Weather Phenomena

Lightning Bolts

Lightning Bolts

Jake Simons, Junior Editor

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Hail in the United States costs as much as 22 billion dollars in damages, each year. The entire U.S midwest gets pounded by severe thunderstorms that produce hail, lightning, and tornadoes, each can be deadly if not in shelter. But have you wondered how these events occur in the first place?

As I stated earlier, my first topic will be about hail. Hail usually only occurs in severe thunderstorms but sometimes happens in a normal thunderstorm as well. Hail starts forming when an updraft in a storm brings water droplets high enough to where they freeze. Once in the air and frozen the ice starts colliding with each other, causing the frozen water droplets to increase in size. But, if the updraft is strong, then the hail will have more time to collide with eachother to become baseball size. This phenomenon usually happens in a very severe storm, usually the storm would be tornado warned if it has baseball size hail (given the amount of energy the storm has it could be rotating).

My next phenomenon are tornadoes. Nobody knows how one supercell (a storm that is rotating) has a tornado but another doesn’t, this baffles scientists to this day even with the technology we have. Thunderstorms form when warm, moist air from the Gulf mixes with cool, dry air from Canada creating instability in the atmosphere. The more unstable the atmosphere is the greater the chance of having a severe storm or something called a supercell. Luckily, in Oklahoma, many people have started getting certified storm cellars in their house, mostly in their garages.

My last subject is lightning and how it occurs. Lightning strikes when positive and negative charges grow large enough to create a spark. Lots of small pieces of ice bump into each other as they move around. All these collisions cause a build up of electrical charge. Lightning is around 53,540 degrees fahrenheit (about 29,726 degrees celsius), the same temperature as the surface of the sun. This is why many lightning strikes cause fires every year. Lightning is so devastating towards humans since our heart uses electricity to beat, and any electrical charge significant enough can offset our heart or cause a heart attack.

These weather phenomena have stunned scientists in the way these events occur, especially tornadic events. The biggest question that still lays in the meteorology community, is why one supercell might possess a tornado but another does not. Here is a link that can show you how to identify severe storms or to know if you will be hit by a severe storm in the close future (https://www.weather.gov/ama/severesafety).