Storms and Extreme Weather:

What to know when weather strikes hardest

Cyclones: Your Basic Storm

A cyclone is an area of low pressure. Cyclones can cover as much as half of the United States. Cyclone winds can spiral in counterclockwise directions in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Intense cyclones are known as tornadoes.

El Niño: The Reverse, otherwise known as The Cloud?

During an El Niño year, ocean temperature patterns will change and trade winds will weaken. Western Pacific water becomes colder, while Eastern Pacific water becomes warmer. The west becomes cold and dry, while the east becomes warm and wet.

Hurricanes: Storms of Death

Hurricanes are powerful spiraling storms that form over the West Indies or the Eastern Pacific. There is one requirement that a hurricane has to undergo, and that is the wind speed. Any storms with wind over 74 miles per hour is considered a hurricane. Hurricanes develop over areas of low pressure. After that, a tropical storm forms and if the winds blow hard enough, hurricanes form. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone.

Tornadoes: Whirlwinds of Doom

Tornadoes are extremely powerful whirling storms. Also known as a a very intense cyclone, tornado winds are the most violent winds ever known to exist on Earth. Tornadoes are formed from a funnel cloud that reaches from a dark mass of clouds. In some places, tornadoes are called twisters. Most of them last less than an hour. Tornadoes travel at about an average of 20 miles at a speed ranging from 10-25 miles per hour. Some of them last several hours. These do a lot of damage, traveling at a rate of 200 miles at 60 miles per hour. The majority of tornadoes form when cold Arctic air and warm Southern air meet up, which is no surprise that the area around Texas and Oklahoma is known as Tornado Alley.

Thunder and Lightning: At the Speed of Light

Lightning is very intimidating to some people. But Greeks once thought lightning was sacred. They thought Zeus, the king of gods and the god of the sky, flung thunderbolts at the ground out of the dark, stormy skies. Lightning is created when ice particles in the clouds grind, forming an electric charge. An opposite charge builds up on the ground below the cloud. Streamers fall from the clouds, and when they meet, you have a lightning. Thunderbolts travel at about 60 miles PER SECOND and are brighter than ten million 100 watt bulbs. The bolt itself doesn't last too long, but one strike can power a light bulb for a month. Its path can reach up to 50,000°. Thunder, on the other hand, is caused after a bolt touches down. It is almost like a sonic boom (O_o) , created by the thunderbolt slicing through the air.


Typhoons are violent storms that always form over the West Pacific. Typhoons are often confused with hurricanes. Typhoons begin over the Equator and move westward growing in violence and size. Typhoons are often accompanied by storm surges, a monster wave caused by storms. The winds at the center of the typhoon can reach 150 miles per hour. A typhoon can be up to 300 miles wide.

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