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One of the first things you probably do every morning is look out the window to see what the weather is like.
In all of these cultures, weather forecasting became associated with religion and spirituality. Since then, meteorologists have depended on weather satellites for the most up-to-date and reliable information on weather patterns.
The eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano inspires the formation of a waterspout in this undated photo.Waterspouts can emerge the way traditional tornadoes do, but not always. A Lake Michigan lighthouse takes the brunt of a frigid winter in Saint Joseph, Michigan.The southeastern shores of all of the Great Lakes often experience lake-effect snow. A funnel cloud rips through a trailer park near Cheyenne, Wyoming, in this undated photo. Surfers ride a huge wave at Waimea Bay, Hawaii, during the 2009 Eddie Aikau memorial surf contest.To honor its fearless namesake, the competition is held only in extreme conditions.
Adding insult to injury, this dangerously large hail rode in on the coattails of a tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri, in 2011.Hail emerges from storm clouds only after repeatedly tumbling up and down within the cloud.
An Alabama store owner assesses the damage after Hurricane Frederic ravaged Dauphin Island, and his business, in 1979.The Category 3 storm made landfall on the evening of September 12 with winds recorded at 145 miles per hour and an up-to-15-foot storm surge. A tornado heads toward two cars on a country road near Campo, Colorado.Technically considered a part of thunderstorms, tornadoes can cover tens of miles of ground.
Rain brings a double rainbow to the town to Puerto Natales in southern Chile.Rainbows are a simple, ordered display of visible light reflected off of water droplets in the atmosphere. A vessel makes its way across Drake Passage in what some scientists call the Southern Ocean between South America and Antarctica.The passage, which takes shipping vessels around Cape Horn at the tip of Chile and Argentina, is one of the most dangerous in the world. The National Geographic Society aims to be an international leader for global conservation and environmental sustainability. This week on National Geographic Weekend, join host Boyd Matson and his guests as they set a speed record on El Capitan, prosecute poaching kingpins, share survival tips for extreme weather, dig up clues on ancient tsunamis to study for future risk, hold our breath to survive a surfing disaster, call the Malagasy military for an airlift, understand the evolution of New York’s rats, and mourn the Sherpa guides and porters lost on Everest. Hurricanes as large as planets may sweep across the face of brown dwarfs—failed stars bigger than planets but smaller than real stars. Looking back over a year’s worth of photos, the prairie weaves an ever-changing tale of drama, peace, microscopic detail, magnitude, and resilience. The United Nations agency charged with understanding weather and climate released new findings indicating the world experienced above average temperatures from 2001 to 2010. The Arctic regions are home to a variety of wildlife, including polar bears (Ursus maritimus). National Geographic VoicesResearchers, conservationists, and others around the world share stories and commentary on the National Geographic Society's conversation platform Voices. Society Field Inspection 2016: Gulf of CaliforniaDescribed by Jacques Cousteau as the "aquarium of the world," the Gulf of California in Mexico is threatened by coastal development, climate change, and other human activities. Support National GeographicWe've supported more than 11,000 grants to scientists and others in the field.Learn more about our work.
Two years after being discovered deep in a South African cave, the 1,500 fossils excavated during the Rising Star Expedition have been identified as belonging to a previously unknown early human relative that National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger and team have named Homo naledi. With at least 15 individuals of all ages and both sexes represented, the find adds an unprecedented amount of information to our understanding of early human evolution in Africa. In addition, the absence of any other animal remains or large debris in the fossil chamber strongly suggests that these non-human beings intentionally deposited their dead within this cave.
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Enter your email to receive email and other commercial electronic messages about the latest news, promotions, special offers and other information from Costco, regarding Costco, its affiliates and selected partners. Sign up to receive the latest news, promotions, special offers and other information from Costco, regarding Costco, its affiliates and selected partners. What is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?A FSA (Flexible Spending Account) allows use of the funds an individual has designated to be set aside pre-tax for medical expenses, typically with their employer, when selecting healthcare programs during the previous year. Note: Although the IRS sets guidelines for FSA programs, individual employers have the final determination of which expenses are covered by their FSA programs. Looking outside and listening to the day’s forecast helps you decide what clothes you will wear and maybe even what you will do throughout the day.
Some satellites have geostationary orbits, meaning they stay in the same spot and move at the speed the Earth rotates. Anticyclones spin clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Hurricanes are the same thing as typhoons, but usually located in the Atlantic Ocean region. The interaction of all of these elements creates an electrical charge that sparks lightning. Many are created when near-surface winds suddenly change direction under a cloud that is producing a growing updraft. The photographer snapped this shot from a quarter mile away before taking cover in his basement.These violent twisters form when the updrafts of air that supply storms with warm, humid air become a vortex, or high-speed whirlwind. When individuals pledge to use less water in their own lives, our partners carry out restoration work in the Colorado River Basin. A new study looks at 44 brown dwarfs using the infrared camera of NASA’s Spitzer space telescope. The seasons become less defined, and the decade I’ve spent helping build American Prairie Reserve blends in a single, long journey. That’s how diving instructor Mike Ryan described a lionfish sting as he briefed a boat full of people before an afternoon dive. In fact, the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest since modern meteorological measurement began in 1850. Posters and commenters are required to observe National Geographic's community rules and other terms of service.
To learn firsthand what's going on in and around this marine treasure of global importance, the National Geographic Society sent its top scientists and officials to the region in January 2016. If you don’t have school and the weather looks sunny, you might visit the zoo or go on a picnic.
After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed the city, city planners rebuilt it using a grid system. Click! Series which profiles interesting photographic moments that Kike captures during his travels.

We enjoyed an unusually moderate summer this year, with many days topping out in the high seventies or low eighties. They toured the desert islands off the southeastern coast of the Baja Peninsula and they listened to presentations by more than a dozen experts, including several whose Baja California research is funded by the Society. Before meteorologists were able to accurately predict weather, people noticed different characteristics associated with different weather patterns.
A rainy day might make you think about visiting a museum or staying home to read.The weather affects us in many ways. Rain gods and goddesses were particularly important, because rain influenced agriculture and construction projects. I remember one day we had a dust storm, a thunderstorm, and clear skies all in the same 8 to 5 day. The heated air creates a huge sound wave, which is thunder.To make your own thunder, you will need a paper lunch bag. Tlaloc (Aztec), Set (Egyptian), and Indra (India), as well as Thor (Norse), Zeus (Greek), and Shango (Yoruba), are only some gods associated with rain, thunder, and lightning.Developments in the 17th and 18th centuries made weather forecasting more accurate.
These satellites can trace weather patterns, such as hurricanes, over the entire part of the globe they orbit.Weather satellites can give more than just information about clouds and wind speeds. The day I took this shot did not have that strange of weather, but the clouds rolling in looked amazing. The Windy City is a result of natural and manmade winds.Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in the air. The 17th century saw the invention of the thermometer, which measures temperature, and the barometer, which measures air pressure. Satellites can see fires, volcanoes, city lights, dust storms, the effects of pollution, boundaries of ocean currents, and other environmental information.
We usually think of weather in terms of the state of the atmosphere in our own part of the world.
In the 18th century, Sir Isaac Newton was able to explain the complex physics of gravity, motion, and thermodynamics. But weather works like dropping a pebble in water—the ripples eventually affect water far away from where the pebble was dropped. Humidity is usually expressed as relative humidity, or the percentage of the maximum amount of water air can hold at a given temperature.
Scientists were able to predict the impact of high-pressure systems and low-pressure systems, as well as such weather events as storm surges, floods, and tornadoes.Since the late 1930s, one of the main tools for observing general conditions of the atmosphere has been the radiosonde balloon, which sends information needed for forecasting back to Earth. Weather satellites in orbit above Iceland tracked the ash cloud as it moved across western Europe. Weather in your region will eventually affect the weather hundreds or thousands of kilometers away. At a relative humidity of 100 percent, air is said to be saturated, meaning the air cannot hold any more water vapor. Twice each day, radiosondes are released into the atmosphere from about a thousand locations around the world.
Meteorologists were able to warn airlines about the toxic cloud, which darkened the sky and would have made flying dangerous. National Weather Service sends up radiosondes from more than 90 weather stations across the country.A weather station is simply a facility with tools and technology used to forecast the weather. This usually happens when warm, humid air cools as it rises.The most humid places on Earth are islands near the Equator. Different types of thermometers, barometers, and anemometers, which measure wind speed, are found at weather stations.
The average weather in a specific region, as well as its variations and extremes over many years, is called climate. Weather stations may also have computer equipment that allows meteorologists to create detailed maps of weather patterns, and technology that allows them to launch weather balloons. The warm air is continually saturated with water from the Indian Ocean.Clouds come in a variety of forms.
Satellite data have helped weather forecasts become more accurate, especially in the remote areas of the world that don’t have other ways to get information about the weather. These networks allow meteorologists from different regions and countries to share information on weather patterns and predictions.
In the United States, the Citizen Weather Observer Program depends on amateur meteorologists with homemade weather stations and internet connections to provide forecasts across the United States.The Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) also assists in gathering weather data directly from the atmosphere.
AMDAR uses commercial aircraft to transmit information about the atmosphere as the planes fly through it.Weather balloons and AMDAR instruments gather information about temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind from very high levels in the atmosphere. Meteorologists input the data to computers and use it to map atmospheric winds and jet streams. They often combine this with data about temperature, humidity, and wind recorded at ground level.
These complex weather maps using geographic information system (GIS) technology can calculate how weather systems are moving and predict how they might change.This type of forecasting is called synoptic forecasting.
With Doppler radar, meteorologists are able to forecast when and where severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are developing. It relies on the fact that in certain atmospheric conditions, particular weather conditions are usually produced. These movements are known as low-pressure systems and high-pressure systems.High-pressure systems are rotating masses of cool, dry air.
The high-pressure weather system of the Rocky Mountains drains the water vapor out of the air, resulting in rain. The United States uses the Fahrenheit system; in other parts of the world, Celsius is used.
Meteorologists know that heavy snow may result when that warm air mass heads toward Colorado. If an aircraft attempts to land or take off through a microburst, the suddenly changing wind conditions can cause the craft to lose lift and crash. Almost all scientists measure temperature using the Celsius scale.Temperature is a relative measurement. An afternoon at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, would seem cool after several days of 95 degrees Fahrenheit, but it would seem warm after temperatures around 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Transportation networks also rely on synoptic forecasting.If meteorologists knew more about how the atmosphere functions, they would be able to make more accurate forecasts from day to day or even from week to week.

The coldest weather usually happens near the poles, while the warmest weather usually happens near the Equator.Atmospheric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere overhead. They usually bring storms and high winds.High-pressure and low-pressure systems continually pass through the mid-latitudes, or areas of the Earth about halfway between the Equator and the poles, so weather there is constantly changing.
Making such forecasts, however, would require knowing the temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction, humidity, precipitation, and cloudiness at every point on the Earth.
The National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center created sophisticated GIS maps using radar, satellite, and balloon data.
It is impossible for meteorologists to know all this, but they do have some tools that help them accurately forecast weather for a day or two in advance. They were able to predict the site of the storm’s landing, and the strength of the storm over a period of days.
But because the atmosphere is constantly changing, detailed forecasts for more than a week or two will never be possible. A low-pressure system can bring warmer weather, storms, and rain.Meteorologists express atmospheric pressure in a unit of measurement called an atmosphere.
Cyclones have a spiral shape because they are composed of air that swirls in a circular pattern. Weather is just too unpredictable.Weather SatellitesA new era in weather forecasting began on April 1, 1960, when the first weather satellite, TIROS-1, went into orbit. TIROS-1, which stands for Television Infrared Observation Satellite, was launched by NASA from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Average atmospheric pressure at sea level is about one atmosphere (about 1,013 millibars, or 29.9 inches).
An air mass is a large volume of air that is mostly the same temperature and has mostly the same humidity.When a warm air mass moves into the place of a cold air mass, the boundary between them is called a warm front.
Many areas between New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi, were uninhabitable for weeks or months, and rebuilding efforts took years. A typical high-pressure system, or anticyclone, usually reaches 1,030 millibars (30.4 inches). On a weather map, a warm front is shown as a red band with half-circles pointing in the direction the air is moving. With images from TIROS-1, they could track hurricanes and other cyclones moving across the globe. More than a thousand people died.Making a Weather ForecastTo produce a weather forecast for a particular area, meteorologists use a computer-generated forecast as a guide.
When a cold air mass takes the place of a warm air mass, the boundary between them is called a cold front. On a weather map, a cold front is shown as a blue band with triangles pointing in the direction the air is moving. A stationary front develops when warm air and cold air meet and the boundary between the two does not move. On a weather map, a stationary front is shown as alternating red half-circles and blue triangles, pointing in opposite directions. Radar and satellite images showing precipitation and cloud cover are now common on television, online, and in the daily newspaper. The weather at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro is tropical, but the top of the mountain has ice and snow.Wind is the movement of air. In addition, you will probably see weather maps showing high- and low-pressure systems and fronts. Wind forms because of differences in temperature and atmospheric pressure between nearby regions. On a weather map, an occluded front is shown as a purple band with half-circles and triangles pointing in the direction the air is moving.
In addition to bars representing different fronts, weather maps usually show isotherms and isobars. Cold fronts are able to overtake warm fronts because they move faster.History of Weather ForecastingMeteorology is the science of forecasting weather. Isotherms are lines connecting areas of the same temperature, and isobars connect regions of the same atmospheric pressure. In the upper atmosphere, strong, fast winds called jet streams occur at altitudes of 8 to 15 kilometers (5 to 9 miles) above the Earth. Weather maps also include information about cloudiness, precipitation, and wind speed and direction.More Accurate ForecastsAlthough weather forecasts have become more reliable, there is still a need for greater accuracy. They usually blow from about 129 to 225 kilometers per hour (80 to 140 miles per hour), but they can reach more than 443 kilometers per hour (275 miles per hour). Agriculture relies on accurate weather forecasting: when to plant, when to irrigate, when to harvest. Better forecasts could save industries across the world many billions of dollars each year. Citrus fruits such as oranges are very vulnerable to frost—they die in cold, wet weather. With more accurate frost forecasts, citrus farmers could plant when they know the new, tender seedlings wouldn’t be killed by frost.
More accurate rain forecasts would enable farmers to plan timely irrigation schedules and avoid floods.Imperfect weather forecasts cause construction companies to lose both time and money. A construction foreman might call his crew in to work only to have it rain, when the crew can’t work.
Outdoor activities, such as concerts or sporting events, could be planned with greater accuracy. Sports teams and musicians would not have to reschedule, and fans would not be inconvenienced. They adjust their systems when they expect extreme temperatures, because people will use their furnaces and air conditioning more on these days. If the forecast predicts a hot, humid day and it turns out to be mild, the power company loses money. An ice cream store owner, for example, could save her advertising funds for some time in the future if she knew the coming weekend was going to be cool and rainy.Responding to such needs, meteorologists are working to develop new tools and new methods that will improve their ability to forecast the weather.

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