Everybody's so up on the weather these days, and if you've been in an elevator lately, you notice it's on the mind of every stranger that has an urge to talk to you. With all this pressure, it's no wonder that you've been watching the meteorologists every night, sweating and straining to produce a five-day forecast when everyone knows forecasting methods aren't accurate beyond 12 hours. So who can you trust? You know you can't trust the weather guys, because they're in it for the money. Well, who does that leave? Hey, who wrote this post, anyway?
What's the first thing I need to know about the weather?
Nothing! Weather is summarized by light and water. Some days have more light than others, and some days have more water than others. What else could there be? Of course, there are definitely many degrees between those two. And we can easily depict it on a four-way matrix, if we thought for a minute you'd even look at it. Odds are, you don't even know what that is. But that's okay, because it doesn't matter.
Okay then, what's this el niño thing that's screwing up the weather all over North and South America?
Who knows. Apparently, somebody in Australia keeps goofing off with the weather (and we're pretty confident it's a guy named Tony who lives in Sydney), which causes a warm mass of air to move to our side of the Pacific Ocean. From there, all sorts of kookiness happens, like rains of snow, hail, ice, frogs, locusts, and bubbly things. The name was given to it by bug-eyed Chilean fisherman, because when a large, continent-sized chunk of humidity comes rolling at you, it's natural to associate that with a small boy. In their opinion, anyway.
How is the relative humidity index calculated?
It's calculated with some sort of scale. There's all kinds of crazy things associated with wet bulbs, or something, and frankly it sounds a little too silly to be science. But there it is.
How do clouds form?
Clouds form in all sorts of ways. Generally, warm air rises up, up, and still further up. You see, warm air rises, and cold air sinks. So the warm air keeps going upward until the cold air up high chills it. Just like when you exhale on a cold day, you can see your breath (and it's probably greenish in color, from what we've heard), so too does the warm air get foggy when it slams into the cold air. A lot of fog up high looks like a cloud. Actually, it is a cloud. And so, that's how clouds form. Ask a tougher one.
What are the different kinds of clouds?
See, that's a better question. There are a lot of clouds, and yes, we know what they are. There are cumulus clouds, which are puffy, fat guys like the ones who insist on wearing Speedos at the beach. There are stratus clouds, which are grey and flat and look like overcast skies. There are cirrus clouds, which are thin, wispy clouds, just like those guys who insist on combing their sideburns over the tops of their heads, thinking they've fooled everyone. Also, there are combinations, like the cirrocumulus, the stratocumulus, the cirrostratus on rye, the cumulocirrostratus triple decker, the pulled pork stratus, and the cirrodiplodocus with bacon, hash browns... we don't know what the heck we're talking about.
No kidding. So what other types of clouds are there?
All kinds. There's the fluffy white clouds (normally three) that are equally spaced in the skies of kids' drawings; the evil, invisible cloud that a roommate emits after drinking four beers just after eating a mixture of tamales and garlic dill pickles; there's the strange, internal cloud that occupies most of your brain until 10:30am; there's also the cloud that hovers around doorways of non-smoking office buildings.
Is there any truth to some of the many folk tales surrounding weather?
Well, without knowing which tales you're referring to, it's gonna be hard to say. However, there are some truths! It is true that cows lay down before it rains, and also that birds fly low before a storm. Both are related to low pressure systems moving into an area. It's true that a red sky at night heralds fair weather the next day, since it indicates no fronts are moving in. It's even true that a hurricane produces high winds and heavy rains. It's totally true that if you wash your car, it will rain within the hour. What isn't true? That you won't need that umbrella tomorrow.
What else do I need to know about the weather?
There's plenty to learn. You could start asking about snow, fogs, whether it's true that rain makes people melt, or even why it never hails inside your oven. My advice is that weather is easy to understand: you just have to study it in incredible detail for a very long time. Meanwhile, may your days be sunny. Except, that produces drought... hmm, maybe it's just best to let the weather do whatever it wants. For a change.
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