Weather and climate are separate meteorological terms, with "weather" reflecting atmospheric conditions in one place during one specific time period, and "climate" reflecting the weather patterns in an area over a longer period of time. According to the dictionary, it defines weather as "the state of the atmosphere with respect to heat or cold, wetness or dryness, calm or storm, clearness or cloudiness." The dictionary defines climate as "the average course or condition of the weather at a place usually over a period of years as exhibited by temperature, wind velocity, and precipitation."
Forecasting short-term weather patterns has been made more accurate through the use of technology like Doppler radar and weather satellites. Climate historical data can be used to predict temperature and precipitation patterns decades or even centuries into the future, since climate patterns are based on long-term averages. The weather system includes the dynamics of the atmosphere and its interaction with the oceans and land. Weather includes those local or microphysical processes that occur in minutes through the global-scale phenomena that can be predicted with a degree of success at an estimated maximum of two weeks prior. Weather affects the lives of every human being, yet no one can control it. It can be dangerous, breathtaking, fun (building a snowman or ice skating), and is valuable for life. Weather is important in the planning of a picnic or for the life-threatening approach of a tornado. Weather is certainly fascinating, but it can behave strangely at times depending on varying atmospheric conditions and other factors. While weird facts about what comes from the sky have been recorded for centuries, there is a smattering of incidents that are almost too bizarre to believe.
Even though lightning usually strikes in long bolts, there have been multiple cases reported of it taking the form of balls. Ball lightning is an unexplained atmospheric electrical phenomenon. The term refers to reports of luminous, usually spherical objects which vary from pea-sized to several meters in diameter. It is usually associated with thunderstorms, but lasts considerably longer than the split-second flash of a lightning bolt. These fiery orbs can glow in multiple colors from white to red to blue. They often sizzle loud enough for the human ear to detect. Don't get too close if you see one – they carry the same voltage as regular lightning and can do a lot of damage.
The largest snowflake ever observed in the world supposedly appeared 125 years ago today in Fort Keogh, Montana. It was reportedly 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick. It is necessary to say that snowflakes are agglomerates of many snow crystals. Most snowflakes are less than one-half inch across. Under certain conditions, usually requiring near-freezing temperatures, light winds, and unstable, convective atmospheric conditions, much larger and irregular flakes close to two inches across in the longest dimension can form.
There is another strange snow occurrence that has taken place since the 1800s in several locales from Greenland to the Sierra Nevada Mountains: pink snow. Snow can appear streaked with pink, or mountainsides may have a light red hue. Scientists have determined the phenomenon is caused by red algae that live only in cold climates. Walking in pink snow often results in a temporary discoloration of your clothing, such as bright red soles and pinkish pant cuffs. There are unconfirmed reports that consuming "generous quantities" of pink snow may cause diarrhea, a rather distressing situation above timberline.
The world's tallest snowman, which is actually a snowwoman, is being unveiled in the western Maine town of Bethel in 2008. She is said to be about 122 feet tall. To get an idea of scale, Olympia is about 30 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty (without the base). Olympia's creators say she has eyelashes made from skis and bright red lips crafted from painted tires. She wears a giant pink hat and gets some bling from a snowflake pendant that's more than six feet in diameter. Her arms were created from pine trees. Her "carrot" nose, painted by schoolchildren, is 8 feet long. Her eyes are made from giant wreaths.
There have been occasions when frogs have fallen from the sky. Raining animals is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which flightless animals "rain" from the sky. Such occurrences have been reported in many countries throughout history. One hypothesis offered to explain this phenomenon is that strong winds traveling over water sometimes pick up creatures such as fish or frogs, and carry them for up to several miles. The English language idiom "it is raining cats and dogs", referring to a heavy downpour, is of uncertain etymology, and there is no evidence that it has any connection to the "raining animals" phenomenon.
Spain experienced a giant hailstorm in January of 2000 when giant ice chunks dropped from a seemingly cloudless sky. For 10 days, the country was accosted by hail that crushed car hoods and windshields, seriously injuring anyone who got in the way. More than 15 basketball-sized hailstones were discovered in the onslaught, the largest weighting in 2.25 pounds.
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