Weather Wiz Kids® Winter 2017 Newsletter

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Fall 2016 in Review

An unusual late-season outbreak of 24 tornadoes impacted Indiana, Ohio, and Ontario on the afternoon and evening of August 24, some of which were strong and damaging. This outbreak was largely unexpected, as the Storm Prediction Center only issued a slight risk that day, with the tornado threat limited to a 2% threat area across parts of Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. Despite this, numerous tornadoes touched down further to the east across parts of the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. One of the most notable touchdowns was an EF3 tornado struck the southern part of Kokomo, Indiana, damaging or destroying 1,000 homes, several apartment buildings, and a Starbucks, as well as downing many trees and power lines.

The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active and costliest season since 2012 as well as the deadliest since 2005. This was an above average season that produced a total of fifteen named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The season officially started on June 1 and ended on November 30. The season began nearly five months before the official start, with the first storm, Hurricane Alex forming in the Northeastern Atlantic in mid-January, the first Atlantic January hurricane since Hurricane Alice in 1955. The final storm, Otto, crossed into the Eastern Pacific on November 25.

The strongest, costliest and deadliest storm of the season was Hurricane Matthew, the southernmost Category 5 Atlantic hurricane on record, and the first Category 5 hurricane to form in the Atlantic since Felix in 2007. With up to 1,659 deaths attributed to it, Hurricane Matthew was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Stan in 2005.

In August 2016, prolonged rainfall in southern parts of the Louisiana resulted in catastrophic  flooding that submerged thousands of houses and businesses. Louisiana's governor called the disaster a "historic, unprecedented flooding event" and declared a state of emergency. Many rivers and waterways, particularly the Amite and Comite rivers, reached record levels, and rainfall exceeded 20 inches (510 mm) in multiple parishes.The flood has been called the worst US natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The 2016 Great Smoky Mountains wildfires are a complex of wildfires which began in late November 2016. Some of the towns most impacted were Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, both near Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The fires have claimed at least 14 lives, injured 134, and are one the largest natural disasters in the history of Tennessee

As of December 12, the fires had burned more than 10,000 acres (15 square miles) inside the national park, and 6,000 acres in other parts of the area. At least 14,000 area residents and tourists were forced to evacuate, while over 2000 buildings were damaged and/or destroyed.

Winter Precip Outlook
The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting below normal precipitation across parts of the Southwest, South, and Southeast with above normal precipitation across the Pacifc Northwest, Northern Plains, and Midwest.

Winter Temp Outlook
The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting below normal temperatures across parts of the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest with above normal temperatures across the Southwest, South, Southeast, and Northeast.

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Know the Lingo: Here are a few winter weather definitions.

How is snow formed?
Snow is commonly formed when water vapor undergoes deposition, which is when water vapor changes directly to ice without first becoming a liquid, high in the atmosphere at a temperature of less than 32°F and then falls to the ground.

What are snowflakes?
Snowflakes are made of ice crystals. Each snowflake is six-sided and made of as many as 200 ice crystals. Snowflakes form in clouds where the temperature is below freezing. The ice crystals form around tiny bits of dirt that has been carried up into the atmosphere by the wind. As the snow crystals grow, they become heavier and fall toward the ground.

How do blizzards form?
A blizzard is a long-lasting snowstorm with very strong winds and intense snowfall. You need three things to have a blizzard; cold air at the surface, lots of moisture, and lift. Warm air must rise over cold air.

Why is snow white?
Bright snow blinds us with its gleaming white color because it reflects beams of white light. Instead of absorbing light, snow’s complex structure prevents the light from shining through its lattice formation. A beam of white sunlight entering a snow bank is so quickly scattered by a zillion ice crystals and air pockets that most of the light comes bouncing right back out of the snow bank. What little sunlight is absorbed by snow is absorbed equally over the wavelengths of visible light thus giving snow its white appearance. So while many natural objects get their blue, red, and yellow colors from absorbing light, snow is stuck with its white color because it reflects light.

Why can you see your breath when it's cold outside?
Your breath is reasonably warm and humid and it has invisible water vapor as a large component of the gas. Warm moist air meeting the cooler air outside the body causes the invisible water vapor to condense the cooler air outside are visible and form the cloud that you see. The relative humidity which depends upon water content and temperature goes to 100%. As the breath gets further from the person’s face the water content dilutes and the relative humidity goes down and the droplets go back into vapor form.

Weather Jokes:

What's the difference between weather and climate?
You can't weather a tree, but you can climate!

What happens when it rains cats and dogs?
You have to be careful not to step in a poodle!

What does a cloud wear under his raincoat?

What type of lightning likes to play sports?
Ball Lightning!

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