Climate & Weather

Atmospheric sciences help us understand and predict the weather. Learn about topics such as the seasons, why it snows, and how rainbows are formed.

Topics to Explore

Learn More / Page 3

How does the Farmers' Almanac predict weather?

It sure would be handy to know what the weather is going to be like for the next year. Unfortunately, there's just one problem: Weather is notoriously difficult to predict. So is the Farmers' Almanac accurate, or is it just blowing hot air?

Is humid air heavier than dry air?

If humid air is just air plus water, then it has to be heavier than dry air, right? Sure, if it was only a matter of simple addition, but molecular physics is a lot like a bouncer at a club: Nothing gets in unless something else goes out.

Is the cloud spiral phenomenon real?

Admit it: You'd be just a little freaked out if you looked up at the night sky and saw a weird glowing spiral stretching out before you. In 2009, many claimed to witness exactly such a phenomenon, but were they spinning yarns or telling the truth?

Should you hang up your landline during a thunderstorm?

If you're in a thunderstorm, then your top priority is safety. It might sound like a good idea to call your loved ones and let them know you're okay, but hold the phone a moment. See those lightning bolts outside? They've got other ideas.

Should you unplug your electronics during a thunderstorm?

It would be nice if our electronic devices doubled as handy, lightning-proof talismans to ward off danger during a thunderstorm. Sadly, that sounds more like sorcery than science. In the meantime, maybe you should just leave them off and unplugged.

What is the rarest weather phenomenon?

What is the strangest weather-related thing that could happen? Raining frogs? A triple rainbow? Or something else?

10 Myths About Rainbows

Did you know no two people see the same rainbow? Or that they contain 1 million colors — not just the handful we learn in school? Find out how to make your own rainbow — or, if you’d rather, how to make one disappear.

10 Myths About Lightning

There's a thunderstorm brewing with some serious lightning. Fortunately you're safe in your car because of its rubber wheels. Or are you? And let's not get started on your rubber-soled sneakers!

10 Ways Animals Supposedly Predict the Weather

Next time the cat starts sneezing, should you look for your umbrella or check her out for allergies? There are many superstitions out there about animals and weather prediction. Which ones hold water, and which ones are for the birds?

How Black Ice Works

Knowing how to react (or not react, as the case may be) when you drive across a patch of black ice is useful; but if you've ever wondered how black ice forms, and what makes it so dangerous, we're here to help.

10 Scientifically Sound Weather Superstitions

Ever hear that saying that a cow lies down when rain is coming? This superstition may not be as udderly ridiculous as you think.

10 Pieces of Disaster Safety Advice You Should Ignore

There are certain steps you should take to protect yourself, your family and your home during a disaster. These are not those steps.

Is every snowflake actually unique?

You've probably heard that no two snowflakes are alike, but can that be true? Find out how molecules of water vapor come together to form these winter wonders.

Why are hurricanes with female names deadlier than ones with male names?

The most damaging hurricanes usually have female names. Is this a case of gender bias, or is some other force at work?

Why does humidity make my hair frizz?

Nothing ruins a good hair day like humidity, especially if your hair is dry and overprocessed. What's the science behind the frizz?

What's a polar vortex?

During the unusually cold winter of 2014, the term "polar vortex" got quite a workout, causing many to wonder if it was a new weather phenomenon. Actually, the polar vortex is always with us – just usually with a lower profile. But will that change?

How do rescue teams search a flooded city?

When a hurricane or flash flood strikes a city, it can leave residents stranded in their cars, homes or other buildings waiting for rescue. How do rescue teams know where to go first?

10 Ways Technology Can Save People From Storms

A very strong storm doesn't automatically mean death or destruction. You can improve the odds of surviving intact with reinforcements to your home. Plus, scientists are improving their forecast methods. Let's look at high-tech and low-tech storm alerts.

What’s a nor’easter?

"Nor'easter" is one of those words that makes you think of an old mariner scanning the horizon for a pending storm. What does it really mean -- and why don't we say "northeaster"?

10 Worst Nor’easters of All Time

What makes a nor'easter different from your run-of-the-mill winter storm? And which ones have done the most damage?

10 Best Spots on Earth to Watch the Auroras

Auroras themselves aren't rare, but spotting one can be tricky: You need a clear, dark sky within one of the auroral zones. What are 10 spots that up the odds a bit?

Why are the auroras seasonal?

If you've ever spied a night sky splashed with vivid billows of color, either you have access to interesting drugs or you've seen an aurora firsthand. If it's the latter, your sky-gazing probably took place during spring or autumn. How come?

Why is winter not happening?

Many folks in the Northern Hemisphere are still waiting for their full-blown snowman invasion to hit. Is Frosty ever going to come this winter?

How Dust Storms Work

Though they're outranked by other, more dangerous natural phenomena, dust storms can still do serious damage to life and property. What causes these massive storms?

How Weather Balloons Work

Have you ever wondered how weather stations gather all of their data? Even though technology for predicting the weather has improved, simple weather balloons do a lot of the hard work every day.


Recommended