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The Weather Portal

Weather is an all-encompassing term used to describe all of the many and varied phenomena that occur in the atmosphere of a planet at a given time. The term usually refers to the activity of these phenomena over short periods of hours or days, as opposed to the term climate, which refers to the average atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time. When used without qualification, "weather" is understood to be the weather of Earth.

Weather most often results from temperature differences from one place to another, caused by the Sun heating areas near the equator more than the poles, or by different areas of the Earth absorbing varying amounts of heat, due to differences in albedo, moisture, and cloud cover. Surface temperature differences in turn cause pressure differences. A hot surface heats the air above it and the air expands, lowering the air pressure. The resulting pressure gradient accelerates the air from high to low pressure, creating wind, and Earth's rotation causes curvature of the flow via the Coriolis effect. These simple systems can interact, producing more complex systems, and thus other weather phenomena.

The strong temperature contrast between polar and tropical air gives rise to the jet stream. Most weather phenomena in the mid-latitudes are caused by instabilities of the jet stream flow (see baroclinity) or by weather fronts. Weather systems in the tropics are caused by different processes, such as monsoons or organized thunderstorm systems.

Because the Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbital plane, sunlight is incident at different angles at different times of the year. In June the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun, while in December it is tilted away, causing yearly changes in the weather known as seasons. In the mid-latitudes, winter weather often includes snow and sleet, while in both the mid-latitudes and most of the tropics, tropical cyclones form in the summer and autumn. Almost all weather phenomena can occur year-round on different parts of the planet, including snow, rain, lightning, and, more rarely, hail and tornadoes.

Related portals: Earth sciences (Atmosphere  · Atmospheric Sciences)  · Tropical cyclones Featured article  · Disasters  · Water

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Cloud-to-cloud lightning from a nighttime thunderstorm in Zwickau, Germany.

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The initial frontal wave (or low pressure area) forms at the location of the red dot on the image. It is usually perpendicular (at a right angle to) the leaf-like cloud formation (baroclinic leaf) seen on satellite during the early stage of cyclogenesis. The location of the axis of the upper level jet stream is in light blue.
Cyclogenesis is the development or strengthening of cyclonic circulation in the atmosphere (a low pressure area). Cyclogenesis is an umbrella term for several different processes, all of which result in the development of some sort of cyclone. It can occur at various scales, from the microscale to the synoptic scale. Extratropical cyclones form as waves along weather fronts before occluding later in their life cycle as cold core cyclones. Tropical cyclones form due to latent heat driven by significant thunderstorm activity, and are warm core. Mesocyclones form as warm core cyclones over land, and can lead to tornado formation. Waterspouts can also form from mesocyclones, but more often develop from environments of high instability and low vertical wind shear. Cyclogenesis is the opposite of cyclolysis, and has an anticyclonic (high pressure system) equivalent which deals with the formation of high pressure areasAnticyclogenesis.

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Did you know...

...that Hurricane Debbie is the only known tropical cyclone ever to strike Ireland?

...that the Tempest Prognosticator, one of the earliest attempts at a weather prediction device, employed live leeches in its operation?

...that eyewall replacement cycles are among the biggest challenges in forecasting tropical cyclone intensity?

...that the Braer Storm of January 1993 is the strongest extratropical cyclone ever recorded in the north Atlantic Ocean?

...that in medieval lore, Tempestarii are magicians with the power to control the weather?

...that the omega equation is essential to numerical weather prediction?

Recent and ongoing weather


This week in weather history...

April 17

1979: Flooding along the Pearl River in Jackson, Mississippi crested at 43.28 feet (13.19 m), exceeding the previous record by more than 5 feet (1.5 m).

April 18

Portal:Weather/On this day list/April 18/0

April 19

2000: Cyclone Rosita, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever to strike the Kimberley region of Western Australia, reached Category 5 intensity (Australian scale), making landfall just after midnight near Broome.

April 20

2004: A strong tornado, part of a surprise outbreak of 29 tornadoes, killed 9 people in Utica, Illinois.

April 21

1997: The 1997 Red River Flood peaked in Grand Forks, North Dakota, when the Red River crested at 54.35 feet (16.6 m). Dikes were only built to 49 feet or lower, so catastrophic flooding resulted.

April 22: Earth Day

2011: A nighttime tornado, caused major damage in parts of St. Louis, Missouri, including Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, but amazingly caused no deaths and few injuries.

April 23

1792: John Thomas Romney Robinson, inventor of the cup-anemometer, was born in Dublin, Ireland.

Selected biography

Clement Lindley Wragge (September 19, 1852 – December 10, 1922) was a meteorologist born in Stourbridge, Worcestershire, England. After training in law, Wragge became renowned in the field of meteorology, winning the Scottish Meteorological Society's Gold Medal. He set up an extensive network of weather stations around Australia, and was the first to give human names to cyclones. He traveled widely, and in his later years was a reliable authority on Australia, India and the Pacific Islands.

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Weather: Meteorology | Atmosphere | Basic meteorological concepts and phenomena | Climate | Clouds | Cyclones | Floods | Precipitation| Seasons | Severe weather and convection | Snow | Storms | Tornadoes | Tropical cyclones | Weather events | Weather lore | Weather hazards | Weather modification | Weather prediction | Weather warnings and advisories| Winds


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WikiProject Tropical cyclones is a daughter project of WikiProject meteorology. The dozens of semi-active members and several full-time members focus on improving Wikipdia's coverage of tropical cyclones.

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