thi s can be done wi th fai r accuracy by the appl i cati on of
a si mpl e r ul e. Stand wi th your back to the wi nd. Turn
about 45° to your ri ght; now your back i s to the wi nd as
i t i s bl owi ng wel l above the ground. The hi gh- pressure
center i s to your ri ght, the l ow-pressure center to your l eft.
Thi s r ul e hol ds for the northern hemi sphere and i s qui te
accurate for general wi nds. | t wi l l not hol d for l ocal
breezes caused by unequal heati ng ( l and and sea breezes,
for exampl e) . I n the southern hemi sphere, the di recti ons
are reversed: the hi gh pressure i s on your l eft, the l ow on
your ri ght.
Si nce both hi ghs and l ows travel general l y i n an east­
ward di recti on, in the zone of prevai l i ng wester l i es, any
h igh or l ow to your west wi l l l i kel y move over you. But
her e i s wher e uncertai nty enters. Hi ghs and l ows may re­
mai n stati onary, fade out, or move to the north or south.
So our rul e has but l i mi ted useful ness. Once you've mas­
tered the facts about ai r masses and fronts ( pp. 68-94)
and l earned to read weather maps (pp. 1 30- 1 46), you can
use thi s general r ul e more j udi ci ousl y.

LOWS ARE FORMED by a hori ­
zontal wavel i ke acti on between two
highs of di ferent temperatures (1 ) .
The wave gets l arger and fnal l y
breaks l i ke an ocean wave. The
whi r l i ng ai r creates a l ow-pressure
cel l . Thi s compl i cated process whi ch
forms maj or l ows is discussed wi th
fronts (pp. 77-94).

col d ai �
A l ocal l ow may form when ai r
under a l arge cumu l oni mbus cl oud
i s rapi dl y ri si ng ( 2). Thi s l ow-pres-
sure area i s fi l l ed b, surroundi ng
ai r movi ng i n and twi sti ng counter­
cl ockwi se because of the earth' s
rotation. Such cycl ones are about
20 mi l es i n di ameter.
A heat l ow devel ops over deserts
and other i ntensel y heated pl aces:
The hot ai r expands, ri ses, and
fows outward hi gher up; t hus l ess
ai r pi l es up i n the area. Pressure
drops, and surroundi ng ai r rushes
i n wi th a swi r l i ng moti on (3). Such
a l ow l asts most of the summer i n
southwester n Ari zona and south­
eastern Cal i forni a. Dust devi l s are
smal l -scal e heat l ows.
Someti mes l ows form on the l ee-
ward si de of mountai n ranges,
where they may cause weather di s­
turbances (4). Frequentl y they form
east of the Rockies i n Col orado
and i n the Texas Panhandl e.

�warm ai r
Ai r mass properties at any l evel (such as A or B) are si mi l ar.
Ai r Masses
"Ai r mass," a term in constant use, means " hi gh- pressure
cel l , " but thi s term carri es a di ferent emphasi s. An ai r
mass i s a vast body of ai r (often coveri ng hundreds of
thousands of square mi l es) i n whi ch t he condi ti ons of tem­
perature and moi sture are much the same at al l poi nts i n
a hori zontal di recti on. An ai r mass ( anti cyc l one or hi gh)
takes on t he temperature and moi sture characteri sti cs of
the surface over whi ch i t forms. For exampl e, an air mass
for mi ng over northern Canada and the Arcti c in wi nter i s
very col d and dry because of the l ow temperature and
humi dity there.
The United States i s swept by ai r masses of great con­
trasts. The North Ameri can conti nent i s wi de at the top.
Col d, dry ai r masses conti nual l y form there and move
southward. The southern part of the conti nent i s nar row.
The moi st, hot tropi cal ai r masses whi ch form over the
oceans can easi l y move north. When a hot, moi st mass
meets a col d, dry mass, a weather "front" (pp. 77-94)
usual l y devel ops.
across the country and carry wi th them the temperature
and moi sture of thei r ori gi n. An ai r mass i s modi fed by
the surface over whi ch i t moves, but i t s ori gi nal charac­
teri sti cs tend to persi st.
Air masses come from ei ther of two sources: tropi cal
regi ons or pol ar regi ons. On weather charts, tropi cal ai r
masses are marked T, pol ar ones P. The t wo types of
surfaces over whi ch these are formed are the conti nental
(c) and oceani c or mari ti me ( m) . Pol ar ai r formed over
oceans i s marked mP; pol ar ai r formed over l and i s marked
cP. Fi nal l y, a thi rd l etter i s added to i ndi cate whether ai r
is col der ( k) or warmer ( w) than the surface over whi ch
it i s movi ng. So i f pol ar, conti nental ai r wer e movi ng over
ground warmer t han itsel f, it woul d be marked cPk.
At l east three di ferent ai r-mass cl assi fcati on systems
are used by U. S. weather experts, but they need not
concern us here. Bel ow are the pri nci pal ai r masses that
afect our weather, and thei r typi cal paths. Note that the
ai r- mass paths starti ng i n the north are pol ar ( P) ; those
from the south are tropi cal (T).
Typi cal paths of ai r masses aver the Un i ted States
Sun' s energy goes a few i nches Heat needed to mel t i ce del ays
i nto soi l , but deep i nto ocean. the· seasons over the oceans.
i n temperature and humi dity, so conti nental ai r br i ngs
weather very di ferent fr om mar i t i me ai r. Land and sea
refect sol ar radi ati on di ferentl y (p. 7). More heat i s
needed to rai se water temperature than to rai se l and
temperature. Onl y the t op few i nches of s ol i d earth ab­
sorb radi ati on, whi l e oceans absorb heat to a dept h of
80 ft. or more. Fi nal l y, ocean turbu l ence carri es heat even
The resul t of al l thi s i s that oceans are sl ower to warm
up an d to cool than l and. Oceans l ag behi nd cont i nents
by one or two mont hs i n thei r response to seasonal
changes. Furthermore, t her e i s l ess t han l 8° F di ference
between average wi nter and summer temperature over
most open ocean areas! Thi s thermal l ag and i ts moderat­
i ng efects ari se because much spri ng heat on the ocean
is used in mel t i ng i ce in arctic and antarcti c oceans. As
much heat is requi red to mel t a pound of i ce at 32 ° to
water at 32 ° F as is requi red to heat a pound of water
from 32 ° to 1 76° F. Thus oceans warm sl owl y i n spr i ng
and cool sl owl y i n fal l because the same gr eat amount
of heat i s thrown of as arctic water freezes. Thi s heat
warms t he ai r and causes a l ag i n the comi ng of col d
weather. Thus, mari ti me ai r t ends to moderate extremes
of ei ther heat or col d as i t moves over t he l and.
Ai r
col d
Stobi e: thermodynami cal l y
warm ai r mass
_ 1col d| _
1 Î T J
Unstabl e: thermodynami cal l y
col d ai r mass
deter mi nes what weather ai r masses br i ng. Vertical ai r
currents ar e created by mountai ns, or by heati ng or
cool i ng of ai r by contact wi th t he s urface. Stabl e ai r
resi sts these verti cal currents and qui ckl y ret urns t o nor­
mal . Unstabl e ai r al l ows the verti cal currents to grow.
An ai r mass movi ng over a surface col der than itsel f
i s thermodynami cal l y war m. Such an ai r mass i s stabl e.
An ai r mass movi ng over a surface warmer t han i tsel f i s
thermodynami cal l y col d and i s general l y unstabl e.
A thermodynamical l y war m ai r mas s is cool ed by con­
tact wi th the col der earth bel ow. The cool ed, heavy, l ower
surface tends to stay at the bottom. I f l ifted, i t s i nks back.
Buf when a thermodynami cal l y col d ai r mass i s warmed
by contact wi th the eart h, the warm, l i ght ai r ri ses through
the col d ai r above. So a thermodynami cal l y col d ai r mass
is t urbul ent, wi th cumul us-type cl ouds.
Stabi l ity Turbul ence Su rface Cl ouds Preci pitation
vi si bi l ity (if any) ( i f any)
unstabl e t ur bul ent good cumul us t hunder.
gusty forms showers
stabl e steady poor stratus dri zzl e
wi nds forms
Typi cal paths af cP ai r.
cP ai r-snow in Cal i forni a.
Typi cal paths of mP ai r.
Conti nental Pol ar ( cP) ai r masses are
extremely col d. When travel i ng over warm­
er surfaces they are conti nental pol ar col d
( cPk). These ai r masses are unstabl e ( p. 7 1 )
and fyi ng i n the l ower l evel s i s t urbul ent.
Thei r most common path i s marked "A"
i n the map. As cPk ai r goes over the Great
Lakes (particul arl y before they are frozen) ,
i ts l ower parts are warmed and moi stened
by the water at about 33
to 38
F. Thi s
warmed ai r rises through col der upper ai r,
causi ng snow furri es or showers on the
l eeward si de of the l akes. A l ocal ity on the
eastern shore of the Lakes wi l l have three
to fve times as much snow in a wi nter as
one on the western shore. Pushed hi gher
over the Appal achi ans, the cPk ai r i s adi­
abatical l y cool ed further, and more pre­
ci pitation results. Hence ski es are general l y
cl ear east of the Appal achi ans as t he rel ­
ativel y dry air sinks and warms.
Someti mes cP ai r takes Path B on our
map. The ai r i s turbul ent; cumul us cl ouds
may form. But the l ack of warm l akes and
of mountai ns on Path B means general l y
cl earer ski es t han when cP ai r is movi ng
al ong path A. The thi rd path, C, i s rare. On
thi s pat h, cP ai r hi t s the ocean and col l ects
moisture. I t brings squal l s and even snow
as far south as southern Cal i forni a.
Maritime Pol ar ( mP) ai r may t ake a rel ­
ati vel y short tri p over the Paci fc ( Path 1 ,
a t l eft) before hi tti ng t he Coast. Rai n or
snow showers are common as the ai r i s l i ft­
ed over coastal ranges. It can al so go
over the Rockies to stagnate i n the Mack­
enzi e val l ey, becomi ng cP. If mP air i s over
the ocean l onger (Path 2) , i t wi l l warm up
and get weller. Such ai r masses are com-
PÎ K NPbbbb
mon on t h e Paci fc Coast i n wi nter. They
cool on contact wi th the l and; rai n and
f og resul t.
Mari ti me Pol ar ai r ri si ng over the moun­
tai ns produces cl ouds and heavy preci pi ta­
ti on on wi ndward sl opes. I t may stagnate
between coastal mountai ns and the Rockies
in the Great Basin regi on. I f i t goes east
over t he Rockies, i t worms as i t descends
the east sl opes, and bri ngs cl ear ski es, l ow
humi di ty, and mi l d weather.
Mari ti me Tropi cal ( mT) ai r i s hot and
humi d at i ts source. Bei ng hotter t han the
l and su rface of t he Uni ted States, i t i s
stabl e (mTw). Stratus or stratocumul us
cl ouds often f or m, mostl y duri ng ni ght cool ­
i ng. These tend to di sappear by noon be­
cause of warmi ng. Li ttl e or no preci pi tati on
occurs un l ess mT ai r runs i nto a col d ai r
mass. Then warm, l i ght mT ai r rises over
the col d ai r and preci pi tati on resul ts. Thi s
happens often ( p. 86), account i ng for more
rai n i n the Uni ted States than any other
cause. But mT ai r sel dom moves over the
north or northeast part of the United States
i n wi nter. When i t does, the col d l and sur­
face may cause extensi ve fog. It can al so
cause dense ocean fogs as it crosses the
l i ne di vi di ng the Gul f Stream from the col d
waters of the North Atl anti c.
Mari ti me Tropi cal ai r rarel y enters the
Uni ted States vi a t he Paci fc Coast. I t does
so onl y when extremel y l ow pressu re exi sts
of Cal i forni a. Then the warm, moi st mT ai r
moves i n and ri ses rapi dl y over the heavi er,
col der ai r i t encounters, or over the Si erra
Nevada and other western ranges. I n ei ther
case, despi te its stabi l ity, the mT ai r pro­
duces heavy rai nfal l i n southern Cal i forni a.
mP ai r-West Coast fog.
mP-cl ear east of Rocki es.

Typi cal paths of mT ai r .
mT ai r
col d ai r
mT over col d ai r-rai n.
mT ai r-rai n on mountai ns.
Summer cP ai r usual l y
bri ngs fai r weather.
Summer mP ai r bri ngs fog
to the Cal iforni a coast.
Col d up-wel l i ng
for ni a coast.
Conti nental Pol ar (cP) ai r in summer
di fers from cP ai r i n wi nter. The sou rce
regi ons are warmer and the general cir­
cul ati on of the atmosphere is weaker be­
cause there is l ess temperature di ference
between pol ar and tropi cal regi ons. Ai r
moves sl owl y over the Uni ted States. Fai r
weather prevai l s; a few cumul us cl ouds ar e
prod uced by l ocal heati ng. Rai ns occur
over the Gr eat lakes and i n the eastern
mountai ns.
Pacifc Coast mP ai r i n summer · pro­
duces sea and coastal fog i n Cal i forni a.
Moi st mari ti me ai r passes over a col d ocean
surface of the coast. Cool ed u nderneath,
the mP ai r produces dense sea fog, whi ch
rol l s i nl and and may hang on for weeks.
Farther i nl and, mP ai r i s wormed qui ckl y
by contaot wi th the l and; so its rel ative
humi dity d raps. Al though the air is un­
stabl e, its humi dity i s s a l ow t hat s ki es re­
main clear from areas j ust i nsi de the coast­
l i ne to the Si erras, on whose west sl ope
showers may lal l .
The col d ocean surface that causes West
Coast fogs is a resul t of the " u pwel l i ng"
af su bsurface waters. Fri cti on of the pre­
vai l i ng northwest wi nd over t he Paci fc
pushes coastal surface waters Ia i ts ri ght:
that is, toward the southwest. The resul t :
the cal der subsurface wat er ri ses or wel l s
up. Thi s col der water cool s the ai r above
it, produci ng fag and stratus whi ch may
then move in over the coastal regi on, pro­
duci ng cool weather and i nterferi ng wi th
fyi ng.
Atl antic Coast mP ai r in summer forms
over col d North Atl anti c waters. I t i s col der
t han the cP or mT ai r whi ch general l y
sweeps the eastern states. mP ai r occasi on­
al ly fows i n over l and. When i t does, i t
bri ngs cool weather whi ch someti mes may
reach as far south as Fl ori da. I f mP makes
contact wi th mT ai r from the south, frontal
weather (typi cal l y l ow stratus cl ouds and
dri zzl e) occurs as the mT ai r is l i fted and
coal ed.
Mari ti me Tropi cal ( mT) ai r formed aver
the Paci fc is of l i ttl e i mportance i n summer.
I t does came i nl and and may go as far
north as Al aska. But it i s nearl y al ways
mTw, sa i t i s stabl e and general l y bri ngs
l ittl e di st urbance.
Atl anti c mT ai r, on the other hand, is
more i mportant i n summer than i n wi nter.
Central and Eastern stales are afected, as
is someti mes the Southwest. Atlanti c mT ai r
moves al most conti nuously over t he Central
and Eastern stales i n summer, bri ngi ng hu­
mi dity and oppressive heal.
mT air formed i n the Caribbean i s
extremel y hot and humi d i n summer. I t is
unstabl e as i t comes in over the hotter
southern coastal stales. As l and coal s rapi d­
l y at ni ght, the ai r' s stabi l ity i ncreases and
stratocumul us cl ouds form, wi t h bases near
the gr ound. These cl ouds usual l y cl ear by
mi d-morni ng as the l and agai n warms and
heals t he ai r . F urther heati ng, l at er i n t he
day, i ncreases i nstabi l i ty agai n and show·
ers and t hunderstorms may resul t from
rapi dl y ri si ng moi st ai r that cool s to bel ow
its saturati on poi nt.
Typi cal path of Atl anti c
coast mP ai r.
Atl anti c mT ai r bri ngs heal
and humi di ty to the East.
Cari bbean mT ai r bri ngs
showers to the South.
warmed by ocean;
wat er added
Pol ar ai r masses may undergo great changes.
POLAR AIR MASSES change rapi dl y as they sweep
over the United States. cP ai r is i ni ti al l y col der t han l and
over whi ch i t travel s, so bottom l ayers are war med by
the ear t h and ri se, creati ng turbul ence, cumul us c l ouds,
and preci pi tati on . The ai r i s further warmed by heat of
condensati on. Thus pol ar air tends to mix and get war m.
The map shows changes i n wi nter ai r starti ng i n Si ber i a
as a dry cP ai r mass. Warmed and moi stened by t he
ocean, i t becomes mP ai r . Cool i ng by passage over l and
and mountai ns causes it t o dr op i ts moi sture and i t con­
ti nues on as dry, rel ati vel y war m ai r.
TROPI CAL AIR MASSES change s l owl y because they
are warmer t han l and over whi ch they travel . The map
shows t he path of hot
moist mT ai r. Bottom l ayers,
cool ed by l and do not ri se-there i s no mi xi ng. Further
cool i ng by Eastern mountai ns or l akes i ncreases stabi l ity
further. mT ai r usual l y remai ns the same for a l ong ti me­
hot summer days in the Mi dwest and East go on and on.
Tropi cal ai r masses us ual l y change s l i ghtl y.
cool ed i f
cool ed by g round
cool ed by l i fti ng
over mountai ns
Fronts and Frontal
FRONTS form when ai r masses col l i de, for ai r masses
do not mix unl ess they are very si mi l ar i n temperature
and moi sture content. What usual l y happens i s the forma­
ti on of a boundary, or front. The col der ai r mass pushes
under the warm one and l i fts i t. Then, i f t he bound­
ary doesn' t move, the fr ont becomes stati onary. More
commonl y i t does move, and one ai r mass pushes the
other al ong. I f the col d mass pushes the warm ai r back, we
have a col d front; such a front i s pi ctured above. I f the
col d ai r retreats, warm ai r pushi ng over i t gi ves us a
warm front. I n ei ther case, frontal weather is ei ther un­
settl ed or stormy. Fronts usual l y bri ng bad weather.

Looki ng down on a front (outl i ned orea enl arged bel ow) .
FRONT FACTS At the top of thi s page we are l ook­
i ng down a front. A warm hi gh i s to the ri ght, a col d
hi gh at the l eft. Arrows show tle wi nd di recti ons; i sobar
l i nes show pressure i n mi l l i bars. At the bottom i s a bl ock
vi ew of the same front. li ne A- B has the same posi ti on i n
each di agram. Si x facts, true of al l fronts, are apparent:
( 1 ) Fronts for m at mar gi ns of hi gh- pressure cel l s. (2) Fronts
form onl y between cel l s of di ferent temperatures. (3)
Warm air al ways sl opes upward over col d ai r . (4) A front
i s found al ong a l ow-pressure trough (few excepti ons), so
pressure drops as the front approaches, rises after it
passes. (5) Wi nd near ground al ways shifts cl ockwi se ( i n
the northern hemi sphere) as the front passes. (6) A front
al ways sl opes upward over col d ai r ei ther ahead of or to
the rear of i ts di recti on of advance.
col d
hi gh
Three-di mensi onal enl argement of area outl i ned above.
hi gh
�� l ow-pressure
, ð


�� B

Pol ar front ( dark bl ue l i ne) , shown at l eft in theoreti cal posi ti on, often
breaks t hrough ( ri ght). Arrows show wind fow.
60°, condi ti ons are i deal for a permanent front. Prevai l i ng
westerl i es fr om the southwest ( r ed arrows) run i nto pol ar
easter l i es ( bl ue arrows) fr om the northeast. The pol ar ai r i s
col d, t he westerl i es rel ati vel y warm. But t he posi ti on of the
pol ar front that forms is not stati c. Pressure bui l ds up near
the pol e, and the pol ar ai r breaks t hr ough to for m the
masses of cP or mP ai r that move over North Ameri ca.
Weather, especial l y i n the central and eastern states, i s
i nfuenced by movements of thi s pol ar front.
The so-cal l ed equatori al front ( i ntertropi cal converg­
ence zone) i s not a true front, for temperatures to the
north and south are about the same. But i n l ate summer
the zone moves north. A real l i ne of weather acti vity may
t hen devel op-whi ch accounts i n part for hurri canes.
The bl ack l i ne shows t he posi ti on of the i ntertropi cal convergence zone
i n Febr uary ( l eft) and September ( ri ght).
IN WI NTER maj or fronts form and move di ferent l y t han
i n summer. The di ference is due t o the l oweri ng of pres­
sure i n summer as conti nents warm up. Wi nter fronts move
far south; col d pol ar ai r pushes to Fl ori da or farther.
Strong wi nd and temperature di ferences of l and and sea
push fronts back and forth. The most acti ve fronts of the
northern hemi sphere form ( 1 ) i n northwest parts of the
Paci fc, from Al euti an l ow-pressure troughs, and (2) i n
northwest parts of the Atl ant ic, from the I cel andi c l ow.
East of the Rocki es, fronts move general l y southeastward
bri ngi ng changi ng weather.
Dark bl ue l i nes are zones of front formation.
I N SUMMER maj or fronts in the northern hemi sphere
form and move l i ke those of wi nter. But fronts do not move
so far sout h. They are much weaker than wi nter fronts
because of the warmi ng and expansi on of the ai r by the
warm conti nents. Hel d back by prevai l i ng westerl i es,
summer fronts do not often bul ge down over the southern
United States. Mari ti me tropi cal ai r often swel l s far north,
bathi ng most of the Uni ted States i n hot, sti cky weather.
When a front does move south, rel ief tends to be short­
l i ved, and the front i s soon pushed north agai n by mari ­
ti me tropi cal ai r.
At t hi s ti me the zones of formati on are fart her north .
Three-di mensi onal view of a ra. pi dl y movi ng col d front_
ci rrus
warm ai r
Actual sl ope of O col d front ( bl ue wedge). left end of bl ack l i ne i s
COLD FRONTS wedge t hei r way under warm ai r as they
advance. The typical thi ck wedge of a col d front devel ops
as fri cti on wi th the ground hol ds back the bottom of the
advanci ng mass of col d ai r. So the col d ai r al oft tends to
pi l e i nto a rounded prow as i t advances agai nst warm ai r.
The l ong wedge di agram above shows the act ual sl ope.
I n the northern hemi sphere, maj or col d fronts usual l y
l i e in a northeast to southwest di recti on and move toward
t he east or southeast. The reason i s apparent from the
maps on pp. 80-8 1 . Here al l col d, pol ar ai r i s col ored bl ue.
As t he general movement i s east, the col d ai r masses ad­
vance i n that di recti on. Note that col d fronts (easterl y
edges of col d ai r masses) are al most al ways ori ented north­
east to southwest.
Col d fronts usual l y advance at speeds of about 20 mph
-faster i n wi nter than i n summer, because i n wi nter the ai r
i s col der and exerts greater pressure.
Al though the sl opi ng edge of a col d front may extend
over several hundred mi l es hori zontal l y, t he steepness of
the advanci ng edge means t hat frontal weather i s l i mi ted
to an extremel y nar row band ( cl ouds i n the drawi ng above
are greatl y exaggerated hori zontal l y). The steep sl opi ng
edge al so produces abrupt l ifti ng of warm ai r, so t hat
storms at a col d front are general l y bri ef t hough vi ol ent.
Sl ow-movi ng col d front l ifti ng stabl e ai r.
al tostratus
warm ai r
l mi l e above ground-front i s on surface ( ri ght) 1 00 mi l es away.
Weather at sl owl y movi ng col d fronts di fers from
weather accompanyi ng r api dl y movi ng fronts. I f the warm
ai r i s stabl e, ni mbostratus cl ouds wi l l form al most di rectl y
over t he front' s contact wi th the ground, and rai n wi l l fal l
through t he col d mass after the front has passed. If the
col d front i s weak, nei ther r ai n nor cl ouds may form.
I f unstabl e and very humi d ai r i s pushed over a sl owl y
movi ng col d front, cumul oni mbus cl ouds wi l l form an d
t hundershowers may fal l . But t h e chief rai nfa l l wi l l be
through the col d mass after the front has passed. Typi cal l y,
a steady downpour from ni mbostratus cl ouds at the l ower
l evel s al ter nates wi th rai n i n sheets from cumul oni mbus
cl ouds toweri ng above.
Sl ow-movi ng col d front l ifti ng u nstabl e ai r.
cumul oni mbus
col d ai r
SQUALL LI NES may precede fast-movi ng col d fronts.
They are an unbroken l i ne of bl ack
omi nous c l ouds, tow­
eri ng 40,000 ft. or more i nto the sky, i ncl udi ng t hunder­
storms of al most i ncredi bl e vi ol ence and occasi onal tor­
nadoes. Such squal l l i nes are extremel y turbul ent, some­
ti mes more so t han a typi cal hurricane. They can tear a
l i ght ai rpl ane apart and are avoi ded by al l except radar­
equi pped pl anes. From the ground, a squal l l i ne l ooks
l i ke a wal l of rol l i ng, boi l i ng, bl ack fog. Wi nds s hift and
sharpen sudden l y wi th t he approach of t he squal l l i ne,
and downward- pouri ng rai n may carry the cl oud cl ear
to the ground i n sharp, vertical bands. Torrenti al rai ns fal l
behi nd t he l eadi ng edge of t he squal l l i ne. Fl ash foods
are common, and dry ravi nes may become ragi ng tor­
rents withi n mi nutes as r un-of water rushes through.
Squal l l i nes occur when wi nds above a col d front, mov­
i ng i n the same di recti on as the front' s advance, prevent
the l i fti ng of a warm ai r mass. Thi s i s why l i tt l e bad weather
occurs ri ght at the surface front. But 1 00 to 1 50 mi l es
ahead of the front the strong wi nds force up t he warm
ai r wi th al most expl osi ve vi ol ence, produci ng the squal l
l i ne.
strong col d front are usual l y the
same. Fi rst one noti ces a sharpen­
i ng of wi nds from the sout h or
southwest and t he appearance of
al tocumul us c l ouds darkeni ng t he
hori zon to t he west or nort hwest.
The barometer begi ns to fal l .
As t h e front approaches, the
cl ouds l ower and cumul oni mbus
c l ouds begi n t o tower overhead.
Rai n spatters down, then i ncreases
i n i ntensity. The wi nd may i ncrease
and the barometer fal l sti l l further.
Wi th the actual passage of the
front over the observer, the wi nd
shifts rapi dl y to west or north, bl ow­
ing i n strong gusts. Squal l - l i ke rai ns
conti nue and t he barometer hi ts its
l owest readi ng. Passage of the
front usual l y r esul ts i n fai rl y rapi d
cl eari ng, but i n moi st or mountai n­
ous regi ons, cumul us or stratocumu­
l us cl ouds may stay overhead for
some ti me. The barometer ri ses
rapi dl y; temperature drops. Wi nds
general l y become steady from west
or northwest.
After passage of a col d front we
experi ence for a few days the typi ­
cal weather of a hi gh ( p. 60) . Then
steadi l y i ncreasi ng cl oudi ness usu­
al l y i ndi cates on approachi ng
wor m fr ont ( pp. 86- 88) .
�. .,
. .,
warm ai r
col d ai r
War m front. War m ai r ri des over col d surface ai r .
WARM FRONTS are those i n whi ch warm ai r advances,
repl aci ng col der air. I n the Northern Hemi sphere, warm
fronts occur on the east si de of l ow-pressure cel l s and are
usual l y fol l owed by col d fronts as the prevai l i ng westerl i es
move the l ow eastward (p. 90).
The advance of warm fronts, hori zontal l y, i s usual l y at
about 1 5 mph or sl ower-that i s, about hal f the speed of
col d fronts. The verti cal sl ope between warm and col d ai r
i n a war m front i s much l ess steep t han i n a col d front.
The war m ai r moves gradual l y up the sl ope, wi thout the
typi cal col d-front bul ge. Thi s i s because ground fri cti on
drags the bottom edge of the retreati ng col d ai r i nto a
t hi n wedge.
War m-front weather extends over an area hundreds of
mi l es i n advance of the front l i ne at ground l evel . Typi cal
cl oud sequences may be noted 1 ,000 mi l es i n advance of
the front, and often 48 hours i n advance of i ts arri val .
The cl ouds and preci pi tati on typi cal of warm fronts de­
vel op al ong the contact zone of the warm and col d ai r
above the ground, as shown above.
ci rrus
Warm front. Cl ouds of the stratus type form as stabl e warm ai r cl i mbs
u p a sl ope of col d ai r.
Stabl e warm ai r, l i fted over col d ai r as a warm front
advances, produces stratus-type cl ouds because the up­
l ift of ai r i s s l ow and l i ttl e t ur bul ence resu l ts i n t he stabl e
ai r. As the ai r l i fts (see p. 88 f or sequence observed from
the ground), i t cool s to produce stratus, ni mbostratus, al to­
stratus, ci rrostratus, and ci rrus cl ouds i n that order. Pre­
ci pi tati on is heavy at the begi nni ng of the l i ft, but decreases
gr adual l y, l eavi ng rel ati vel y dry ci rrus cl ouds at 20,000
ft. or hi gher.
Unstabl e warm ai r produces more vi ol ent weather.
Tur bul ence i s hi gh, and t he unstabl e ai r sets up ascend­
i ng ai r currents creati ng cumul oni mbus cl ouds and t hun­
derstorms ahead of the front l i ne. The preci pi tati on i s
t herefore spotty, al ternati ng between heavy downpour
and sl ow dri zzl e, wi t h t hunderstorms i nterspersed.
Cu mul oni mbus for mi ng as unstabl e war m ai r ri ses u p s l ope of col d ai r.
al tocumul us and
ci rrus
col d oi r
Î0Î Î Î m
° � � �

QUENCE frst di spl ays cirrus
cl ouds, whi ch have been l i fted
farthest up the col d- ai r sl ope. These
change i nto ci r rostratus, and be­
come denser as the front advances.
( Ci rcl es represent barometer wi th
bl ack arrow as the needl e, and red
arrow showi ng whether pressure
readi ngs are ri si ng or fa l l i ng. )
I f ci rrocumul us cl ouds ( "mackerel
sky") appear, the warm ai r over­
head is unstabl e and weather de­
scri bed at the bottom of p. 87 i s
al most certai n to come, as ol d­
ti me sai l ors and farmers knew.
1 f the warm ai r overhead is stabl e,
ci rrus cl ouds are repl aced by mi d­
dl e- hei ght al tostratus ( l eaden sky).
Unstabl e ci rrocumul us are al so re­
pl aced by al tostratus. Rai n or snow
begi ns as the al tostratus becomes
dense, and conti nues unti l the front
has passed.
Stratocumul us, ni mbostratus, stra­
tus, and-i n unstabl e ai r-cumul o­
ni mbus cl ouds fni sh the warm-front
sequence. But rai n fal l i ng t hrough
col d ai r adds t o i t s moi sture content,
produci ng l ower st ratus cl ouds that
often obscure hi gher cl ouds. The
ski es cl ear as the front passes.
STATI ONARY FRONTS are those whi ch move l i ttl e or
not at al l . Conditi ons are much l i ke those accompanyi ng
a war m front, but are usual l y mor e mi l d. Stati onary fronts
wi th r ai n may hang on for days.
WEAK FRONTS often pass unnoti ced except by weat her
men. Occurri ng when ai r masses ar e al most i denti cal i n
humi di ty an d temperature, they are marked onl y by a
wi nd shift as the weak front passes. Weather men watch
weak fronts for possi bl e regenerati on i nto strong fronts.
LOW Fronts tend to move
across the United States in a gen­
eral l y east or southeast di rection.
Warm fronts ar e usual l y fol l owed
cl osel y by col d fronts. To under­
stand why, observe t he way "ex­
tratropi cal " l ow- pressure cel l s de­
vel op from wavel i ke outbreaks
al ong frontal l i nes. The pictures
show the devel opment of a typi­
cal l ow as i t mi ght be seen from
above. Bl ack l i nes are isobars.
Purpl e areas mark preci pi tati on.
( 1) A frontal l i ne exi sts at a
l ow-pressure trough between col d
and warm ai r masses. (2) Col d ai r
begi ns to push under t he warm
ai r at some poi nt, formi ng a wave­
l i ke pattern at the front. (3) The
col d front conti nues to push back
the warm ai r and go under it.
Warm ai r, pushed from one si de,
bul ges out at its front i nto a l ow­
pressure area, whi ch i ncreases i n
si ze as col d ai r moves away from
it. So the warm front advances,
addi ng to the devel opi ng wave.
(4) The col d front pl unges ahead
about twice as fast as the warm
front. The l ow pressure area ex­
pands as warm ai r i s forced over
the l ow, and t he wave forms a
di sti nct crest. (5) The col d front
fnal l y overtakes the warm front,
l ifti ng the warm ai r compl etel y
of the gr ound. {6) Onl y the l ow­
pressure cel l of countercl ockwi se­
swi r l i ng ai r remai ns near the sur­
face. The swi r l i ng l ow-pressure
cel l fnal l y di sappears as ai r pres­
sure equal i zes. The new front l i ne
i s establ i shed at the boundari es
of the col d and warm ai r masses.
The devel opment and di sap­
pearance of a l ow-pressure cel l
does not take pl ace i n a stati on­
ary posi ti on. Westerl y wi nds move
the ai r masses from southwest to
northeast. So, as a l ow devel ops
and a col d ai r mass bends around the tongue of the warm
ai r mass, a warm front moves across the country, fol l owed
cl osel y by a col d front. loweri ng ai r pressure and a rapi dl y
droppi ng barometer precede t he warm front wi th its
stormy or general l y bad weather. This i s fol l owed by the
hi gher pressure of the warm ai r mass, and a short peri od
of cl ear weather may resul t. But the advanci ng col d front
is not far behi nd. Thus warm fronts, cl osel y fol l owed by
col d fronts, move endl essl y over the Uni ted States.
Path oI æ0 O8 It deve|eµs
and mowe¤ttword
warm ai r
Col d front approachi ng a war m front pr i or t o occl usi on.
OCCLUDED FRONTS The next-to-l ast posi ti on shown
for the l ow on p. 91 marks the devel opment of what i s
cal l ed an "occl uded front. " Thi s occurs when a col d front,
c l osel y fol l owi ng a warm front, fnal l y overtakes the
warm front and l ifts the warm ai r mass of the ground.
Ei t her the warm front (p. 93, top) or the col d front goes
al oft. The top drawi ngs on these two pages show two
stages in an occl usi on as seen i n a si de vi ew.
Study these and the di agram of the occl uded front as
seen from above ( l ower positi on, next page) . In i t, the
purpl e l i ne marks the occl usi on. The yel l ow l i ne (A- B)
shows the si tuati on when the col d front has not quite
caught up wi th the warm front. Conditi ons on the ground
i n thi s area are shown i n the picture di rectl y above. Warm­
front weather i s qui ckl y fol l owed by col d-front condi ti ons.
The reddi sh-brown l i ne (C-D) i s l yi ng across the occ l usi on
itsel f; the pi cture at the top of p. 93 shows conditi ons on
t he ground. Thi s i s a l ow-pressure area; surroundi ng ai r
fows i n, equal i zi ng the pressure.
warm ai r
Occl usi on occu rs {above) as the col d f r ont overtakes the war m f r ont
and l i fts both i t and the ai r mass of the gr ound.
Bel ow: di agram of the occl usi on as s een fr om above.
! 0 ! 2
Most weather changes are brought by fronts. By check­
i ng them i n newspaper weather maps, you can j udge the
ki nd of weather that i s approachi ng and when i t wi l l ar­
ri ve. Keep i n mi nd that weather i n t he Uni ted States moves
general l y from southwest to northeast. Col d fronts move
on the average about 20 mph, warm fronts 1 5 mph. Col d
fronts are i ndi cated on maps by bl ue l i nes or l i nes wi th
peaks ( on the si de of the l i ne toward whi ch the front i s
advanci ng) . Warm fronts are shown by red l i nes or l i nes
wi th rounded bumps ( on the si de of the l i ne of advance) .
Stati onary fronts are shown by al ternati ng col ors or wi th
peaks and bumps on opposi te si des of the l i ne. Occl uded
fronts are shown by pur pl e l i nes or al ternati ng peaks and
bumps, bot h on the same si de of t he l i ne.


on weather maps. Above i s a wave ( p. 90) wi th both a
warm and a col d front. Areas of steady preci pitati on are
marked in sol i d green; i ntermittent preci pitati on i n
hatched green. Note the symbol s for showers � and t hun­
derstorms _; al so the ai r mass cl assifcati on i n r ed and
bl ue.
Storms are the most dramati c, most dangerous, and most
feared of al l weather phenomena. In addi ti on to frontal
storms, t hree other wel l -known types occur-t hunder­
storms, tornadoes, and hurri canes.
THUNDERSTORMS represent vi ol ent vertical movements
of ai r. They occur as a resul t of strong upl ifti ng, someti mes
bui l di ng the cl ouds to hei ghts i n excess of 75, 000 ft. Thi s
upl ifti ng may be due to heati ng of ai r by the ground sur­
face ( common i n the Mi dwest and East); the acti on of a
col d front; or to temperature diferences between l and
and ocean (common i n Fl ori da and t he Southeast states) .
The map bel ow shows that thunderstorms are most fre­
quent i n Fl ori da, the Southeast, the southern Rocki es, and
adj acent Great Pl ai ns. They occur chi efy i n summer .
Thunderstorms sel dom occur on the West Coast, where
water- l and contrasts i n temperature are l owest. Cumul us
cl ouds represent updrafts; cumul oni mbus ( thunderstorm)
cl ouds have bot h updrafts and downdrafts. Hurri canes
( pp. 1 04- 1 1 1 ) are, i n earl y stages, l i ke gi ant t hunder­
storms-wi th vi ol ent updrafts and downdrafts.
the fact that l i ght travel s at about 1 86,000 mi l es per sec.
and sound at about 1 , 1 00 ft. per sec. or 1 mi l e i n a
l i ttl e l ess t han 5 sec. J udge the di stance of a storm by
t i mi ng how l ong i t takes for t hunder to reach you after
you see the l i ght ni ng fl ash. Counti ng " 1 00 1 , 1 002, 1 003, "
etc. at a normal speed counts seconds for you. Another
ai d is to note that col d ai r, carri ed down from the t hun­
der head by rai n, may fow forward about 3 mi l es i n front
of the storm. So a t hunderstorm general l y announces its
approach by a rush of col d air that fows down and out
over the ground ahead of the storm itsel f.
The numbers rep·
resent the aver­
age number of
t h u n d e r s t o r ms
per year.
1MdN0£k51OkM 0| 51k| 8d1| ON
• ) ~ r ai n * = snow
40,000 ft.
^ ~öó´


-1 5


¯ ¯
_ Ï b ´

• * • ç


• ¯¬m
¿ · ] ¸. .. .
¯ ~ ~ "
-= i ce crystal s
40,000 ft. ¬óÛ´|


-1 5

MENT takes pl ace in three recog­
ni zabl e stages.
The cumul us stage i s the frst
stage that each of the many cel l s
of a t hunderstorm undergoes. A
cumul us cl oud devel ops i nto a
thunderhead when ai r currents i n
it extend to about 25,000 ft.
The mature stage begi ns when
ascendi ng ai r reaches such a hei ght
that preci pi tati on occurs ( p. 23).
I n the earl i er stage, ai r i n the cl oud
had been warmer than the sur­
roundi ng ai r. But now fal l i ng rai n
and i ce crystal s cool the ai r and
downdrafts are created. Not e how
the dotted l i nes of equal tempera­
ture di p wi th the downdraft.
The fnal stage occurs when
downdraft areas have i ncreased
unt i l the enti re cl oud i s nothi ng but
si nki ng ai r bei ng adi abati cal l y
warmed. As no ai r is ascendi ng and
cool i ng, preci pi tati on becomes
l i ght, then ceases. Steady upper ai r
wi nds bl ow the c l oud of i ce crystal s
at the top of t hunderheads i nto the
typical anvi l top.
LI GHTNI NG is caused by the at­
tracti on of unl i ke el ectri cal charges
wi thi n a t hundercl oud, or between
it and the earth. The earth normal ­
l y has a negati ve charge ( a surpl us
of el ectrons as compared to atmos­
phere). Fri cti on of rapi dl y movi ng
i ce parti cl es and rai n i n a t hunder­
cl oud "wi pes of" el ectrons and
bui l ds up strong el ectrical charges.
Negative charges (shown here by mi nus si gns) concentrate
between the 32 ° F and 0° F l evel s. The l ower part of the
cl oud has posi ti ve ( +) zones surrounded by negative
zones. When el ectri cal pressure becomes hi gh enough,
charges between parts of cl oud or between c l oud and
eart h are rel eased by l i ghtni ng. Fi rst strokes are wi thi n
the cl oud; 65 per cent of al l di scharges are t her e or be­
tween cl ouds. li ghtni ng t o t he ground starts wi t h a rel a­
ti vel y thi n "l eader" stroke from the cl oud, fol l owed i mme­
di atel y by a heavy return stroke from the ground.
A si ngl e l i ght ni ng di scharge stri kes back and forth many
ti mes in l ess t han 1 / 1 0 second.
� Í /
Most l eaders start from the cl oud,
some from the ground. A l i ghtni ng
di scharge is i ncredi bl y powerful ­
up to 30 mi l l i on vol ts at 1 00,000
amperes-but is of very short dura­
ti on; hence l i ght ni ng cannot be
harnessed or used. But the total en­
ergy of a maj or t hunderstorm far
exceeds that of an atomi c bomb
Most l eaders start from
cl ouds; some from gr ound.
The sudden tremendous heat
from l i ghtni ng causes the compres­
si on or shock waves that we cal l
t hunder.
Danger spafs in O sfarm
Car bady sh i el ds accupanfs
Ai r pl ane passengers are safe
a ntenna
antenna not
LI GHTNI NG SAFETY li ght ni ng
stri kes thousands of ti mes i n the
United States each year. Damage
runs i nto the mi l l i ons, and about
2 1 0 peopl e are ki l l ed. But if a few
el ementary precauti ons are taken,
the chances of bei ng hi t are ex­
ceedi ngl y smal l . li ghtni ng takes the
path of l east resi stance. I t tends to
hi t the hi ghest pl aces. Never stand
under a l one tree i n an open fel d,
or fx your TV antenna, dur i ng a
t hunderstorm. The mast of a sai l boat
may attract l i ght ni ng. Stay away
from boats and water dur i ng storms.
I nsi de your car or i n a steel -frame
bui l di ng you' l l al ways be safe.
Metal ai rcraft have often been hi t
by l i ghtni ng but sel dom wi th harm
t o occupants, even though there i s
often extensi ve damage t o t he
radi o equi pment of the pl ane. The
metal ski n may be pitted wi t h hol es
from l i ghtni ng str i kes. On bui l di ngs,
l i ghtni ng rods al l ow el ectrons to
stream of i nto the ai r or down i nto
the ground and so tend to prevent
stri kes. I f struck, rods conduct el ec­
tri ci ty harml essl y to the gr ound. TV
antennas, properl y grounded,
serve the same pur pose. Wood
structures and trees have hi gh el ec­
tri cal resi stance and are heavi l y
damaged un l ess grounded.
fewer than 5
30 to 40 days
20 to 30
1 0 to 20
5 to 1 0
_5 to 0
Number of tornado days per year
over equal areas, by states
TORNADOES are by far the most vi ol ent of storms.
They are whi r l pool s of ai r of such vi ol ence that houses
i n thei r path may fy apart l i ke matchsti cks and even
rai l road trai ns may be l ifted from thei r tracks. Fortunate­
l y, tornadoes ( mi scal l ed cycl ones i n the Mi dwest) are of
smal l di ameter. Thei r path of destructi on rarel y extends
½ mi l e to ei ther si de of the di ppi ng, twi sti ng, funnel ­
shaped cl oud whi ch mar ks t he vortex.
An average of 1 24 tornadoes hi t the United States each
year, and the great maj ority of these stri ke i n the l ower
Mi ssi ssi ppi Val l ey. They resul t from al most expl osi ve i n­
stabi l ity i n t he ai r, and they accompany heavy t hunder­
storms and u n usual l y heavy rai ns-condi ti ons typi cal of
strong col d fronts and squal l l i nes ( p. 84). I n a study of 92
tornadoes, 72 were found to precede the col d front at
an average di stance of 1 65 mi l es. When the proper condi ­
ti ons occur, tornado war ni ngs are broadcast for areas
most l i kel y to be afected. Someti mes tornadoes can be
spotted and tracked by radar.
1 01
Mammatocu mul us cl ouds for m. Funnel forms as t ornado devel ops.
DEVELOPMENT OF A TORNADO is shown i n four
stages. Destructi ve efects do not come from the forward
speed of the storm (20 to 40 mph) but from the whi rl i ng
wi nds whi ch, near the vortex, often exceed 300 mph.
Tornado wi nds, the strongest known, may have a force
900 ti mes that of a 1 0-mi l e breeze and cause u n bel i evabl e
damage. Extreme l ow pressure i n the vortex causes cl osed
houses or bar ns l i teral l y to expl ode from the normal
pressure of ai r trapped i nsi de as ai r pressur e d rops dras­
ti cal l y in t he vortex.
Funnel starts i ts destructi ve course. Funnel sucks u p dust and debri s.
Tor nado can drive straw i nto tree. Press ure causes barn to expl ode.
Another destructi ve force i s a 1 00- to 200- mph updraft
at the center of the funnel . Thi s updraft has sucked houses,
ani mal s, and cars i nto t he ai r and carri ed them hundreds
of feet; i t resu l ts from the sudden setti ng of of
the expl osivel y unstabl e ai r. Tor nados have l i fted
frogs and fsh from ponds, then dropped t hem over pop­
ul ated areas. Red cl ay when so l ifted, mi xed wi th rai n,
and dropped to earth has been cal l ed "a rai n of bl ood. "
Over l akes and seas the tornado funnel someti mes l ifts
water i nto t he ai r, creati ng a waterspout.
Tornado mOÿ "rai n" frogs. Waterspout : tornado over ocean.
1 04
The eye of hurricane Gl ori a seen from an ai rpl ane.
HURRI CANES ( OR "TYPHOONS" ) are tropi cal
cyc l ones. li ke al l cycl ones they are l ows. I n some ways
they are l i ke the "extratropi cal " cycl ones that exi st as
l ow-pressure cel l s al ong fronts (p. 90). But hurri canes
( wi th wi nds of 75 mph or more) are not accompani ed by
fronts and they di fer from frontal "extratropi cal " l ows i n
i mportant ways. Far more i ntense than extratropi cal
l ows, hurricanes often have wi nds of over 1 50 mph. They
are about one-thi rd as l arge, averagi ng 40 mi l es i n
di ameter_ They move sl owl y, travel i ng i n an ai r mass of
uniform temperature rather than between ai r masses of
diferent temperatures. Hurri canes are amazi ngl y sym­
metri cal , the central i sobars formi ng al most perfect ci rcl es.
Hurri canes devel op onl y over open ocean areas covered
by extremel y warm moist ai r masses. They break up soon
after movi ng over l and. An i nteresti ng diference between
h urri canes and extratropi cal cycl ones i s the cal m "eye"
found i n the center of the hurri cane ( p. 1 08) .
Hurri canes general l y form in the areas shown in dor k bl ue and travel
i n the di recti on of the red arrows.
western part of the North Paci fc has more hurri canes
(there known as "typhoons") than any other pl ace on
eart h. These are born between the Marshal l I sl ands and
the Phi l i ppi nes, and move i n a c l ockwi se fashi on, frst
westward toward the Chi na coast, then northward and
northeast over t he Phi l i ppi nes toward Korea and Japan.
Ranki ng second are the hurri canes ( "cycl ones") of t he
South I ndi an Ocean. Some ( "Wi l l y-Wi l l i es") devel op north
of Austral i a and curve down over the northwest coast.
More frequent and i ntense are those that sweep westward,
some brushi ng Madagascar and Southeast Afri ca.
Thi rd i n frequency are the hur ri canes that move over
the West I ndi es. These storms, most of which ori gi nate
near the bul gi ng west coast of Afri ca, cause great damage
to shi ppi ng and to the many i sl ands i n thei r path. These
are the stor ms that h it the south and east coasts of the
Uni ted States or stri ke Mexi co or Central Ameri ca.
Of ei ght regi ons of occurrence, onl y two, the West
I ndi es and the Mexi can West Coast, give ri se to hurri canes
that afect the United States. The l atter sel dom stri ke the
conti nent as far north as Cal iforni a. The map shows the
ei ght sources ( dark bl ue) and paths ( red ar rows)· of hur­
ri canes of the worl d.
1 05
1 06
THE BI RTH OF HURRI CANES often occurs in regi ons
of contrasti ng wi nds, si mi l ar to those at fronts. These are
near, but not at, the equator, where trade wi nds meet to
form the i ntertropi cal convergence zone ( I TCZ). But trop­
i cal cycl ones have never occurred at the equator itsel f!
Thi s i s because cycl ones requi re the twisti ng forces of the
earth's rotati on to start them spi nni ng ( pp. 53-54), and
there i s none at the equator. Si nce t he I TCZ moves north
of the equator i n summer to areas where the wi nds are
twisted to thei r ri ght, cycl oni c swi r l s can be establ i shed.
And so begi ns the season of hurri canes that afect the
Uni ted States.
Another way hurri canes form is by the i ntensi fcati on
of a wave or ri ppl e i n the easterl y trade wi nds. These
easter l y waves are watched, and when a shi p reports
strong wi nd speeds in its vi ci nity, reconnai ssance ai rcraft
ar e sent to l ook over the suspected area.
I n wi nter, when the I TCZ i n the At l ant i c Ocean i s at the
equator, hurri canes never devel op on i t. However, when
the zone moves south of the equator i n the I ndi an Ocean
and in part of the South Paci fc in wi nter, the season of
hurri canes afecti ng the southern hemi sphere begi ns.
Compare the maps ( p. 79) showi ng the February and Sep­
tember positi ons of the ITCZ with the tabl e of West I ndi an
hurri canes ( bel ow).
May J une J ul y Aug.
0 1 0 1 3 51
Oct. Nov.
35 6
A hurri cane is born in a hot moist
ai r mass over the ocean. The cy­
cl oni c moti on i s often started as op­
posi ng trade wi nds whi rl around
each other. Thi s can occur onl y
when t he I TCZ i s di spl aced from
the equator so that the twisti ng ef­
fect of earth' s rotati on can take
pl ace. The rotati ng l ow pushes ai r
toward i ts center, forci ng hot moist
air there to l ift. lifti ng causes
moi sture to condense. Heat thrown
of as the moi sture condenses ( p.
1 3) further warms rotati ng ai r,
whi ch becomes even l i ghter and
ri ses mor e swi ftl y. As mor e and
more moist tropi cal s ea ai r sweeps
i n to repl ace the ri si ng ai r, more
and more condensati on takes
pl ace. So ai r i nsi de the storm ri ses
faster and faster.
Hurri canes are so vi ol ent be­
cause of the tremendous energy re­
l eased by the conti nuous conden­
sati on. At frst the storm i s l i ke the
i nsi de of a gi ant t hunderstor m. Un­
l i ke a t hunderstorm over l and, a
hurri cane has an i nexhausti bl e
sour ce of moisture. The heat gi ven
of by condensati on causes the ai r
i n the hur ri cane to ri se faster and
faster. Surroundi ng ai r sweeps i n
rapi dl y unti l t he hurri can e i s a
gi ant wheel of vi ol ent wi nds.
Opposi ng wi nds make ai r whi rl .
Heat of condensati on l i fts mass.
30 m| | es
Ri se accel erates l i ke a bal l oon.
Col umn i s fed from si des.
1 08
Section through a hurri cane, showi ng eye and vertical wi nds.
THE EYE OF A HURRI CANE i s at the center of the
storm-a zone of near cal m or l i ght breezes, wi th cl ear or
l i ghtl y c l ouded ski es overhead. I t averages about 20 mi l es
i n di ameter. Thousands, i gnorant of the hurri cane's an­
atomy, have gone out i nto the cal m of the eye, unaware
that they woul d soon be hi t agai n by the ful l mi ght of the
other si de of the hurri cane.
The eye may be caused by centri fugal force acti ng on
wi nds at the ri m of the eye. The centrifugal force acti ng
on a rotati ng body doubl es when the radi us of rotation
i s cut in hal f. As ai r spi ral s in toward the center of a hur­
ri cane, its centri fugal force i ncreases greatl y. The c l oudy
wal l of the eye i s where the centrifugal force exactl y
bal ances the pressure forci ng ai r i nward to the l ow-pres­
sure center. Fricti on wi th the ocean surface sl ows down
the whi r l i ng ai r and decreases the centrifugal force. So
t he eye i s s mal l at the surface. Al oft, where wi nd speeds
are great, the centri fugal force i s hi gher and the eye
l arger and funnel - shaped.
Tropi c of Cancer
Cape Verde
I sl ands
Path of a typi cal hurri cane from bi rth todecay.
1 5
from i ts bi rth as a tropi cal l ow, through maturi ty and to
decay as an extratropi cal cycl one i n the westerl i es. The
map above shows a storm starti ng west of the Cape Verde
I sl ands as a tropical l ow wi th wi nds l ess than 32 mph.
Next we fnd tropi cal storm "Betty" ( hurri canes ar e given
women' s n ames) wi th wi nds 32 to 73 mph, a pproachi ng
t he Leeward I s l ands of t he West I ndi es. When next re­
ported it i s a mature hurri cane wi th wi nds over 75 mph,
r i ght over Guadel oupe. I t conti nues westward at 1 0 t o
1 2 mph, passi ng south of Puerto Ri co and Hai ti . Then i t
begi ns to curve north, sti l l at 10 to 12 mph, passi ng over
Cuba and t he Bahamas, but now wi th wi nds over 1 25 mph.
Betty then curves t o t he northeast, movi ng at 30 mph unt i l
i t hits a col d front north of Bermuda. Hurri cane Betty i n­
duces a wave on the fr ont and becomes an extratropi cal
l ow, endi ng as a storm over the North Sea. Hurri cane
Betty' s pat h i s typi cal . I t coul d have conti n ued west t o
hi t t he Gul f Coast, Fl ori da, or t he Atl anti c seaboard.
1 09
Wi nd bl ows boats ashore. Waves undermi ne bui l di ngs.
up t o 200 mph, storm waves and ti des, and fash foods
caused by torrenti al rai ns fl l i ng ri vers t i l l they overfow
as the storm moves i nl and.
On t he average t he Uni ted States i s hi t by hurri canes
about twi ce a year. About once every t hree years an un­
usual l y severe hur r i cane stri kes, l eavi ng a swath of de­
structi on 50 to 1 00 mi l es wi de and someti mes hundreds of
mi l es l ong.
The vi ol ent wi nds uproot trees, spl i nter frame bui l di ngs,
s i nk or damage shi ps, and i n combi nati on with the hi gh
ti des erode beaches and wash away shor e i nstal l ati ons.
The storm ti des wi th the September 8, 1 900, hurri cane
at Gal veston, Texas, compl etel y fooded the city. More
than 6,000 di ed and property damage was wel l over
Fl ash foods caused the chi ef destructi on and greatest
n umber of deaths from the 1 955 hurri canes that hit the
eastern seaboard and New Engl and.
l i shed i n 1 938 by j oi nt acti on of t he U. S. Weather Bureau,
Ai r Force, and the Navy. Previ ousl y, hurricanes had struck
wi th l i ttl e or no war ni ng. Now reconnai ssance ai rcraft,
ful l y equi pped with radar scopes and weather i nstru­
ments, are sent to reconnoiter suspected areas. When a
hurri cane is spotted, pl anes fy i nto the h urri cane once
every 6 hours to measure the i ntensi ty of the wi nds and
exactl y l ocate the center. Bul l eti ns every 6 hours forecast
the probabl e path of the hurri cane and gi ve war ni ng.
Peopl e have t i me t o board up t hei r homes or go to safer
pl aces. Shi ps at sea general l y change course to avoi d
t he storm, and ai rcraft ar e fown t o safe s pots away from
the coast. F l yi ng i nto the eye of a hurri cane, t hough ex­
tremel y rough, i s not so dangerous as one mi ght t hi nk.
Despi te the thousands of fi ghts made si nce the begi nni ng
of the program, onl y three reconnai ssance ai rcraft have
been l ost i n the peri od between 1 938 and 1 957.
The mi crosei smograph i s a rel ati vel y n ew i nst rument
that pi cks up di sturbances caused by stor ms at sea. Thi s
u l tra-sensi ti ve earthquake recorder detects hurri canes
earl i er so that they can be l ocated and tracked by recon­
naissance pl anes.
1 1 1
1 1 2
Weat her Forecasti ng
Accurate weather forecasti ng depends o n the forecaster' s
knowi ng as much as possi bl e about the total state of the
atmosphere. The U. S. Weather Bureau operates a far­
fung network of stati ons where such i nformati on i s col ­
l ected and speedi l y sent to regi onal forecast i ng centers.
Observati ons are taken hourl y, day and ni ght, at some
400 stati ons al ong the U. S. ai rways. More compl ete obser
vati ons are made every 6 hours at many of the stati ons.
Upper ai r el ements are sampl ed by radi osonde twi ce
dai l y at some 50 stati ons. Pi l ot bal l oons, measuri ng the
upper ai r wi nds, are sent up four ti mes a day at some 1 25
stati ons. The Coast Guard, Ai r Force, Navy, and Ci vi l
The United States i s covered by a dense network of stations t hat report
the weather for avi ati on needs. New York City and Los Angel es are
each surrounded by a dozen stations cl ose at hand.
Aeronauti cs Authority cooperate in observi ng and fore­
casti ng the weather. Over 9,000 cooperati ve, part-ti me
weather stati ons al so report to the U. S. Weather Bureau.
Weather afecti ng t he United States a week or more
from now i s bei ng born today i n ai r masses over other
countri es and the oceans. A worl d-wi de network of
weather stati ons (under the Wor l d Meteorol ogi cal Organ­
i zati on, an agency of the United Nati ons) exchanges data
wi th the U. S. Weather Bureau. Merchant s hi ps radi o i nfor­
mati on four to ei ght ti mes a day whi l e at sea, and ai r­
l i ners report weather condi ti ons encountered i n fi ght. Be­
cause of al l thi s, the U. S. Weather Bureau i s abl e to
achi eve better than 85 per cent accuracy i n its 24- hour to
36-hour forecasts.
The stati ons on thi s map are those that report upper-ai r data. They al l
expl ore wi nds al oft by sendi ng up pi l ot bal l oons. Those marked by O
tri angl e report, in additi on, data obtai ned by radi osonde.
1 1 3
24 hour forecast
For Jeferson Coun­
t y: Colder and in­
creash1g cloudiness
tonight. \ednesday
scattered li
ht rain
or snow furries and
´� colder. Low to-
" night around 40:
High Wednesday i n t he 40s. Iow
Wednesday night low 30s.
Ï1ÀÍ: :Ì/3 ÏI1ÍL/hÅ
Tem pcratures will a\crage 4 to
¯ degrees below normal. Normal
ma:imum 54 north to Óó south;
normal minimum 34 north to 40
south. Colder tonight, \cdncsday
and Thursday fol lowed by warm­
ing trend o\er weekend. Precipita­
tion total . 5 0 to ¡ inches; rain
south and rain or snow north \cd­
ncsday and again ncar week end.
Detai l ed 24- hour and general fve-day forecasts.
24- hour detai l ed forecasts, general 5- day forecasts, 30-
day general outl ook, 1 2- hour avi ati on forecasts (with an
accuracy of 95 per cent), reports of weather conditi ons
at over 300 ai rports, and speci al bul l eti ns, weather maps,
and reports of temperature and preci pitati on. They i ssue
warni ngs on storms, frost, etc. for farmi ng and i ndustry.
The 24- hour and 5-day forecasts go by radio or tel etype.
Newspapers and TV broadcasters use the Weather Bu­
reau's weather maps to prepare thei r si mpl ifed maps.
Before taki ng of, pi l ots read reports and forecasts received by tel e­
typewriter i n the weather briefng rooms.
DEN 1 5�£35�60®10�2 0 2 1 7/65/50�� 1 0/03 1/
AKO E40®1 80$1 5 224/6 3/55�� 10/029/BI NOVC NU
G LD 20�E1 2�1 5 2
G CK 20�E7�1 5 1 90/70/60�2 0/01 7
D D C 9�E12�1 5R - 166/67/64 �� 1 8/009
h` E 1 0�25�1 5 203/68/58�� 1 4/01 7
RSL 40�80�1 50�[200®1 5 1 93/70/59vl 0
hT 50�250-®1 5 74 ��23+28/003
S L N £20®120$1 5 1 80/74/61 �� 16/00
J CT 6 5IE25�1 5 l q?/77/63 �22/999/TWRG CU 5 L ¬W
TOP 20�E80®1 5 1 69/ 7 3/6 q � 1 0/00q
NKC M2 5®12�1 5 164/76/6 5l20/002
5TJ 22�E8�1 5� 72/6 5 l l 2/003/�V® BI N0VC NV
OFK 2 5 0-®1 5+ 22 7/62/4 6� 1 3
A Tel etype weather report for pi l ots.
For ai r safety, maj or ai rports have stati ons operated by
the Ci vi l Aeronauti cs Authority or U.S. Weather Bureau
to gi ve pi l ots compl ete i nformati on. Tel etype reports l i ke
that shown at the top of the page and decoded at the
bottom are avai l abl e. Whi l e i n fi ght the pi l ot "receives
weather reports and forecasts every hal f hour, and can
request i nformati on at any ti me. The growth of private
and commerci al avi ati on has been paced by the growth
of the U. S. Weather Bureau servi ce, whi ch has made safe
fyi ng possi bl e.
Fol l owi ng i s an i nterpretation of the ffth l i ne of the Tel etype at t he
t op of t he page:
DOC Reporti ng stati on Dodge Ci ty, Kans.
90 ( Scattered cl ouds at 9000 ft.
E 1 20 E Cl oud cei l i ng at an esti mated hei ght of 1 2,000 ft.
1 5 Visi bi l ity 1 5 mi l es
R· Weather: l i ght rai n
1 66 Barometri c pressure: 1 0 1 6. 6 mi l l i bars
67 Temperatu re i n degrees Fahrenhei t
64 Dew poi nt i n degrees Fahrenhei t
�·1 8 Wi nd: north-northeast at 18 mi l es per hour
009 Al ti meter setti ng of 30. 09 i nches
1 1 5
1 1 6
C000c0äatì 00 0f
U . ô. Wcat0cr Burcau f0rctaät
KaìnandcOOÍcrlOday, cÍcar-
tngandcO!dcrtOnìghl. Íaì r,
Tcmµcrat0rc ra0yc t00ay . 4ö- 4I
Tcmµcrat0rcra0¶cycätcr0ay. 49. ë-40. Z
Not a coi nci dence. large stores retai n private forecasti ng services to
know i n advance whi ch merchandise to feature.
suppl ement the work of government weathermen and sup­
pl y a great variety of weather forecasti ng servi ces. If a
department store is al l set to advertise spri ng cl othes and
a consul ti ng forecaster advises that three days of rai n and
cool weather are ahead, the ads are changed t o sel l rai n­
wear and cool weather cl othi ng. I f a meteorol ogi st em­
pl oyed by a l arge New York bakery advises that tomor­
row' s weather wi l l be rai ny, the bakery del ivers the bul k
of its products t o downtown stores, knowi ng t hat house­
wi ves wi l l del ay thei r shoppi ng i n the suburbs and cal l
thei r husbands t o "pi ck up a l oaf of bread" near thei r
ofce. The dairy company makes more ice cream when
advi sed of warm weather. The coat manufacturer makes
topcoats i nstead of overcoats on l earni ng of a mi l d wi nter
ahead; the rai nwear manufacturer makes rubbers i nstead
of boots. The drug manufacturer makes more col d rem­
edi es because more peopl e catch col ds i n the changeabl e
weather of a "mi l d" wi nter. Mi l l i ons of dol l ars are saved
annual l y through these services.
PRI VATE METEOROLOGY i s wi despread in todoy' s
compl ex afai rs. Most ai r l i nes empl oy thei r own meteor­
ol ogists, who work out compl ete detai l s of the weather
that pi l ots wi l l encounter on thei r fi ghts over the U. S. or
abroad. Moti on pi cture compani es save mi l l i ons of dol l ars
by arrangi ng thei r schedul e of outdoor shooti ng on t he
basi s of cl ear-day predi cti ons of thei r meteorol ogists. Some
meteorol ogi sts hove ful l -ti me j obs wi t h maj or uti l i ty com­
poni es. Thei r predi cti ons of cool and worm weather and
bri ght and dul l days enabl e the compani es to pump gas
and generate el ectri city accordi ng to the need.
Pri vate and commerci al meteorol ogists get thei r basi c
data from the U. S. Weather Bureau. Thi s agency makes
the observati ons, draws the mops, and i ssues the general
i nformati on from whi ch speci al forecasts c on be mode for
speci al purposes. Basi c to al l forecasti ng i s the col l ecti on
of data throughout the United States and other ports of
the worl d, the codi ng of these data for transmi ssi on, and
t he preparati on of basi c weather mops.
Many ai rl i nes have thei r own staf meteorol ogists, who hel p pi l ots avoid
storms by predi cti ng where and when they wi l l occur.
radi osonde
t ransmi tter
and receiver
to accurate forecast i ng requi res the
use of i nstruments. Unti l the i nven­
ti on of such i nstruments, our knowl ­
edge of t he atmosphere was l i mited
to qeneral i deas di sti l l ed from gen­
erati ons of fol k wi sdom. Farmers,
hunters, and sai l ors were al ways i n­
terested i n weather. Thei r r ul es of
t humb ( pp. 1 42- 1 43) general l y hel d
a good dea l of truth.
But wi th the i nventi on of the ba­
rometer and thermometer and other
measuri ng i nstr uments, accurate ob­
servati on was made possi bl e and the
sci ence of meteorol ogy was born.
The advent of tel egraphy and the
worl d-wi de standardi zati on of ti me
zones based on Greenwi ch Ci vi l
Ti me made possi bl e t he col l ecti on
of these data at central poi nts. The
next step was anal ysi s and prepara­
ti on of weather maps for the enti re
wor l d that showed the condi ti ons of
the atmosphere with fair accuracy.
I t i s now possi bl e to prepare weather
maps showi ng si mul taneous worl d­
wi de condi ti ons every 6 hours of the
day and ni ght. Upper- ai r charts can
be prepared every 1 2 hours.
Detai l s on modern weather i nstru­
ments fol l ow-but the tel etype, ra­
di o, and the i nternati onal coopera­
ti on of sci enti sts are essent i al al so.
PRESSURE MEASUREMENTS are essenti al for the
pl otti ng of i sobars ( l i nes of equal pressure) over the earth,
and for deter mi ni ng posi ti ons and movements of fronts.
As pressure at mountai n tops i s l ess than at sea l evel , re­
gardl ess of posi ti ons of hi ghs and l ows, al l pressure read­
i ngs are converted to what they woul d be i f readi ngs were
taken at sea l evel . Thi s al l ows accurate mappi ng of pres­
sure patterns anywhere i n the worl d.
Pressur e i s measured by two types of barometers. The
mercuri al barometer i s used by most weat her stati ons.
I t i s a gl ass tube cl osed at the top and fl l ed wi th mercury.
The mercury col umn i s supported by the pressure of the
ai r, bei ng hi gh i n the tube when ai r pressure i s hi gh and
l ower as ai r pressure decreases. The readi ng i s converted
i nto mi l l i bars.
The aneroi d ( no fui d) barometer i s a corrugated metal
contai ner from whi ch the ai r has been removed. The cor­
rugati ons and a spri ng i nsi de prevent ai r pressure from
col l apsi ng i t compl etel y. As ai r pressure i ncreases, the
top of the box bends i n; as pressure decreases, the top
bows out. Gears and l evers transmi t these changes to a
poi nter on a di al .
3 1 m
cl osed end
Ai r pressure
pushes agai nst
mercury at open
end. Hi gh pres­
sure forces mer­
cury up cl osed

1 n

easi ng ai r
pressure pushes
top af vacuum
end- low pressure
l ets it drop.
l ever
box down. Th
pul l s down at­
tached lever and
works gears
whi ch move
poi nter over di al .
1 1 9
1 20
recor di ng barometer or barograph
aneroi d barometer
mercur i al
ROMETERS are preci si on- made and ac­
curate to 1 /1 000 i nch. They respond to
changes in temperature as wel l as pres­
sure, because the mercury col umn i tsel f ex­
pands with heat. This i s corrected by adj ust­
ing the level of a poo
of mercury at the
base of the tube. Hi gh accuracy i n readi ng
is made possi bl e by a sl i di ng verni er. The
observer reads the mercury hei ght al ong
etched l i nes on the verni er.
Aneroi d barometers are not as accurate
but have i mportant uses. One, not rel ated
to weather, i s thei r use as an al t i meter. The
di al i s marked i n feet, and as a pi l ot fi es
upward, the poi nter gi ves his al ti tude
above sea l evel . An aneroi d barometer
can be arranged al so so that changes i n
pressure are recorded on a paper-covered
rotati ng drum. Most weather stati ons have
such a recordi ng aneroi d barometer, or
above -38° F are taken wi th mer­
curi al thermometers ( mercury
freezes at -38°F) . Al cohol ther­
mometers are used bel ow -38°F.
(Al cohol freezes at -1 79°F ø ) Mi ni ­
mum thermometers record l ow­
est temperatures. Surface tensi on of
al cohol keeps a smal l sl i di ng gl ass
i ndex al ways at the surface l evel
of the al cohol as i t contracts wi th
fal l i ng temperature. When the al ­
cohol ri ses i n the t ube as tempera­
ture goes up< the i ndex remai ns at
the l owest positi on, i ndi cati ng the
mi ni mum temperature reached.
Maxi mum thermometers, l i ke
a doctor's thermometer, have a con­
stricti on i n the mercury tube. As
temperature ri ses, the mercury ex­
pands through the constri cti on. As
temperature fal l s, the constri cti on
keeps the mercury from r unni ng
back. A Thermograph, or re­
cordi ng thermometer, has a Bour­
don tube fl l ed wi th al cohol . I t
fexes as temperature changes.
mercuri al
i ndex
al cohol
i ndex
Max. and mi n.
constri cti on
1 2 1
1 22
sl i ng
Hygrogr aph records data on movi ng paper.
RELATI VE HUMI DI TY i s measured wi th a psychrometer,
consi sti ng of two thermometers. One is a regul ar mercury
thermometer. The other, a wet bul b thermometer, has a
musl i n wi ck over its bul b. The end is di pped i nto water
before a readi ng i s taken. These thermometers are whi rl ed
before the psychrometer i s read. Evaporati on from the
musl i n wi ck l owers the temperature of the wet bul b ther­
mometer. I n dry ai r, there is more evaporati on and there­
fore more cool i ng than i n moi st ai r; hence the di ference
i n temperatures shown by the two thermometers i ndi cates
the rel ati ve humi di ty (p. 1 2), which i s read from a tabl e.
There are several types of psychrometers; t hey difer
mai nl y i n the means for evaporati ng water from the wet
bul b.
Hygrographs ar e i nstruments f or recordi ng rel ative
humi di ty. They work l i ke thermographs, except that the
humi dity el ement consi sts of a sheaf of bl onde h uman
hai rs treated t o remove t he oi l . As the rel ati ve humi di ty
i ncreases, the hai rs i ncrease i n l ength and operate the
recordi ng mechani sm. Knowl edge of rel ati ve humi dity is
i mportant i n predi cti ng preci pitati on and i ci ng conditi ons,
whi ch can force a pl ane down.
extremel y i mportant. The amount
of annual rai nfal l and i ts seasonal
distri buti on i n a l ocal ity determi ne
the ki nds of farmi ng that are prac­
ticabl e, and may afect the whol e
pattern of l i vi ng. The U. S. Weather
Bureau keeps accurate records of
preci pi tati on throughout the coun­
Rain gauges are of several types
and measure not onl y rai n but al l
other forms of preci pitati on. Ti p­
pi ng bucket gages have a di vi ded
bucket bal anced so that one si de
fl l s, then ti ps its water i nto a con­
tai ner and al l ows the other si de to
fl l . The gauge i s so preci sel y bal -
an.ced that 1 /1 00 i n. of rai n ti ps the
bucket each ti me. As t he bucket
( housi ng removed)
ti ps, i t sends an el ectric si gnal to a
recordi ng dr um i nsi de the weather
stati on. later the stati on observer
measures the water whi ch ran i nto
the contai ner as a check on the re­
cordi ng' s accuracy. Another type
of recordi ng rain gauge conti nu­
ousl y wei ghs the water and records
that wei ght di rectl y on a graph as
i nches of rai nfal l . "One i nch of rai n­
fal l " i s a way of sayi ng that on
l evel ground a l ayer of rai n one
i nch deep woul d remai n if none of
the water ran of or seeped i nto
the ground.
1 23
Aerovane i ndi cator
show i ntensi ty and di recti on of ai r movements. Sudden
shifts i n wi nd di recti on mark the passage of fronts. Pre­
ci se data on wi nd di rection and speed are determi ned
by a variety of wi nd vanes and by vari ous types of
anemometers, usual l y recordi ng types whi ch automati cal l y
set down a conti nuous record.
One of the most commonl y used i nstruments is the
quadrupl e recorder, or stati on meteorograph, whi ch i s
connected el ectri cal l y to a wi nd vane, anemometer, rai n
gauge, and a devi ce that records sunshi ne durati on. The
anemometer part has three cups, whi ch catch the wi nd
and rotate. Gears and el ectri cal connecti ons transmi t t he
wi nd speed to a di al for di rect readi ng and to the record­
ing graph. The Aerovane i s l i ke a smal l ai rpl ane without
wings; the nose turns into the wi nd, showing wi nd di rec­
ti on, and the whi rl i ng propel l er gives wi nd speed in mi l es
· per hour.
1 24
Accurate i nformati on on wi nd di rection and speed hel ps
meteorol ogi sts to chart the positi ons of hi ghs and l ows
( pressure readi ngs provi de the basi c data for such charts).
stati on meteorograph or
quadrupl e recorder
Beaufort Wi nd Scal e I n 1 805 Admi r al Beaufort of
the Bri ti sh Navy devel oped a scal e to esti mate wi nd
speeds fr om t hei r efect on t he sai l s. Hi s tabl e i s gi ven
bel ow, modifi ed for use on l and. Beaufort number 3, for
exampl e, wi th wi nds of 7 to 1 0 knots ( a knot i s 1 . 1 5 mi l es
per hour), i s a gentl e breeze that produces constant but
l i ght moti on of twi gs and l eaves.
Today, by i nternati onal agreement, al l reports for use
i n pl otti ng weather maps use knots. Wi nds are recorded
on the weather map to the nearest 5 knots.
£51| MA1| NG W| N05 ON 1M£ 8£Ad|Ok1 5CAl£
Beaufort mph
Descri pti on Observati on
Symbol s on
number knots weather maps

cal m
smoke ri ses
_cal m
. verti cal l y

l i ght s moke drifts
_ cal m
: ai r sl owl y

sl i ght l eaves
. breeze rustl e

gent l e l eaves and _ . : knots
0 breeze twi gs i n moti on

moderate smal l branches
. s knots
c breeze move

fresh smal l trees _20 knots
. breeze sway

strong l arge branches __sknots
: breeze sway

moderate whol e trees �:knots
3 gal e
i n moti on

fresh twi gs break knots
0 qal e of trees

branches �sknots
: Qal e break
1 0

whol e trees s nap and 50 knots
s a al e are bl own down
1 1

wi desprea d �c:knots
s..: damage
1 2

h u rri cane
extreme �::knots
. damaae
Rel easi ng cei l i ng bal l oon
Usi ng cl i nometer ( l eft) and
cei l i ng l i ght proj ector
(the al ti tude of the base of c l ouds
whi ch are bel ow 1 0,000 ft. and
cover more t han hal f of the sky) i s
of particul ar i mportance to ai r safe­
ty. Experi enced observers, knowi ng
cl oud types, can esti mate the cei l ­
i ng to wi thi n 1 00 ft. for l ow cl ouds,
· and wi thi n ·1 ,000 ft. for mi ddl e and
hi gh cl ouds. Stati on reports often
give "esti mated" cl oud hei ghts and
cei l i ng.
Cl oud and cei l i ng hei ght are
al so measured i n sever al ways. Ai r­
craft fy to c l oud l evel s and check
al ti meter readi ngs. Cei l i ng bal l oons
are i nfated to ri se at a fxed rate,
and the ti me i t takes them to di s­
appear i nto the cl oud base i ndi ­
cates the hei ght of the cl ouds.
A cl i nometer and a cei l i ng
l i ght proj ector are used to measure
cei l i ng hei ght at ni ght. The observ­
er stands 1 ,000 ft. from the proj ec­
tor and observes the bri ght spot re­
fected from cl ouds through the
cl i nometer. He reads the angl e on
the i ndex of the cl i nometer, t hen
checks a tabl e to get t he cei l i ng
hei ght. At l arge ai rports a photo­
el ectri c cel l , whi ch rotates verti ­
cal l y through a 90° arc whi l e ai med
at a verti cal beam of l i ght, makes
these measurements automati cal l y.
MITTERS are used to record the
durati on of sunshi ne each day. Thi s,
l i ke the preci pi tati on for a regi on,
i s i mportant for agri cul ture, i ndus­
try, and resort areas. The transmit­
ter has a "bl ack bul b" contai ni ng
mercury and a seal ed ai r space
above i t. When the sun shi nes, the
bl ack bul b i s qui ckl y heated and
t he ai r expands, pushi ng mercury
up the tube and maki ng an el ectri c contact. The re­
sul ti ng el ectri c si gnal makes a mark on a rotati ng graph
paper. When cl ouds cover the sun, the bul b cool s rapi dl y
and the mercury drops, breaki ng the el ectri cal 'contact.
OBSERVI NG WI NDS ALOFT i s i mportant to avi ati on
and i n prepari ng upper- l evel maps for forecast i ng. These
wi nds are observed ei ther by radar or by use of pi l ot
bal l oons and a theodol ite si mi l ar to the surveyor: s i nstru­
ment. Accurate scal es measure t he angl e of the bal l oon
wi th the ground and i ts di recti on from t he stati on. Speed
and di recti on of wi nds at vari ous l evel s are easi l y com­
puted from these observati ons.
Theodol ite ond pi l ot bal l oon hel p keep track of wi nds al oft.
1 28
Radiosonde receiver (l eft) and transmi tter (ri ght).
of the more recent and most accurate means of fndi ng t he
temperature, pressure, and humi dity at vari ous hei ghts i n
t he atmosphere. There ar e several types, but most common
i s the "modul ated audio-frequency system, " i nvol vi ng a
ti ny radi o transmitter that broadcasts a special frequency
radi o wave. Attached to thi s transmitter is a smal l but com­
pl icated set of measuri ng i nstruments whi ch automati cal l y
convert data on temperature, pressure, and humi dity i nto
el ectri cal i mpul ses, whi ch are sent by the transmitter to
a receivi ng and recordi ng set on the ground.
Radiosondes are sent up on speci al bal l oons twice dai l y
by U. S. Weather Bureau stati ons. They someti mes reach
hei ghts of over 1 00,000 ft. One ki nd, the dropsonde, i s
rel eased on a parachute from ai rpl anes fyi ng 20,000 ft.
above ocean areas.
On radar, distant storm (l eft) is overhead 4 hours l ater (ri ght).
RADAR EQUI PMENT has come i nto promi nent use i n
weather observati on and forecasti ng work. Desi gned pri ­
mari l y to track the course of storms ( i ncl udi ng hur ri canes) ,
some forms of radar are carri ed on ai rpl anes and enabl e
pi l ots t o go around storms or t o pick t hei r way t hrough
t hem by avoi di ng the most turbul ent areas ( p. 1 1 1 ) µ
Bel ow is a typi cal weather stati on radar equi pment
set- up. A rotati ng antenna constantl y scans the ski es. Radar
beams shoot out at the speed of l i ght, are refected from
preci pi tati on cel ls i n cl ouds, and return to the recei vi ng
part of the antenna. The receiver converts the beam to
el ectri cal i mpul ses whi ch show up on a screen much as i n
a tel evi si on receiver
Screen ( l eft) shows i nformati on col l ected by rotati ng antenna (ri ght).
1 29
1 30
Weather Maps
WEATHER MAPS summari ze al l the data sent to the
central stati ons. Two ki nds of maps are made: surface
charts and upper ai r charts.
Surface charts pl ot the fol l owi ng for each stati on: wi nd
di recti on and speed, pressure, temperature, dew poi nt,
vi si bi l ity, current weather ( rai n, snow, fog, etc. ) , the
amount and types of cl ouds and thei r hei ghts, pressure
changes i n the past 3 hours, weather i n the past 6 hours,
and the amount and ki nd of preci pi tati on. Al l thi s i s shown
by symbol s i n a space easi l y covered by a di me.
Once the data are pl otted, t he charts are anal yzed by
forecast i ng experts, who dr aw i sobars t o show l i nes of
equal pressure. Then they mark the posi ti ons of fronts
and show preci pi tati on areas. From these anal yzed charts,
the forecasters prepare forecasts and weather bul l eti ns.
The methods of maki ng forecasts are expl ai ned on pp.
1 34- 1 46.
To understand forecasti ng methods, l earn how to read
the synopti c or general surface weather maps. Ofci al
Weather Bureau maps, sent dai l y, can be purchased for
60 cents a month or $7. 20 a year from Superi ntendent of
Documents, Washi ngton 25, D. C. Newspaper weather
maps are not so compl ete but give you data a day ahead
of ofci al maps.
On thi s U. S. Weather Bureau map, shaded areas show
preci pitati on. Look for the i sobars and for the fronts. Note
the hi ghs and l ows and the symbol s for ai r masses ( mP over
Was hi ngton and mT on the Texas Gul f). Symbol s for sta­
ti on dat a are shown at the bottom of the page. On the
backs of the Dai l y Weather Maps there appear, at i nter­
val s, a s ummary of weather symbol s, anal yses of u nus ual
weather, and other general i nformati on
Wi nd speed and
:or 1 0
di recti on
omi tted-




Temperature �
Amount of
/ change i n
cl ouds

l ast 3 hours
� | D >
i n tenths af
Vi si bi l ity
Û ¸(ܯ¿Ü'
mi l l i bars
Stale of @ .�·  Pressure
weat her  {
_ ¸ __ lendency-


���� � ���,
·teadi l y
Dew pomt
of cl oud
Cl oud type
I nches of
Hei ght of
preci pi tati on
cl oud base
i n l ast 3 hours


Þ 6
al so appear as part of the Weather Bureau' s dai l y weather
map. Speci al reports appear when needed, maki ng thi s
total servi ce an outstandi ng hel p i n checki ng the weather.
NEWSPAPER WEATHER MAPS vary in detai l . Some
(as above) provi de consi derabl e data and fol l ow the
Weather Bureau pattern. Others (as bel ow) are si mpl ifed.
Ww lew Iempto:ut•t
1 33

i s not di fcul t, al though accuracy i s l i mited to about 6 to 1 2
hours. Use good newspaper maps or Weather Bureau
dai l y maps. Short- range forecasts are based on the pri n­
ci pl e of persi stence, whi ch assumes, for exampl e, that a
front movi ng at 20 mph wi l l conti nue at that rate wi th the
same weather accompanyi ng i t, and that a stati onary hi gh
wi l l remai n stati onary. Thi s pri nci pl e i s usual l y fol l owed
by expert forecasters. I t general l y works, though l ocal
conditi ons someti mes throw such predi cti ons of.
Study the weather map bel ow. For si mpl icity, onl y front­
al posi ti ons are shown, wi th a preci pi tati on area ahead
of the warm front l i ne. I f you l i ve at Dayton, Ohi o, you
know the col d front is 80 mi l es west, and movi ng at 20 mph.
The front s houl d pass Dayton i n 4 hours. Your forecast?
" Rai n showers at about 2 p. m. -cool er toni ght and to­
morrow. "
The maki ng of a short-range forecast. I t is now ! 0 AM; O col d front,
still 80 mi l es from Dayton, i s moving east at 20 mph. What is the fore·
cast for Dayton?
i n the fact that many thi ngs can change a weather pattern.
As the col d front (p. 1 34) approaches the Appal achi ans,
porti ons may be sl owed, ai r may be l ifted sl owl y here and
rapi dl y there, day and ni ght wi l l afect ai r-mass charac­
teri sti cs, and so forth. An experi enced and trai ned fore­
caster can accuratel y esti mate these t hi ngs. A begi nner
cannot-so keep records and gai n experi ence.
the persistence method wi th modi fcati ons. I t can be used
wi th fai r accuracy for peri ods greater t han 12 hours. You
can make conti nuity forecasts by i ntel l i gent use of weat her
maps. The map bel ow, and those on the next three pages,
wi l l show you the method. Monday' s map, bel ow, shows
a wave centered i n Col orado wi th a col d front extendi ng
southwest out of the l ow, and a warm fr ont extendi ng
southeast. Rai n showers l i e al ong the col d front and a
steady rai n i s fal l i ng ahead of the warm front. (See pp.
77-95 on fronts and thei r accompanyi ng weather. )
how fronts and the general weather pattern move and
change. Compare Tuesday' s map bel ow wi th Monday' s
on the precedi ng· page. The wave center has now moved
to south central Nebraska, wi th the fronts extendi ng out
i n much the same fashi on as on Monday. But the warm
sector of the wave ( south of the wave center, or crest,
connecti ng the two fronts) has become narrower. The area
of preci pi tati on ahead of the warm front sector has be­
come much wi der and, of course, the enti re pattern has
moved. Careful measurement, usi ng the map scal e at the
bottom, shows that the crest of the wave has moved about
300 mi l es eastward.
Wednesday's map at the top of the next page shows
that the low center has moved to northwestern I l l i noi s.
The col d a i r mass has overtaken the warm ai r mass and
formed an occl uded front ( pp. 92-93) t hat extends from
the l ow center to the southern ti p of I l l i noi s. Preci pi tati on
i s much the same as before, except that steady rai n now
extends over the top of the occl usi on.
1 36
500 mi les
MAKE YOUR FORECAST by pl aci ng a bl ank map
over the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday maps on the
previ ous pages and traci ng the frontal posi ti ons from
them. Next draw arrows connecti ng the poi nt of the wave
for each day. Noti ce that the arrow connecti ng Tuesday
and Wednesday poi nts more northward than the frst ar­
row connecti ng Monday and Tuesday posi ti ons.
Forecast for Thursday
1 38
To get the Thursday posi ti on of the ti p of the occl usi on,
draw a dashed arrow poi nti ng s l i ghtl y more to the north
but about the same l ength as the Tuesday-to-Wednesday
arrow. The dashed arrow i s to remi nd you that thi s i s
Wednesday and that you are maki ng a forecast for Thurs­
day. Now make arrows for the col d and warm fronts i n
the same way (refer t o map at bottom of p. 1 37). Make
sure the arrows for the fronts are perpendi cul ar to the
fronts. Next make broken forecast arrows for the fronts
and draw your weather map for Thursday-on Wednes­
day. Be sure to draw i n the preci pi tati on bel t the same as
i t was al ong the previ ous day' s fronts.
The path of the poi nt or crest of the wave on fronts (as
on precedi ng maps) fol l ows what is cal l ed a storm track.
Thi s i s the path of bad weather. A knowl edge of storm
tracks wi l l hel p you i mprove your forecasts. By ftt i ng the
path of the l ow crest from your forecast map to the storm
track map bel ow, a predi cti on for a peri od l onger than
24 hours can be made.
I f you systemati cal l y fol l ow the weather maps and ob­
serve your l ocal weather area, you shoul d be abl e to
make excel l ent short- range forecasts after a year or two
of experi ence. A trai ned meteorol ogist, knowi ng the pri n­
ci pl es of l ocal i nfl uences on weather, can make good l ocal
area forecasts wi thi n a week or so in a new area.
Storm tracks. The ar­
rows show the paths
whi ch l ow cel l s gener­
al l y fol l ow over the
Uni ted States. The
tracks are more wi de·
ly separated in wi nter
than i n summer.
upper oÎr
wi nd fow
upper ai r
jsurface fronts
forecast of surface front
t hough storms usual l y fol l ow the storm tracks shown at the
bottom of p. 1 38, they are someti mes thrown of by pat­
terns of ai r fow in the upper ai r . The pi cture above shows
how thi s happens. The green l i nes (contours) show the
pressure pattern and the bl ack arrows show wi nd di recti on
of the upper ai r. Note the posi ti on of the upper ai r "cl osed
l ow" cel l -a compl ete l ow cel l wi th t he usual counter­
cl ockwi se ai r rotati on. I t i s hi gh above the gr ound and i s
northwest of the surface l ow whi ch l i es at t he crest of the
wave formed at the frontal l i nes-conventi onal l y shown i n
bl ue and r ed.
Were i t not for the cl osed l ow cel l i n the ai r far above
the earth, the surface l ow woul d probabl y fol l ow the
storm track marked A i n the map at the bottom of p. 1 38.
But the l ow- pressure center i n the upper ai r "steers" the
surface l ow north, resul ti ng i n the forecast pa1 tern shown
i n purpl e, whi ch represents the warm sector.
1 39
1 40
- upper ai r
� surface fronts
forecast of surface l ow
THE MAP ot the top of thi s poge shows how diferentl y
o surface l ow wi l l move if the upper oi r does not contai n
o cl osed l ow-pressure cel l neor it.
The surface si tuati on i s i denti cal wi th thot shown on
t he mop on p. 1 39. But there i s no cl osed l ow cel l i n t he
upper oi r pressure pattern shown by the green contours
ond bl ock arrows. The oi r j ust above the surface l ow
(marked i n red ot the ti p of the frontal crest) i s sweepi ng
strongl y to the northeast (wi nd i n upper oi r fol l ows con­
tours-see p. 65) . So the upper oi r wi l l steer the surface
l ow di rectl y ond rapi dl y to the northeast, resul ti ng i n the
forecast pattern shown i n purpl e. The l ow has moved a
di stance of 900 mi l es as compared to a movement of
about 500 mi l es when the cl osed cel l ( p. 1 39) was present.
Upper ai r patterns are extremel y i mportant to accurate
forecasti ng by the conti nuity method, but are not pri nted
i n newspapers. They ore pri nted dai l y i n the U. S. Weather
Bureau mops (see p. 1 4 1 ) and you shoul d study them for
most occurote forecasti ng.
CONSTANT PRESSURE MAPS of the upper ai r have
contour l i nes showi ng al ti tude, not pressure. Sol i d l i nes
show the hei ght above sea l evel at whi ch the ai r pres­
sure i s 500 mi l l i bars. The standard hei ght of the 500-
mi l l i bar l evel i s 1 8, 280 feet-but i t can vary from 1 5,800
to 1 9,400 on a si ngl e chart. Note on thi s map that these
hei ghts are l owest i n the north and hi ghest i n the south.
Two upper ai r l ows exist in the far north and northwest; a
high l i es over the Southwest. Dashed l i nes show centi grade
temperature. Arrows show the wi nd.
1 41
VATI ONS Pages 1 1 2- 1 41 expl ai n how professi onal
forecasters do t hei r work and how you can do a reason­
abl e j ob usi ng good surface weather maps and upper ai r
pressure charts-after a year or so of experi ence. I t i s
possi bl e to make fai r-to- mi ddl i ng forecasts based on
"weather si gns, " barometer, and weather-vane readi ngs.
I f you use these t hi ngs pl us weather maps and a careful
readi ng of the precedi ng secti ons of the book, you shoul d
be abl e to forecast your l ocal weather wi t h accuracy.
However, i t is the cooperative reports from hundreds of
stati ons that make modern weather forecasts possi bl e.
Most weather l ore comes from farmers, hunters, and
sai l ors-peopl e most concerned wi t h t he weather. Many
weather sayi ngs have some truth i n them-for wi sdom
accumul ated as peopl e gai ned experi ence, even before
the reasons behi nd the facts were di scovered. The say­
ing "A ri ng around the moon means rai n" i s true 40 to 80
per cent of the ti me, dependi ng on l ocati on, how the
pressure i s changi ng, the di recti on the cl ouds are movi ng,
etc. I f you use thi s rul e modify i t to: "I f pressure i s fal l i ng
rapi dl y, a r i ng around the moon means rai n i n 1 8 to 48
hours, about 75 per cent of the ti me. "
. . A r i ng ar ound t he moon means rai n"-someti mes!
WEATHER SI GNS have some predi cti on val ue if you
know the atmospheri c condi ti ons they i ndicate. Here are
the backgr ound facts for understandi ng what some
weather si gns mean. I f you can expl ai n these general
rul es-of-t humb i n terms of more sci enti fc meteorol ogy,
they wi l l be of use to you.
I t i s i nteresti ng to col l ect l ocal weather si gns and l ore.
I f you can tal k wi th "ol d-ti mers" l ong resi dent i n your
regi on, see what they have to say. Then exami ne these
bel iefs i n the l i ght of present-day meteor�l ogy.
Weather wi l l general ly remai n fai r when:
The wi nd bl ows gentl y from west or northwest ( p. 66).
Barometer remai ns steady or ri ses ( pp. 85-88) .
Cumul us cl ouds dot the summer sky i n the afternoon ( p. 20) .
Morni ng fog breaks or "burns of" by noon (evi dence of cl ear sky
above) .
Rai ny weather or snow may come when:
Ci rrus cl ouds thi cken and are fol lowed by l ower cl ouds (p. 88) . (Par­
ti cul arl y true if barometer i s droppi ng. )
There i s a ri ng around the moon (pp. 17 & 88). ( Parti cul arl y true i f
barometer is droppi ng. )
Pufy cumul us cl ouds begi n to devel op vertical l y ( p. 20) .
Sky is dark ond threateni ng to the west (p. 85) .
Southerl y wi nd i ncreases i n speed with cl ouds movi ng from west (p. 85) .
The wi nd-parti cul arl y a north wi nd-shi fts i n a countercl ockwise di rec-
ti on-that is, from north to west to south (pp. 85-88) .
The barometer fal l s steadi ly (pp. 85-88) .
Weather wi l l general l y cl ear when:
Bases of cl ouds show steady ri se to hi gher types ( p. 85).
The wi nd-parti cul arl y an east wi nd-shi fts to the west ( p. 85).
The barometer ri ses rapi dl y ( pp. 85 and 88) .
Temperature wi l l usual ly fal l when:
Wi nd bl ows from-or shi fts to-north or northwest (p. 85) .
Ni ghtvkyivcl ear and wi nd is l i ght (pp. º and ! 4).
The barometer ri ses steadi l y i n wi nter (p. 85) .
Temperature wi l l usual l y rise when:
Wi nd i s from south, parti cul arl y wi th cl oud cover at ni ght or cl ear sky
duri ng the day ( pp. 9 and 88) .
1 43
1 44
A dependabl e, i nex­
pensive aneroi d bar­
ometer for home use.
Aneroi d barometer com·
bi ned wi th thermometer
and h umi dity i ndicator.
wi l l hel p you make reasonabl y good forecasts. The tabl e
i s adapted from a U. S. Weather Bureau tabl e based on
average condi ti ons over the United States. Use the tabl e
i n connecti on wi t h good dai l y weather maps, and l earn
how condi ti ons i n your l ocal ity tend to vary (because of
nearby mountai ns, l akes, ocean, or deserts, for exampl e).
A rapi d ri se or fal l i n barometric pressure ( see second
col umn i n tabl e) i s 0. 05 to 0. 09 i nches or more i n 3 hours.
A sl ow ri se or fal l i s l ess than this. Barometri c pressures i n
the tabl e are i n i nches, adj usted to sea l evel . Cal i brate
your barometer to sea- l evel pressures by checki ng wi th
your l ocal weather stati on or ai rport. Every aneroi d
barometer has a devi ce by whi ch the poi nter can be re-set.
Once set to conform to a sea- l evel readi ng of an accurate
barometer i n your l ocal ity, it shoul d requi re no further
readj ustment.
Be sure to keep records of your forecasts together wi th
records of actual weather changes. Onl y i n thi s way can
you l ear n how l ocal conditi ons afect the antici pated
Wi nd Barometric
Di rection Pressure
SW to NW
SW to NW
SW to NW
SW to NW
S to SE
S to SE
SE to NE
SE to NE
SE to NE
SE to NE
E to NE
E to NE
S to SW
S to E
E to N
Swi ngi ng to
30. 1 0 to 30. 20-
barometer steady
30. 1 0 to 30. 20-
ri si ng rapi dl y
30. 20 or above­
barometer steady
30. 20 or above­
fal l i ng sl owl y
30. 1 0 to 30.20-
fal l i ng sl owl y
30. 1 0 to 30. 20-
fal l i ng rapi dl y
30. 1 0 to 30. 20-
fal l i ng sl owl y
30 1 0 to 30. 20-
fal l i ng rapi dl y
30. 00 or below­
fal l i ng slowly
30.00 or below­
fal l i ng rapi dl y
30. 1 0 or above­
fal l i ng sl owl y
30. 1 0 or above­
fal l i ng rapi dl y
30.00 or bel ow­
ri si ng sl owl y
29. 80 or bel ow­
fal l i ng rapi dl y
29. 80 or bel ow­
fal l i ng rapi dl y
29. 80 or bel ow­
rising rapi dl y
General Forecast
Fai r, wi th l ittle temperature change
for 1 to 2 days
Fai r, wi th warmer weather and rai n
wi thi n 2 days
Remai ni ng fai r wi th l ittle tempera­
ture change
Fai r and sl owl y ri si ng temperatures
for about 2 days
Rai n withi n 24 hours
Rai n wi thi n 1 2 to 24 hours. Wi nd
wi l l rise
Rai n within 1 2 to 1 8 hours. Wi nd
wi l l rise
Rai n within 1 2 hours. Wi nd will rise
Rai n will conti nue l or more days
Rain with hi gh wi nds i n few hours.
Cl eari ng withi n 36 hours-col der
i n wi nter
Summer, with l i ght wi nds: rain in
2 to 4 days. Wi nter, rai n or snow
wi thi n 24 hours
Summer: probabl e rai n in 1 2 to 24
hours. Wi nter: rai n or snow with­
i n 1 2 hours
Cl eari ng wi thi n a few hours. Then
fair for several days
Severe storm wi thi n few hours. Then
cl eari ng withi n 24 hours-col der
i n wi nter
Severe storm (a "nor' easter" gal e)
i n few hours. Heavy rai ns or
snowstorm. Fol l owed by col d
wave i n wi nter
End of storm-cl eari ng and col der
1 45
MACHI NE FORECASTI NG as accurate as human
forecasti ng, or mor e s o, i s now bei ng done by el ectronic
computers. The U. S. Joi nt Numeri cal Weather Predi cti on
Unit began operati on of the frst "el ectroni c brai n" for
routi ne weather forecasti ng i n 1 955.
Machi ne forecasti ng i s possi bl e because movements of
the atmosphere fol l ow natural l aws whi ch can be ex­
pressed i n mathemati cal equati ons. These equati ons are
changed to coded i nstructi ons for the machi ne. Numerical
fi gures, based on weather data, are fed i nto the machi ne.
The el ectroni c "brai n" works out the predi cti ons and
pri nt s forecast maps showi ng hi ghs, l ows, and ot her data.
Machi ne forecasti ng does not repl ace the meteorol ogist.
Machi nes must be fed accurate data, and machine- pro­
duced maps must be i nterpreted and modifed i n terms of
l ocal conditi ons. But machi ne forecasti ng wi l l save thou­
sands of hours of routi ne work.
COMPUTER 36-HOUR FORECAST CHART Machi ne shades areas
between contou r l i nes and pri nts contour hei ghts on grid poi nts.
Weather and Cl i mate
Cl i mate i s the weather at a gi ven pl ace over a peri od of
time. I t i nvol ves averages, total s, and extremes to set a
pi cture of the weather patter n. Cl i mate is afected by the
same physi cal conditi ons that afect weather-l ati tude,
prevai l i ng wi nds, ocean cur rents, mountai ns, nearness to
the sea, and the l i ke. Cl i mate mi ght be cal l ed the gen­
eral i zed weather of an area.
Because c l i mate, l i ke weather, i s made up of many fac­
tors, it is i mpossi bl e to cl assify cl i mates si mpl y wi thout
i gnori ng some of them. Two pl aces wi th the same range
of temperature may have very di ferent amounts of rai n­
fal l . Hence these two factors are more useful than ei ther
one al one. So cl i m
tes are often cl assi fed by a combi na­
ti on of temperature (torri d, temperate, fri gi d) and rai n­
fal l (wet, humi d, subhumi d, semi -ari d, ari d). The most
commonl y used system stresses rai nfal l for the torri d and
temperate zones, temperatures for the col der zones. Thi s
system (see map bel ow) i s useful because it corresponds
to the natural vegetati on of regi ons .

humi d (forest)
subhumi d (grassl and
semi ari d (steppe)
ari d (desert}

CLI MATI C DATA are i mportant in agri cul ture and i n­
dustry. Farmers need t o know the l engt h of gr owi ng sea­
sons, extremes of temperature, average and mi ni mum
rai nfal l for successful growi ng of crops. The sal e of ai r
condi ti oners, sports cl othes, and wi nter wear depends on
seasonal temperature and rai nfal l . Many personal deci ­
si ons i nvol vi ng pai nti ng, gardeni ng, sports, tri ps, and
vacati ons can be better made i f c l i mati c dat a are taken
i nto account. The U. S. Weather Bureau furni shes such
i nformati on.
The cl i mates of the United States vary consi derabl y
because of the si ze of the country and i t s vari ed terrai n.
U. S. Weather Bureat fgures, recorded si nce 1 899, give a
ful l pi cture of the temperature, h umi dity, preci pitati on,
sunshi ne, frosts, storms, and other cl i mati c factors. These
data are presented on maps for easy reference. The most
i mportant of such data appear on the fol l owi ng maps.
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE i s the most commonl y used
cl i mate stati sti c. I t i s of l i mited use and i s of more val ue
when used wi th t he next two maps.
to 70
above 70
to 20
• obove 20¯F
to peopl e l i ke farmers and frui t growers than average
annual temperatures. Map above shows thi s.
in deci di ng where to l ive, in what ki nd of house, what
pl ants to grow, or if ai r condi ti oni ng i s needed.
• 30-50
• 50-70
• 70-1 00
AVERAGE PRECI PITATI ON-mai nl y rai n and snow-i s
i mportant to determi ne types of crops that can be grown.
LACK OF RAI NFALL rui ns farmers. Twenty i nches i s mi n­
i mum for most crops.
1 0-20%
0-1 0%
• 6-7
• over 7
WI NTER SUNSHI NE makes Fl ori da, Cal i forni a, and the
Southwest famous. I t i s i mportant, too, for agri cul ture.
NUMBER OF CLEAR DAYS is di ferent from average
dai l y sunshi ne. Note southern Fl ori da and Cal ifor ni a.
RELATI VE HUMI DITY spel l s comfort or di scomfort.
Summer humi dity i s hi gh i n coastal areas.
of i nterest to ski ers and farmers. Snow means spri ng water.
80-1 20
Dover 1 20
Map shows dates of l ast ki l l i ng frosts i n spri ng.
THE GROWI NG SEASON deter mi nes what pl ants can
be grown and the number of crops per season.
! 80-240
OVef 300
1 53
MI CROCLI MATES Geographical , bi ol ogi cal
and man­
made factors often make l ocal cl i mati c condi ti ons dif­
ferent from t he general cl i mate. A l ocal cl i mati c pattern
is cal l ed a mi crocl i mate. large i nl and l akes moderate tem­
perature extremes. The resul t i s cl i matic di ferences be­
tween the wi ndward and l ee si des-for exampl e, between
Mi l waukee, on wi ndward si de of lake Mi chi gan, and
Grand Haven, on the l ee si de, on l y 85 mi l es east (see
frst t abl e bel ow).
Pl ants create mi crocl i mati c di ferences ch i efy by thei r
use of water and by thei r efect on wi nds ( see second tabl e
bel ow). Wi ndbreaks ar e grown t o make a favorabl e
Cl i mati c Peri od Mi l waukee Grand Haven
condi ti on of year wi ndward shore l eeward shore
Av. temp. January 3. 6
F hi gher
Av. temp. August 2. 0
F h i gher
Preci pi tati on Dec. -Feb. 2. 09 i n. more
Preci pi tati on J une-Aug. 0. 55 i n. more
Snowfal l Jan. -Dec. 44 days more
Rei . h umi di ty Dec.-Feb. 5% more
Wi nd speed Dec. -Feb. ! .4 mph more
Warmer i n wi nter
Wi nd speeds reduced
Rel ative h u mi dity hi gher
Water storage hi gh
Open l and
War mer i n summer
Wi nd speeds hi gher
Rel ati ve humi dity lower
Water storage l ow
mi crocl i mate on farms. The pl acement of a new dwel l i ng
i n regard to frost drai nage, l ocal breezes, and uti l i zati on
of wi nter s unl i ght may make great di ference i n l i vabi l ity,
and i n fuel economy duri ng wi nter.
Heavy, col d ai r fows downhi l l , formi ng col d pockets i n
val l eys. Frost i s much more common t here; so oranges,
grapes, and appl es are pl anted on hi l l si des to i nsure "frost
drai nage" when col d spel l s come. The frst tabl e bel ow
shows microcl i mati c di ferences between val l eys and hi l l s.
Ci t i es i nduce convecti on cur rents whi ch cause hi gher
c l ouds and somewhat more rai n t han i n the nearby coun
try. Because of sewer drai nage in ci ti es, l ess water stands
and evaporates. Thus rel ati ve humi di ty i s l ower i n ci ti es.
The second chart bel ow shows other di ferences.
Cl i mati c condi ti on Peri od Val l eys
Mi ni mum temp. dai l y much l ower
Temp. range dai l y & annual l arger
Frost n ight mor e
Wi nd speed n i ght l ower
Fog morni ng more
Haze and smog
Temperature hi gher
Cou ntrysi de
Cl ear
Temperature l ower
Hi l l s
hi gher
smal l er
l ess
hi gher
l ess
Wi nd speed and radi ati on l ess Wi nd speed and radi ati on hi gher
1 00
IS OUR CLI MATE CHANGI NG? Recent newspaper
and magazi ne arti cl es have cl ai med that our c l i mate i s
warmi ng up. Perhaps thi s i s true-per haps not.
Through geol ogi cal hi story the normal cl i mate of the
earth was so warm that subtropi cal weather reached to
60° N and S and there was a total absence of pol ar i ce.
I t i s onl y duri ng l ess than 1 per cent of the earth' s hi s­
tory that gl aci ers have reached down from the pol ar
areas to what is now the temperate zone of the northern
hemi sphere. The l atest such advance, whi ch started about
1 ,000,000 years ago, was marked by geol ogi cal upheaval
and the begi nni ng of man. Duri ng thi s ti me vast i ce sheets
advanced and retreated over the conti nents, the last re­
treat occurri ng 30,000 to 40,000 years ago.
Wi thi n recorded hi story there have been mi nor gl aci al
advances and retreats. Al pi ne passes now covered wi th
i ce were used from A. D. 600 to 700. Shi ps sai l ed from
Lei f Eri cson's Greenl and through routes now bl ocked by
i ce foes. From A. D. 1 000 to 1 200 there were fouri shi ng
settl ements i n Greenl and. Gradual l y, cool i ng of the cl i­
mate forced thei r abandonment about t he year 1 400.
I s the earth real l y warmi ng? A 2° F i ncrease i n the
earth' s overal l temperature woul d cl ear the pol ar seas
of al l i ce. Yet today i n parts of wester n North Ameri ca
gl aci ers are percepti bl y advanci ng whi l e the east coast
seems to be warmi ng.
We have routi ne temperature measurements for onl y
1 00 years-and these not t oo rel i abl e, because of changes
i n i nstruments and methods of observati on.
The onl y concl usi on t o be drawn about our cl i mate i s
t hat we do not know whether i t i s changi ng drasti cal l y.
Geol ogi cal l y we may be at the end of the I ce Age, or
we may j ust be havi ng a breathi ng spel l of a few cen­
turi es before the next advance of the gl aci ers.
The fol l owi ng books wi l l further your knowl edge a n d en­
j oyment of weather. The U. S. Weather Bureau, Washi ng­
ton 25, D. C. , publ i shes monographs and peri odical s on
al l phases of meteorol ogy. Write for a free l i st of gov­
ernment weather publ i cati ons to the Superi ntendent of
Documents, Washi ngton 25, D. C.
Byers, Horace Robert, GENERAL METEOROLOGY, McGraw- Hi l l Book Co. ,
New York, 1 959. An i ntroductory col l ege text coveri ng basi c pri n­
ci pl es.
Critchfel d, Howard J. , GEN ERAL CL I MATOLOGY, Prentice Hal l , New Jer­
sey, 1 960. A basi c text coveri ng regi onal , physi cal and appl i ed
cl i matol ogy.
Hambri dge, Grove, CL I MATE AND MAN-A SUMMARY. Thi s s ummary i s
an overvi ew of the arti cl es i n the 1 941 YEARB OOK OF AGR I CULTU R E
on meteorol ogy and cl i matol ogy.
Haynes, B. C. , TECHN 1 9UE S OF OBSERVI NG THE WEATHER, John Wi l ey
& Sons, New York, 1 947. Thi s el ementary book i s wel l suited for
those who wi sh to take up weather as a hobby. One chapter shows
how to i mprovise a weather station.
Longstret h, T. M. , UNDERSTANDI NG T HE WEATHER, The Macmi l l an Co. ,
New York, 1 953. A si mpl e, i nteresti ng, non-tech ni cal account of the
Sl oane, Eri c, ERI C SLOANE' s WEATHE R BooK, Duel l
, New York, 1 952.
I nteresti ng weather i l l ustrati ons and cartoons accompany a readabl e
account of weather phenomena.
OF THE SKY. Cl oud photographs i l l ustrate the Cl oud Code speci fca­
ti ons. Order from Superi ntendent of Documents.
WEATHERWI SE, Ameri can Meteorol ogi cal Soci ety, 3 Joy Street, Boston
b, Mass. Non-techni cal , bi-monthl y weather magazi ne contai ni ng
surveys and many "how t o" arti cl es. February i s s ue each year i s an
al manac of previ ous year' s weather.
Bureau ( order from Superi ntendent of Documents). Graphi c presen­
tation of precedi ng month' s weather and esti mate of expected rai n­
fal l and temperatures for next 30 days.
1 57
Asteri sks ( *) i ndicate i l l ustrati ons.
Adi abati c change, 1 4, Ci rcul ati on, atmos- Cumu l oni mbus (cont. )
1 5, 39
pheric, 1 0, *56-*58
anvi l top, 98
Ai r, composi ti on, 1 2, 36 Ci rrocumul us, * 1 7, 88 forms l ow pressure
see also.Atmosphere
Ci rrostratus, * 1 7 area, 67
Air condi ti oni ng, 38,
Ci rrus, * 1 7 Cumul us, * 1 6, 20, 71
1 49
Cl ear days, * 1 51 can become thunder-
Ai r masses, 68-76
Cl i mate, 1 47- 1 55 head, *98
cl assi fed, 69
l ocal , 1 54- 1 55 Currents, verti cal , 71
conti nental vs. mai n types, 1 47 Cycl ones:
mari ti me, 70
U. S. , * 1 47 extratropi cal , 90,91
North Ameri can, *69, Cl oud droplets, *22 i n I ndi an Ocean, 1 05
Cl oudi ness, average, 7 i n Mi dwest: see
summer, 74-75 Cl oud seedi ng, 3 1 -33 Tornadoes
- wi nter, 72 -73
Cl ouds: tropi cal , 1 06
p gAl ti meter, 1 20, 1 3 1
cl assi fed, 1 6-20 see also Low pressure
:  Al tocumul us, 1 6, * 1 8 h i gh, 1 7 areas
I Al tostratus, 1 6, * 1 8,
how formed, 1 3- 1 5
� *83, *88
l ow, 1 9
w O Anemometer, * 1 1 8, * 1 24 mi ddl e, 1 8
Ñ Antarcti c, seasons, 49
names, 1 6
� Anti cycl one: see Hi gh- of verti cal devel op-

pressure areas
~ � Arcti c, seasons, 49
g Atmosphere:
_ appearance, *34
g ci rcu l ati on, 1 0, 56-5
^ densi ty, 35
heat storage, B
moderate tempera­
ture, 9
shi el d agai nst

meteors, 57
ú wei ght, 35
� see also Ai r
• ²��·��
1 58
Bal l oons, weather, 1 1 2,
1 1 8, * 1 26, * 1 27,
1 28
Barograph, * 1 20
aneroi d, * 1 1 9, * 1 20,
* 1 44
as a l ti meter, 1 20
home use, * 1 44
mercuri al , * 1 1 9, * 1 20
Beaufort wi nd scal e,
1 25
Carbon di oxi de, 36
Cei l i ng, 1 26
Chi nook, 41
ment , 20
rai n, 1 9
refect s unl i ght, 7
scud, 1 9
symbol s, 20
types: cl ue to cei l i ng,
1 26
wi th fronts, *83, *86
Coal escence, 22-*23
i n cl oud seedi ng, 3 1 ,
Col d front, 82-83
weather sequence,
82-83, 85
Cold waves, b
Col dest regi on, 62
Condensati on:
efect on tempera­
lure, 1 3, 40-41
i n hurri canes, 1 07
Constant pressure
mops, * 1 41
Conti nental Pol ar ai r,
72, 74
Convecti on, 1 0- 1 1
Corona, with al to­
cumul us, 1 8
Cosmi c rays, 45
Cumul oni mbus, *20,
*23, *96, 98-99
Dai l y Weather Map,
* 1 3 1
Day a n d ni ght : l ength,

Desert, 67, 1 47
Dew, *28
Dew poi nt, 1 2
Dol drums, 58-59
Dri zzl e, 1 9
Dropsonde, 1 28
Dust devi l s, 67
E layer, 45
Earth :
axi s, 49
moti on i n space, 48
rotati on afects
wi nds, 53, 65
radi ates heat, 1 4
El ectri c charge, of
cl ouds, 99
El ectroni c computers,
1 46
rotati on at, 53
heat, 1 0
Equatori al front, 79
Equi nox, *49
Evaporati on, 30
Exosphere, 37, 46
Expansi on of ai r, 38
F layer, 45
Fal l , season, 49
Fog, 25, 74
Fol kl ore, 1 42- 1 43
Forecasti ng: Horse l ati tudes, b Meteors, 47
conti nui ty method, Humidi ty: Mi crocl i mates, 1 54- 1 55
1 35- 1 38 and cl i mate, 1 47 Mol ecul es, in ai r, 35
from observati ons, water vapor, 1 2 Moon, 5 , 9
1 42- 1 45 see also Rel ati ve Mother- of- pearl cl ouds,
from a map, 1 30, humi di ty *46
1 33, 1 34, 1 40 Hurri canes, * 1 04- 1 1 1 Mountai ns, efect of,
persi stence method, eye, * 1 04, * l OB 1 1 , 67, 72
1 34- 1 35 formati on, 1 07
tabl e, 1 45 sources, paths, 58,
Ni ght, l ength, 50
Forecasts: 1 05, 1 09
Ni mbostratus, 1 9
by machi ne, 1 46 warni ng system, 1 1 1
Ni trogen, i n ai r, 36
monthl y, 1 56 West- I ndi an, 1 05- 1 06
Noct i l ucent cl ouds, *47
newspaper, 1 1 4 wi nd speeds, 1 04
North Pol e, seasons,
Forests, efect of, 7, Hygrograph, * 1 22
49, 50
1 54
I ce:
Nucl ei : 23, 24
Fractocumul us, 1 6
crystal structure, 32
arti fci al , 31 -33
Fractostratus, 1 6, 1 9
i n cl ouds, 1 7, 22-*23
Oceans, temperature
Fri gi d Zone, 1 47
Fronts, 77-95
needl es, *25
of, 70
characteri sti cs, 78
pel l ets, 23, *25
Overcast, efect of, 7, 9
col d: see Col d fronts
prisms, *25
Oxygen, i n ai r, 36
defned, 77
I nstruments:
see Weather
Pi l ot bal l oons, 1 1 2, 1 27
map symbol s, 94
I ntertropi cal converg-
Pol ar air masses, 76
occl uded, *92- *94
ence zone, *39, 1 06
Pol ar easterl i es, 59
on charts, 1 30
Pol ar, b, 79
I onosphere, 37, *45
Pol ar front, b, 79
stati onary, 89
I rri gati on, and snow, 30
Pol ar regi ons: c l i mate, 7
warm: see Warm
I sobars, 65, 1 30
Preci pi tati on:
Jet stream, *42- *43
average, U. S. , 1 50
condi ti ons for, 2 1 -23
weak, 89
Kennel l y- Heavi si de dai l y map, * 1 32
Frost, 28
l ayer, 45 measurement, 1 23
in U. S. , * 1 53
Knot, 1 25 mi ni mum for farm-
i n val l eys, 1 55
i ng, * 1 50
l ightni ng, 99- 1 00
Gl aze, 25, 27
Low-pressure areas
Pressure, atmospheri c:
Great Lakes, efect, 72
formati on, 60, 67
at col d front, 85
Ground water, 30
how l ocated, 66
at sea l evel , 64
Growi ng season, 1 53
paths over U. S. , 1 38
measurement, 1 1 9-
wi th fronts, *90-91
1 20
Hai l , *26 vs. hei ght, 1 1 9
Hal os, * 1 7, *25 Mackerel sky: see
Prevai l i ng westerl i es,
Heat: Ci rrocumul us
56, 59
absorbed by earth, Magneti sm, of earth, 46
Proverbs, BB
1 1 Mares' t ai l s, * 1 7
Psychrometer, * 1 22
cause of weather, 5 Mari ti me Pol ar
of compressi on, 38 ai r, 72-75 Radar, * 1 29
of condensati on, 41 Mari ti me Tropi cal Ai r, detects hi gh- l evel
trapped by atmos- 73, 75 wi nds, 1 27
phere, 8 Meteorograph, * 1 24 pi cks up squal l l i nes,
Hi gh- pressure areas: Meteorol ogi sts: 84
formation, 60-62 private, 1 1 6-1 1 7 use t o pi l ots, 1 1 1 , 1 29
how l ocated, ó vs. machi nes, 1 46 Radi ati on, sol ar, 6
permanent, 62 Meteorol ogy: 4, 1 1 6, Radi osonde, 1 1 3, * 1 1 8,
wi nd vel oci ti es, 65 1 1 8 * 1 28
1 59
Rai n, 22, 23, 89 Supercool i ng, 27 Water:
cl ouds, 1 9 Supersaturati on, 21 i n t he atmosphere, 1 2
gauge, * 1 1 8, * 1 23 Symbol s: on earth, 1 2
wi th col d front, 83 cl oud, 20 underground, 30
see also: Preci pi tati on front, 94 Water cycl e, 1 3, 29-30
Rai nfal l :
weather, 1 3 1 Water vapor:
how measured, 1 23
wi nd, 1 25 amount in ai r, 36
stati sti cs, * 1 50
Synopti c maps, 1 30 and humi di ty, 1 2
Rai nmaki ng, 31 -33
Tel etype report, * 1 1 5
and temperature, 1 2
Rel ati ve h umi di ty, 1 2,
Temperate zone, 1 47
Waterspout, * 1 03
1 22, 1 55
Weather, 5
U. S. summer aver·
forecasti ng, 1 1 2.1 1 7
changes, and

age, * 1 52
weather, 5
i nstruments, 1 1 8- 1 29
Ri ng around moon, 1 42
c l i mate factor, 1 47
l ore, 1 42- 1 43
dai l y cycl e, 52
si gns, 1 43
Safety, from l i ghtni ng,
dai l y map, * 1 32
symbol s, * 1 33
1 00
maps, * 1 48- * 1 49
Weather maps, 1 30-* 1 53
Saturati on, of ai r, 1 2
measurement, 1 2 1
Dai l y, * 1 3 1
Schaefer, Vi ncent J . , 32
Theodol i te, * 1 27
dai l y preci pi tati on,
Scud c l ouds, 1 9 * 1 32
Seasons, * 4, * 49, 52
Thermograph, * 1 2 1
dai l y temperatures,
• Thermometers, * 1 2 1
.Sl eet: see I ce pel l ets
* 1 32
Snow: for pi l ots, *95
see Cumul oni mbus
condi ti ons for, 2 1 , 24
Thunderstorms, 96- 1 00
frequency of i ssue, 1 1 8
crystal s, *24 i n newspapers, 1 30,
areas of occurrence,
determi nes water
* 1 33
suppl y, 3 1 , 1 52
devel opment of, 99
surface, 1 30-* 1 3 1
in U. S. , * 1 52
in unstabl e warm ai r,
upper ai r , * 1 39- *1 41

pel l ets, *25 Wi l l y-Wi l l ies, 1 05
� refects sunl i ght, 7
j udgi ng thei r di s-
Wi nds:
water content, 30
lance, 97
al oft, 1 27

see also: Preci pi tati on and pressute, 65
Tornadoes, 1 01 -* 1 03
Sol sti ce, *49
Torrid zone, 1 47
l ocal , 1 1
South Pol e: seasons, 49 Wi nd di rect ion :
Trade wi nds, 56, 59
Southern hemi sphere, 58
Tropi cal ai r masses, 76
and earth' s rotati on,
Spri ng, 49
Tropopause, *42
foods, 30
Troposphere, 37-39
i n hi gh pressure
Squal l l i nes, 84
Typhoons, b, 1 05
areas, 64 •
Storm track, * 1 38 i ndicators, * 1 24

Storms, 96- 1 1 1
U. S. Weather Bureau:
shifts as front passes,

Stratocumul us, * 1 9
cl i mate data, 1 48
78, 85, 1 24
Stratosphere, 37, 44
forecast accuracy, 1 1 3
transmitter, * 1 1 8
Stratus, * 1 6, * 1 9
maps avai l abl e, 1 30
si gni fcance, 1 24
observation stations,
Wi nd speed, 1 24
ai r masses, 74
1 1 2- 1 1 3
Beaufort scal e, 1 25
fronts, 8 1
services, 1 1 4, 1 1 7
Wi nd vane, * 1 24
rel ati ve humi dity,
Upper air charts, 1 1 8,
Wi nter:
* 1 52
* 1 39-* 1 41
ai r masses, 72-73
warmth, 50- 51
Vertical currents, 20
fronts, 80
Sun, 6, 50 reason for col d, 50-51
Sunshi ne:
Vonnegut, Bernard, 32
sunshi ne overages,
durati on: transmi t- Warm fronts, *86-*87, * 1 51
ter, * 1 1 8, * 1 27 90-91
Worl d Meteorol ogi cal
wi nter average, * 1 51 weather sequence, 88 Organi zati on, 1 1 3
1 60
. L EHR i s a meteorol ogi st wi t h t he sci ­
enti fi c Servi ces Di vi si on of U. S. Ai r Weat her
Servi ce. Dur i ng Wor l d War | | he ser ved as
meteor ol ogi st i n t he southwest Paci fc. He has
t aught meteor ol og
, and for si x
ears was a
seni or meteor ol ogi st of t he U. S. Ai r Force
Weather Central .
R . WI LL BURNETT, Ph. D. , Professor of Sci ence
Educati on, Uni versi ty of I l l i noi s, has served as
speci al consul tant for the War Department
and t he Ci vi l Aeronauti cs Authority, and i s
author of many sci enti fc texts.
HERBERT S. ZIM, Ph. D. , formerl y Professor of
Educati on, University of I l l i noi s, i s an out­
standi ng authori ty on sci ence educati on, and
co-author of al l t he Gol den Nature Gui des.
(See back cover for other ti tl es. )
HARRY McNAUGHT attended the Phi l adel ­
phi a Museum School of Ar t . He i s a frst- pri ze
wi nner of the Society of I l l ustrators, and hi s
work has become wel l known i n sci enti fc j our­
nal s and j uveni l e books, i ncl udi ng the Golden
Book OÍ oCt6nC6.
are an introduction to the world of
nature, a gui de to t he most common,
most easily seen, and most interest­
ing aspects of the world around us.
Each guide combines the authority
of an eminent scientist and of an ex­
pert i n science education-Or. Her­
bert b. Zim. These Ï00 page books
overfow with accurate full color
illustrati ons and concise, double­
checked information which makes
i dentifcation and understanding the
subj ect easy and enjoyable.
Wt tbtttsMA¬A0sMs>1¡ >s1t1L1s

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