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Geography 101, week 11 notes

by: Elle Notetaker

Geography 101, week 11 notes GY 101

Marketplace > University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa > Geography > GY 101 > Geography 101 week 11 notes
Elle Notetaker

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These notes cover lightning, thunderstorms, and tornadoes.
Atmospheric Processes & Patterns
Eben Broadbent
Class Notes
lightning, tornadoes, thunderstorms
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Elle Notetaker on Sunday April 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to GY 101 at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa taught by Eben Broadbent in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 29 views. For similar materials see Atmospheric Processes & Patterns in Geography at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa.

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Date Created: 04/17/16
4/11 notes taken by Elle Gossman Drylines are similar to fronts, only while fronts are air masses with different  temperatures, drylines are air masses with different humidities (but similar temperatures). The  strong humidity gradients allow them to serve as fronts, and thunderstorms tend to form near  drylines. Drylines often form in the Great Plains.  Occluded fronts are fronts where two fronts run into each other, and occluded fronts  usually move sideways.  Cloud­to­cloud lightning is when there’s an electrical discharge within and between  clouds. The electrical gradient has to be big enough that the air’s natural resistance can’t keep  up. Because cloud­cloud is often obscured by the clouds, it’s sometimes called sheet lightning.  Cloud­cloud lightning is about 80% of the lightning that goes on. Cloud­to­ground lightning is the other 20% of lightning is when the electrical discharge  goes between the cloud and the ground. Process of Lightning Formation 1. Ice crystals help build up a charge in clouds. They influence charge separation, allowing the  charges to build up, in clouds that extend above the freezing level, and only in precipitating  clouds. For more information, go to pg 308 in the textbook. 2. There’s an electrical discharge between areas with different charges 3. A shaft of negatively charged air called a stepped ladder rapidly advances to the ground. As  the leader approaches the ground, there’s a spark, and an electron flow lights up the sky when  the leader and the spark connect. There can be more than one stroke if the 1st doesn’t  neutralize the negatively charged air. 3a. 80% of the lightning is cloud­cloud 3b. The other 20% of lightning hits the ground and is cloud­ground. 4. Electrons finally overcome air’s electrical resistance and go so fast they get close to the  speed of light. 5. The electrons are going so fast they run into atoms and knock loose more electrons 6. Because there are now so many electrons in a small area, they freak out and let loose a ton  of energy, making lightning that we can see. For lightning to happen, there needs to be separation of positive and negative charges,  which hang out in different areas of the clouds. Positive charges typically chill at the top of the  cloud, while negative charges hang around at the bottom. The electrons, moving at such high speeds, radiate light as lightning. As the electrons  get close to the speed of light, they run into other atoms and knock loose more electrons,  resulting in runaway electrons. When the energy is released, it’s a runaway breakdown. This is  all called a runaway discharge. For more information on this, visit textbook page 309.­2iuGU Ball lightning is less common than strokes, and refers to the type of lightning that looks like a  round, glowing mass of electrified air. St. Elmo’s Fire is when the air’s ionization makes tall things glow and emit sparks at the top Sprites are when electrical bursts rise from the cloud top as lightning goes on under the cloud. Blue Jets are ejections of electrons that shoot upward from the tops of the most active regions  of thunderclouds.  Thunder: During lightning strokes, the air heats up ridiculously fast, and then expands  explosively. The lag between lightning and thunder is because (as we all know [hopefully]) light  travels faster than sound. When lightning doesn’t seem to have thunder with it, we call it heat  lightning, even though that isn’t terribly accurate and that term is misleading. The sound of  thunder takes about 5s to travel a mile. About 70 people in the US are killed each year by lightning. Don’t be one of them. If  there’s lightning, stay inside and don’t chill by the windows or bathtub. Don’t hang out under a  tree, gazebo, or anything else that might even potentially function as a lightning rod. And under  no circumstances should you simply lay down on the ground or stand up on a hilltop insulting  every god that may or may not exist, yelling “HIT ME IF YOU DARE, LIGHTNING/GOD/  GODS!” That’s just asking for it. Thunderstorms come in air mass, mult­icell, and supercell versions.  Air mass thunderstorms have several updrafts, each following a series of stages.  1. Cumulus stage­ uplift begins and clouds form 2. Mature stage­ precipitation starts to fall 3. Dissipative stage­ precipitation diminishes and the sky starts to clear Air mass thunderstorms are relatively small, localized, and short lived. They don’t make strong  winds, big hail, or tornados. Most lightning stuff goes down around these. Air mass t­storms are  the most common of the thunderstorms, and make the least damage.­XWu0 Supercell thunderstorms rotate, and are the most destructive of the thunderstorm types. For today’s image, my boyfriend suggested Harry Potter. I chose this. BP­ Stationary front 4/13 notes taken by Elle Gossman Remember from last class, Air mass thunderstorms are the little ones that make a lot of  noise. They’re kind of like weather chihuahuas: small, common, and noisy. Thunderstorms: Air mass, Multicell, Supercell Sometimes, there can be a bunch of air masses hanging out that develop into clusters  called multicell thunderstorms. They’re all thunderstorms, but they’re still different air masses.  When you’ve got an organized group of thunderstorms, that’s a Mesoscale Convective System  (MCS)­ there are two types of MCSs: 1) Mesoscale Convective Complexes (MCC): these are round clusters of tstorms,  and help make more thunderstorms as their downdraft spreads out and converges with  the warmer air around the thunderstorms, making an outflow boundary. 2) Squall lines (SL): These are, as the name implies, a bunch of thunderstorms in a  line. They can be in a couple of lines, traveling as a block, or they can be just a big line. These storm cell clusters form either from a single place or because some of the cells decided  to make more. (Kind of like cells, no? Maybe thunderstorms are alive! That’d be either awesome or terrifying.) This video explains outflow boundaries: Outflow Boundaries: The first line of thunderstorms pushes out, and that makes more thunderstorms. A squall lines usually form in the warm sections of a midlatitude cyclone, and warm air lifts ahead,  making the cloud line. Supercells:  Unlike multicells, supercells are one gigantic, powerful cell. These are the really  destructive thunderstorms where trees fall and people die, only have one updraft zone, and  they’re dangerous because they spin. Severe thunderstorms have winds over 59mph,  hailstones that are bigger than 1in. In diameter, and/or spawn tornadoes.  When making a severe storm, essential ingredients include: wind shear, high water  vapor, uplift, and instability. Supercells may be smaller than squall lines or MCCs, but they’re  way more violent, and have a lot of potential for making really big tornadoes. Last but not least,  radar can show a supercell called a hook, or a hook echo. Downbursts, derechos, microbursts, and haboobs Downbursts are potentially deadly gusts of wind that can get over 165mph. Strong  downbursts associated with MCCS can result in large scale horizontal winds called derechos.  Really strong horizontal winds over desert areas can make sand storms called haboobs. Each year, there are approximately 14.5 million thunderstorms around the world. Tornadoes Tornadoes are zones of very fast, rotating winds underneath a cumulonimbus cloud.  They usually only last a few minutes, but they typically travel North East at the speed of a car  while they last. Wind speeds range from 65mph in the weakest tornadoes to over 280mph in the strongest. Tornadoes come in all shapes and sizes, and develop in frontal boundaries, squall  lines, MCCs, supercells, and tropical cyclones.  We don’t really understand how tornadoes form, but the most intense and destructive  ones usually come from Supercells. You can get a bit more information on tornado formation in  the textbook, at page 329. Here’s a thing for you to go check out. _HS_GG_Ins.html The US is a global hotspot for tornadoes, and the most tornado fatalities happen in  Alabama. The U.S. Storm Prediction Center resides in Norman, Oklahoma­ they send out  severe storm and tornado watches to the entire country. If a severe thunderstorm has already  developed, they’ll also send out convective outlook maps (they show the probability of severe  weather) for that day and the two after. A Tornado Outbreak is when one weather system makes at least 6 tornadoes. A  Waterspout is a tornado that happens over a warm body of water instead of over land.­proper­anatomy Also, since we only have one class left..­there­0


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