Strong winds blowing over loose soil or sand causes sandstorms. During a sandstorm, so much material is picked up by the winds that visibility is greatly reduced. Heating of the air over the desert causes instability in the lower atmosphere, making sandstorms more frequent.Continue Reading
A sandstorm can last from several hours to a full day. The sand moving within a sandstorm can clog nearly anything mechanical. Breathing is also a problem, and masks are a necessary precaution during a sandstorm. Most sandstorms affect only one to three miles, so air travel is usually not a problem.
There are two types of sandstorms. The first, called a "haboob," an Arabic word for blowing dust, results from strong winds of a severe thunderstorm. The second is caused by the curving of the jet stream which brings strong winds to the ground. Most Americans are familiar with this type, according to Texas A&M University Department of Atmospheric Sciences.
Some of the worst sandstorms form in China and Mongolia. The sand in the air is so dense it changes the color of the rain, creating the appearance of yellow rain falling from the sky. Sandstorms can grow large enough to be seen from space, and on Aug. 24, 2010, the NASA Aqua satellite captured an image of a widespread sandstorm that covered parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.Learn more about Storms
A cyclone is formed when a system of winds moving in circular motion closes in toward an area of the sea with low atmospheric pressure. The formation of cyclones occurs in four stages including formative, immature cyclone, mature cyclone and decay stage. Cyclones usually form in the eastern Pacific Ocean, southern Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. A cyclone is usually accompanied by thunderstorms.Full Answer >
According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, external winds can propel hurricanes across the ocean at sustained speeds of between 10 and 20 mph. Internally, hurricanes' wind speed is considerably higher.Full Answer >
Hurricanes classify as tropical or subtropical storms that form over open waters, have defined eyes, move in rotating motions and produce strong rain and winds. Hurricanes belong to the larger category of tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions and tropical storms, along with hurricanes. In the United States, hurricanes form in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, along with the Gulf of Mexico.Full Answer >
Strong warm updrafts carrying large amounts of moisture interacting with fast-moving cool, dry winds above cause tornadoes when the two air currents begin to swirl around each other and reorient toward the ground. The moist updraft is always of a type that forms large storm clouds as it ascends and the water vapor in it condenses.Full Answer >