Weather is a natural phenomenon that affects the environment around us. It varies from place to place and often changes within a few minutes. It’s caused by changes in the temperature, humidity, wind speed, and rainfall. Extreme weather conditions can be dangerous to humans and property. Severe weather can occur in cold regions and during storms in winter.
The United States has the highest frequency of extreme weather events. It experiences more than 26,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, and 1,300 tornadoes per year. The threat of extreme weather has become more important than ever, as many communities are growing in more remote areas. This makes it necessary for meteorologists to provide accurate weather forecasts in order to protect lives and property.
Fortunately, there are many tools available to help you forecast weather. Many weather stations are part of networks that allow meteorologists from different locations to exchange information and predict weather patterns. A popular example of a network is the Citizen Weather Observer Program, which relies on amateur meteorologists to record weather conditions and transmit the information to other scientists. Another example is the Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay, which uses commercial airplanes to transmit weather data.
Humidity is a measure of the amount of water vapor in the air. This gas helps produce clouds, rain, and snow. Relative humidity is the percentage of water vapor air can hold at a given temperature. Cool air holds less water than warm air. When air cools below this saturation point, it condenses as precipitation.
The rotation of high-pressure systems and low-pressure systems causes shifts in weather conditions. High-pressure systems bring cooler temperatures, while low-pressure systems bring warmer temperatures, storms, and rain. High-pressure systems help push weather systems around the globe while low-pressure systems help create storms and rain. As a result, weather maps have symbols to indicate the different types of weather systems. The spirals on the map represent cyclones, while thick lines indicate fronts.
Several developments in the 17th and 18th centuries improved weather forecasting. The invention of the barometer helped predict the movement of air between cold and warm air systems. Scientists learned to predict the effects of storm surges and floods with greater accuracy than ever before. In the 18th century, Sir Isaac Newton explained complex physics and used the barometer to measure air pressure.