How Do Mountains Affect Precipitation?

In basic terms, the two things needed for precipitation are moisture and lift. Temperature profiles and landmasses can also affect how much rain a region gets. Mountains can have a significant effect on rainfall. When air reaches the mountains, it is forced to rise over this barrier. As the air moves up the windward side of

The Power of Weather Symbols

Have you ever seen a weather map and wondered what the symbols on it meant? Surface maps are great tools for getting a quick look at weather conditions. They allow meteorologists to gain a wealth of information about the weather at a glance by viewing the various symbols. The origin of some weather symbols, such

Our 2018 Severe Weather Season Forecast

You may have spring fever. You may be ready for grass to turn green and flowers to bloom. But, are you prepared for the threat of severe weather this spring? The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) evaluated the probability of severe weather throughout the year for a 30-year period

How Does Freezing Rain Form?

Winter can bring a wide variety of weather conditions, including various types of precipitation. Freezing rain, for instance, can be especially hazardous and forms in very specific conditions. Different types of winter precipitation (freezing rain, sleet, and snow) form in the same fundamental way. The main difference among these precipitation types lies in the temperature

What Causes Sea Fog?

Sea fog poses a significant challenge to marine operations in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Locations such as Galveston and the Houston Ship Channel frequently experience visibility restrictions from sea fog during winter and spring. Sea fog forms when warm, moist air moves over colder water and cools to its dew point temperature, causing the

Understanding the Hurricane Cone of Uncertainty

If you’re reading this article, chances are pretty good you’ve heard of Hurricane Irma. She reached Category 5 this morning, the strongest on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts over 200 mph. You may have also noticed a funnel or cone shape forecasting her path. This is called the Cone of

Houston’s History of Floods

Founded in 1836 where the Buffalo Bayou met White Oak Bayou, Houston has faced many floods. Not long after being established, the settlement flooded. Initially swamp land, people began to try and drain the area. Done with no planning, draining the land did not account for flooding rains. Flooding rains would come again and again

Outflow Boundaries and Gust Fronts

We have all experienced a gust front, or outflow boundary, before. It is a process associated with thunderstorms and can cause winds strong enough to cause damage. While tied to thunderstorms, the gust front gets to you before the storm does. Gust fronts and outflow boundaries are the same thing. Similar to a cold front,

How Safe are Stadiums When Lightning Strikes

Do you think you are safe from lightning when in a stadium? If you are a college football fan, you probably noticed that the game between the University of Oklahoma and Ohio State University was delayed on Saturday, Sept 17. Media may have shown rain falling, but it was actually a lightning delay that caused the

How are Hurricane Wind Speeds Determined?

With tropical storms and hurricanes churning in the oceans, you may be hearing them called Cat 2 or Cat 3 storms. What does that mean and how do they figure out that number? It’s actually pretty interesting, but not a job for the faint of heart. While satellites, radars and computer models can help meteorologists