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Information used by forecasters to determine what the weather might be elsewhere when compared with past weather conditions at the same degree of longitude.
Climates with distinct winter and summer seasons, typical of regions found between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and the Arctic and Antarctic Circles. Considered the climate of the middle latitudes.
The measure of molecular motion or the degree of heat of a substance. It is measured on an arbitrary scale from absolute zero, where the molecules theoretically stop moving. It is also the degree of hotness or coldness. In surface observations, it refers primarily to the free air or ambient temperature close to the surface of the earth.
TERMINAL DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR (TDWR)
Doppler radar installed at major airports throughout the United States to detect microbursts.
Long wave radiation that is emitted by the earth back into the atmosphere. Most of it is absorbed by the water vapor in the atmosphere, while less than ten percent is radiated directly into space.
Local name in the south-central Great Plains for strong winter winds blowing north or northwest following a sharp cold front with dropping temperatures. Marked by a dark, blue-black sky.
A warm spell of weather when ice and snow melt. To free something from the binding action of ice by warming it to a temperature above the melting point of ice.
An optical instrument used to track the motion of a pilot balloon, or pibal, by measuring the elevation and azimuth angles.
Also known as heat low, it is an area of low pressure due to the high temperatures caused by intensive heating at the surface. It tends to remain stationary over its source area, with weak cyclonic circulation. There are no fronts associated with it. An example is the low that develops over southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico during the summer months.
A vertical negative temperature gradient in some layer of a body of water which is appreciably greater than the gradients above and below it. In the ocean, this may be seasonal, due to the heating of the surface water in the summer, or permanent.
Study of the processes that involve the transformation of heat into mechanical work, of mechanical work into heat, or the flow of heat from a hotter body to a colder body.
Essentially, a self-recording thermometer. A thermometer that continuously records the temperature on a chart.
In oceanography, it pertains to when both temperature and salinity act together. An example is thermohaline circulation which is vertical circulation induced by surface cooling, which causes convective overturning and consequent mixing.
An instrument used for measuring temperature. The different scales used in meteorology are Celsius, Fahrenheit, and Kelvin or Absolute.
A thermal classification, it is the layer of the atmosphere located between the mesosphere and outer space. It is a region of steadily increasing temperature with altitude, and includes all of the exosphere and most, if not all, of the ionosphere.
The thickness of a layer in the atmosphere is proportional to the mean temperature of that whole layer. The layer most often used in meteorology is between 1000 and 500 millibars. There can be different temperature profiles in the lowest layer of the atmosphere with the same 1000-500 millibar thickness value, depending on what is happening above that lowest layer. For example, if the lower levels are warming but higher levels are cooling, the overall mean temperature, the thickness, could remain the same. Likewise, on a sunny day, the amount of incoming solar radiation, affects the temperature right at the earth’s surface, without necessarily having much effect on the thickness of the whole layer.
The sound emitted by rapidly expanding gases along the channel of a lightning discharge. Over three-quarters of lightning’s electrical discharge is used in heating the gases in the atmosphere in and immediately around the visible channel. Temperatures can rise to over 10,000°C in microseconds, resulting in a violent pressure wave, composed of compression and rarefaction. The rumble of thunder is created as one’s ear catches other parts of the discharge, the part of the lightning flash nearest registering first, then the parts further away.
A wintertime thunderstorm from which falls snow instead of rain. Violent updrafts and at or below freezing temperatures throughout the atmosphere, from surface to high aloft, discourage the melting of snow and ice into rain. Intense snowfall rates often occur during these situations.
Produced by a cumulonimbus cloud, it is a microscale event of relatively short duration characterized by thunder, lightning, gusty surface winds, turbulence, hail, icing, precipitation, moderate to extreme up and downdrafts, and under the most severe conditions, tornadoes.
The periodic rising and falling of the earth’s oceans and atmosphere. It is the result of the tide-producing forces of the moon and the sun acting on the rotating earth. This propagates a wave through the atmosphere and along the surface of the earth’s waters.
The inclination to the vertical of a significant feature of the pressure pattern or of the field of moisture or temperature. For example, midlatitide troughs tend to display a westward tilt with altitude through the troposphere.
A series of Television InfraRed Observation Satellites that demonstrated the feasibility and capability of observing the cloud cover and weather patterns of earth from space. An experimental program, it was the first spaceborne system that allowed meteorologists to acquire information that was immediately put to use in an operational setting. The first U.S. weather satellite, TIROS I, was launched on April 1, 1960, and TIROS X, the last of the series, was launched on July 2, 1965.
A violently rotating column of air in contact with and extending between a convective cloud and the surface of the earth. It is the most destructive of all storm-scale atmospheric phenomena. They can occur anywhere in the world given the right conditions, but are most frequent in the United States in an area bounded by the Rockies on the west and the Appalachians in the east.
A geographic corridor in the United States which stretches north from Texas to Nebraska and Iowa. In terms of sheer numbers, this section of the United States receives more tornadoes than any other.
Another name for cumulus congestus, it is a rapidly growing cumulus or an individual dome-shaped clouds whose height exceeds its width. Its distinctive cauliflower top often mean showers below, but lacking the characteristic anvil of a cumulonimbus, it is not a thunderstorm.
Generally, an unmeasurable or insignificant quantity. A precipitation amount of less than 0.005 inch.
Two belts of prevailing winds that blow easterly from the subtropical high pressure centers towards the equatorial trough. Primarily lower level winds, they are characterized by their great consistency of direction. In the Northern Hemisphere, the trades blow from the northeast, and in the Southern Hemisphere, the trades blow from the southeast.
The curve that a body, such as a celestial object, describes in space. This applies to air parcel movement also.
Not transparent, but clear enough to allow light to pass through.
An electronic instrument system which provides a continuous record of the atmospheric transmission between two fixed points. By showing the transmissivity of light through the atmosphere, the horizontal visibility may be determined.
A condition where a material is clear enough not to block the passage of radiant energy, especially light.
The process by which water in plants is transferred as water vapor to the atmosphere.
The point at which any three atmospheric boundaries meet. It is most often used to refer to the point of occlusion of an extratropical cyclone where the cold, warm, and occluded fronts meet. Cyclogenesis may occur at a triple point. It is also the condition of temperature and pressure under which the gaseous, liquid, and solid forms of a substance can exist in equilibrium.
The region of the earth located between the Tropic of Cancer, at 23.5 degrees North latitude, and the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees South latitude. It encompasses the equatorial region, an area of high temperatures and considerable precipitiation during part of the year.
TROPICAL AIR MASS
An air mass that forms in the tropics or subtropics over the low latitudes. Maritime tropical air is produced over oceans and is warm and humid, while continental tropical air is formed over arid regions and is very hot and dry.
A warm core low pressure system which develops over tropical, and sometimes subtropical, waters, and has an organized circulation. Depending on sustained surface winds, the system is classified as a tropical disturbance, a tropical depression, a tropical storm, or a hurricane or typhoon.
A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface winds are 38 miles per hour (33 knots) or less. Characteristically having one or more closed isobars, it may form slowly from a tropical disturbance or an easterly wave which has continued to organize.
An area of organized convection, originating in the tropics and occasionally the subtropics, that maintains its identity for 24 hours or more. It is often the first developmental stage of any subsequent tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane.
TROPICAL PREDICTION CENTER (TPC)
A division of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the Center issues watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous weather conditions in the tropics for both domestic and international communities. The National Hurricane Center is a branch.
For further information, contact the TPC, located in Miami, Florida.
A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface winds are from 39 miles per hour (34 knots) to 73 miles per hour (63 knots). At this point, the system is given a name to identify and track it.
Another name for an easterly wave, it is an area of relatively low pressure moving westward through the trade wind easterlies. Generally, it is associated with extensive cloudiness and showers, and may be associated with possible tropical cyclone development.
TROPIC OF CANCER
The most northern point on the earth where the sun is directly overhead, located at approximately 23.5 degrees North latitude.
TROPIC OF CAPRICORN
The most southern point on the earth where the sun is directly overhead, located at approximately 23.5 degrees South latitude.
The boundary zone or transition layer between the troposphere and the stratosphere. This is characterized by little or no increase or decrease in temperature or change in lapse rate with increasing altitude.
The lowest layer of the atmosphere located between the earth’s surface to approximately 11 miles (17 kilometers) into the atmosphere. Characterized by clouds and weather, temperature generally decreases with increasing altitude.
An elongated area of low atmospheric pressure that is associated with an area of minimum cyclonic circulation. The opposite of a ridge.
An ocean wave with a long period that is formed by an underwater earthquake or landslide, or volcanic eruption. It may travel unnoticed across the ocean for thousands of miles from its point of origin and builds up to great heights over shallower water. Also known as a seismic sea wave, and incorrectly, as a tidal wave.
Ground fog in the central valley of California and the leading cause of weather-related casualties in that state. It forms at night and in the early morning when the ground cools, lowering the air temperature near the ground to or below its initial dew point.
The irregular and instantaneous motions of air which is made up of a number of small of eddies that travel in the general air current. Atmospheric turbulence is caused by random fluctuations in the wind flow. It can be caused by thermal or convective currents, differences in terrain and wind speed, along a frontal zone, or variation in temperature and pressure.
Often called dusk, it is the evening period of waning light from the time of sunset to dark. The time of increasing light in the morning is called dawn. Twilight ends in the evening or begins in the morning at a specific time and can be categorized into three areas of decreasing light. Civil twilight is the time in the evening when car headlights need to be turned on to be seen by other drivers. Nautical twilight is when the bright stars used by navigators have appeared and the horizon may still be seen. Astronomical twilight is when the sunlight is still shining on the higher levels of the atmosphere, yet it is dark enough for astronomical work to begin. During dawn, the reverse order occurs until full daylight.
A slang term used in the United States for a tornado.
The name for a tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour (65 knots) or greater in the western North Pacific Ocean. This same tropical cyclone is known as a hurricane in the eastern North Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean, and as a cyclone in the Indian Ocean.