Weather--what it is, how it changes (updated 4/1/2014)

Extreme Weather
Sometimes, maybe many times, weather can be really scary.

What if we could make scary weather happen less often? It's an idea people would be very happy with. If we could do it. We can't, of course. Only in movies and books. In the real world, weather just happens. Many things go to into making weather:  the sun, the air, even the ocean. Forests being planted or cut can make weather change over time. So very many things go into weather.

You may have heard the words “extreme weather” on the news. What is extreme weather? Most of the time, it refers to tornadoes, floods, droughts, hurricanes, and maybe blizzards.  Floods, drought and blizzards have to be really big to qualify.  

What can people do about such weather? We can think things through and be ready. If we live where there are tornadoes, we can build a shelter or have a basement. We can remember NOT to look out the window for the tornado. If there are hurricanes, we can use shutters and build on stilts, which helps keep houses from getting so broken by the hurricane. Sometimes, nothing will prevent the damage. So people clean up the mess and start over. It's what people have always done. If things get really bad, we might move to a new place.

Drought and heatwaves are a bit harder to deal with. If we're careful how we use water, that helps.  We can use less water for things like lawns and swimming pools when the droughts start, leaving more for irrigation.  Air conditioning can help keep people comfortable in heat.  

Then there are blizzards. Kids often seem to like blizzards because they get a snow day! It's grown-ups that don't like driving and dealing with the snow shoveling and plowing.

Floods are another form of "extreme" weather.  This flooding is seasonal.  Floods often happen in the spring when snow melts.  They are very common and people can adapt to this kind of floods.  To qualify as an "extreme" flood, it has to cover a very large area with more water than seasonal floods.

Today, we have so much more for dealing with these weather extremes than people did in the old days. In the 1800s, wagon trains were not a good place to wait out a blizzard. There were no helicopters to rescue flood victims, no buses to get people away from hurricanes, and no radar for tornadoes.

Dealing with extreme weather is just a part of living on planet earth. We humans are a tough bunch.

What a difference 20 miles makes!

Today is April 1, 2014.  At my home in Wyoming, this is what the weather looked like in the afternoon:

As you can see, there is no snow on the ground and a light rain in falling.

We made a trip to town, about 20 miles from our house.  We decided it would be fun to check on a small local waterfall and see if spring runoff had made the falls loud and full.  Imagine our surprise when we found this:

There is a waterfall hiding in here!

There was a foot of heavy, wet snow and more snow lightly falling.  The south side of town had a lot of snow on the ground, far more than we have.   The falls are at the base of a mountain, which often has more snow than on the prairie, but the snow went far into town.  We would have worn snow boots if we knew there was that much snow!

No comments:

Post a Comment