Weather & Tides

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Using the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale, a tornado can have wind speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. The EF scale categorizes tornadoes based on the extent of damage they cause and are not actual wind speed measurements.

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  • How often does a high or low tide occur?

    Q: How often does a high or low tide occur?

    A: Every 24 hours and 50 minutes, the Earth experiences two high tides and two low tides. High tides occur every 12 hours and 25 minutes. From high tide to low tide is a span of six hours and 12.5 minutes.
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  • What is the definition of a dry climate?

    Q: What is the definition of a dry climate?

    A: A dry climate is a region of the world where there is little precipitation and the air is very dry, according to Maps of the World. Dry climate is divided by climatologists into the subclassifications of dry arid and dry semiarid.
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  • How is weather created?

    Q: How is weather created?

    A: Weather patterns on Earth are driven by the unequal heating of the surface by sunlight. The Sun is the ultimate source of energy that drives wind, rain and storms across the planet. The movement of wind patterns, ocean currents and even the water cycle can all be thought of as global mechanisms for redistributing heat from the Sun.
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  • Why is it so hot near the equator?

    Q: Why is it so hot near the equator?

    A: Yung Chung-hoi of the Hong Kong Observatory explains that the sun is overhead at the equator and at a slant angle at the poles, which is why it is very hot near the equator. The other factors that influence the amount of sunshine received at different places on Earth are absorption and scattering of sunshine when passing through the atmosphere, and reflection by the surface of the Earth.
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  • How long do tides last?

    Q: How long do tides last?

    A: The basic lunar cycle of a body of water consists of two high tides and two low tides, which occur every 24 hours and 50 minutes. The basic cycle of solar tides is 24 hours.
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  • How does hail form?

    Q: How does hail form?

    A: Hail forms as a result of water droplets being carried above the freezing level by updrafts from thunderstorms. If a hailstone falls toward warmer air at the bottom of a thunderstorm, it thaws. However, if it is caught in another updraft, it collects additional layers of ice, growing larger before falling to the ground as hail.
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  • How does humidity affect air pressure?

    Q: How does humidity affect air pressure?

    A: Humidity lowers air pressure by displacing nitrogen and oxygen molecules with lighter water molecules. Differences in humidity can cause storms to form. Humid air also presents challenges to pilots.
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  • What is the difference between sunrise and dawn?

    Q: What is the difference between sunrise and dawn?

    A: Dawn, also known as daybreak, is the time of morning when the first light appears in the sky prior to sunrise, which is the appearance of the top of the sun over the horizon. Dawn occurs roughly 30 minutes before sunrise at sea level.
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  • Why do my windows steam up in my house?

    Q: Why do my windows steam up in my house?

    A: The reason your windows become steamed up or foggy is that water droplets condense out of the air onto the glass. The moisture in the air is not attracted to the glass specifically; rather, the moisture condenses on the coolest surfaces in the area. The windows are usually the coldest surface in a residential home or office building.
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  • Why does it get colder just before sunrise?

    Q: Why does it get colder just before sunrise?

    A: It is coldest just about the time of sunrise because this is the hour at which the atmosphere has been without the heat of the sun for the longest time. The lowest temperature of the day usually occurs then.
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  • What is low tide?

    Q: What is low tide?

    A: Low tide is when the ocean waters reach their maximum ebb in a location. Low tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and occur every 12 hours, 26 minutes.
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  • What defines a tsunami?

    Q: What defines a tsunami?

    A: A tsunami is a series of large waves that move rapidly across the water. Tsunamis are caused by landslides, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. These waves can move across the open ocean at speeds of up to 500 miles an hour.
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  • Where do tidal waves occur?

    Q: Where do tidal waves occur?

    A: Tidal waves start out in the deep ocean and push toward the coastline, sculpting many coastal habitats. They are the largest waves on the planet.
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  • How is a rainbow formed?

    Q: How is a rainbow formed?

    A: Rainbows form when sunlight enters water droplets from behind the viewer. The geometry of the water droplets allows for refraction and reflection. Sunlight, which is composed of light of different wavelengths, splits into the constituting wavelengths because of refraction when it enters the water droplet, and it is then reflected from the inner surface of the droplet to the viewer. The ray undergoes refraction again when it exits the droplet.
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  • What time of day is the sun the strongest?

    Q: What time of day is the sun the strongest?

    A: The sun's rays are strongest daily between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., according to Sun Safety Alliance. Experts suggest seeking shade, wearing protection or avoiding the sun altogether during these hours.
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  • What is the climate like in the world's coldest deserts?

    Q: What is the climate like in the world's coldest deserts?

    A: The average winter temperature in a cold desert is usually between -20 and -30 degrees Fahrenheit. The average rainfall for these areas is only between 6 and 10 inches per year. Tundra also experiences brutally cold wind.
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  • What causes frost to form inside home windows?

    Q: What causes frost to form inside home windows?

    A: Condensation and frost on the inside of windows occur when warm, humid air inside comes in contact with a pane of glass chilled by the outside air, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. This reduces the temperature of the air in contact with the glass, forcing condensation of moisture. If the outside temperature is cold enough, this moisture can freeze on the glass and create interior frost.
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  • What factors affect climate?

    Q: What factors affect climate?

    A: The factors that affect climate include elevation, latitude, wind, water currents and proximity to the ocean. Climate is not the same as weather. Climate is a long-term state, while weather changes constantly.
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  • What units does a hygrometer measure in?

    Q: What units does a hygrometer measure in?

    A: Hygrometers measure the amount of moisture or humidity in the air, but there are a number of different types of hygrometers, and they display their results in different ways. Most hygrometers display their readings in the amount of water in a given volume of air, making the units milliliters per cubic centimeter. Alternatively, some hygrometers measure relative humidity, which is expressed as a percentage with no units.
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  • When is the next red moon?

    Q: When is the next red moon?

    A: As of September 2014, there are three more blood moons expected to occur within the next two years. They are predicted to occur on Oct. 8, 2014, April 4, 2015, and Sept. 28, 2015.
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  • What factors affect the temperature?

    Q: What factors affect the temperature?

    A: The factors that affect the temperature in an area are the latitude, height above sea level, distance from the sea, ocean currents and prevailing winds. These things work together to determine the climate of a location.
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