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Different Types of Storms

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Whenever we hear the word ‘storm’, it makes us shake in fear. It’s true, storms are a natural harbinger of death and destruction. Since ancient times, people have chanted prayers, participated in rituals, built shelters, but none have succeeded against Mother Nature’s wrath. While it’s not possible to wish it away, prior knowledge can at least help take appropriate precautionary measures. Here are some of the storms you should know about!

Ice storms

When you think of winter storms, you likely think of waking up in the morning to inches, even feet of snow! While snowstorms may be the more recognizable type of winter storm, there’s another type that can cause as much, or even more, damage and disruption: ice storms. Ice storms are caused by freezing rain. The raindrops move into a thin layer of below-freezing air right near the surface of the earth, allowing them to freeze on contact to the ground, trees, cars and other objects. Ice storms usually occur when the air temperature is at or just above freezing (32-38 degrees).

Ice storms have significant impact on road conditions, making travel dangerous, but they can also damage your home. Ice accumulation increases the weight of tree branches and power lines, increasing the likelihood of trees falling onto your property or on your house and increasing the chances of losing electric service to your home. Roofs may also sustain significant damage during an ice storm. Ice accumulation may cause roofs to collapse or may create cracks in the roofing materials. It usually occurs during the months of December and January.

Ice storms
Source: Pinterest

Hailstorm

Hail is a form of precipitation — like rain or snow — that is made up of solid ice. Updrafts in the wind keep the frozen rain suspended, until it becomes too heavy to handle, and hits the ground in the form of hailstones. They are irregularly shaped, ranging from oblong to spherical. Larger hailstones have onion layers ranging from clear to opaque ice. Severe warnings are issued when the hailstones reach an alarming size. Weather radars are capable of detecting oncoming hailstorms and issuing appropriate warnings.

Hailstorms have a destructive scale ranging from H0 to H10. H0 – H4 represents hard to severe hail which can shatter windows. H9 represents a super hailstorm which can cause extensive structural damage, and cause a major shutdown. To survive a hailstorm, find shelter, whether in a house or a car. Preferably stay indoors.

Hailstorm
Source: Houston Chronicle

Snowstorm

Snowstorms, as you can guess, are caused by heavy snowfall. Although not as dangerous as ice storms, they have secondary dangers in the form of avalanches. These storms lead to a dramatic drop in temperature, leading to hypothermia. To avoid hypothermia if caught outdoors during a blizzard, stay hydrated and nourished. Keep blood flowing by moving around. Also build a snow cave to block winds, which reduce your body temperature. And don’t eat snow, it will make you colder!

A blizzard is a severe snow storm with winds in excess of 35 mph and visibility of less than a 1/4 mile for more than 3 hours. Blizzards can also occur after snowfall when high winds cause whiteouts (fallen snow blowing around) and snowdrifts (huge mountains of snow), which decrease visibility.

Snowstorm
Source: Red Deer Express

Wind Storm

Windstorm, a wind that is strong enough to cause at least light damage to trees and buildings and may or may not be accompanied by precipitation. Wind speeds during a windstorm typically exceed 55 km per hour. Wind damage can be attributed to gusts (short bursts of high-speed winds) or longer periods of stronger sustained winds. It may last for just a few minutes when caused by downbursts from thunderstorns, or they may last for hours (and even several days) when they result from large-scale weather systems.

A dust storm is a severe windstorm forming in arid regions, while a sandstorm usually occurs in the desert when dust particles are blown long distances. In case of a wind storm, take refuge in a basement, and stay away from windows and doors. Evacuate mobile homes in a timely manner, because the wind could sweep it away easily. Wear protective goggles and cover your face. Cover up your computers and furniture to protect them from the dust.

Wind Storm
Source: Pinterest

Cyclone

The term ‘cyclone’ actually refers to several different types of storms. They occur in different places, and some occur over land while others occur over water. What they all have in common is that they are spinning storms rotating around that low-pressure center.

Location, location, location! This is especially important when we’re talking about ocean storms because the location of the storm determines what we call it. For example, if the storm occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific, it’s called a hurricane. If the exact same type of storm occurs in the Northwest Pacific, this is a typhoon. And if we find those same storms in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, these are called tropical cyclones. An extratropical storm is formed when warm and cold air clash, and secondly, when a hurricane leaves the tropics and transitions to an extratropical storm, thereby losing its spinning action, and evolving to become a bigger storm. Polar cyclones are cyclones that occur in polar regions like Greenland, Siberia and Antarctica. Unlike tropical cyclones, polar cyclones are usually stronger in winter months. A mesocyclone is when part of a thunderstorm cloud starts to spin, which may eventually lead to a tornado. ‘Meso’ means ‘middle’, so you can think of this as the mid-point between one type of storm and the other.

Cyclone
Source: Daily Express

Tornado

A tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground. Because wind is invisible, it is hard to see a tornado unless it forms a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, dust and debris. They usually move from southwest to northeast. But it’s unpredictable, and can usually change its path at the last minute. It has 5 stages: advisory, alert, watch, warning, and tornado. It can be among the most violent phenomena of all atmospheric storms we experience.

Tornado
Source: CNet

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