Weather

Weird Weather Words

Filed Under: Weather
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Is a derecho a trendy Spanish dance? Does a hair hygrometer measure a bad hair day? Are anvil zits ruptures on a meteorologist’s face? And is a Texas hooker what we think it is?

Don’t worry, we’re just as confused by some weather terms as you are. Luckily, our partners at WeatherTrends360, the gurus of all things weather, defined some of the more unusual weather terms for us.

So you’ll know what to expect when a bombogenesis is in the weekend forecast (and, no, it’s definitely not a party).

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Derecho: By now, most of us have heard of the derecho thanks to the storm that flew across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic in late June 2012. The definition of a derecho is a widespread, long-lived windstorm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Derechos may be mistaken for tornadoes, as the damage caused by both can be similar in nature. However, derechos typically produce damage that is oriented in one direction along a relatively straight swath. In fact, the word derecho in Spanish can be defined as “direct” or “straight ahead.”

Chinook wind: A warm, dry wind blowing down the eastern slopes of the Rockies. This wind is responsible for the most dramatic temperature rise on record -- a 49-degree temperature rise that occurred -- in just 2 minutes -- in Spearfish, SD, in September 1943. Chinook translates as “snow eater,” and the wind often forms after a very intense cold spell.

Haboob: A dust or sandstorm caused by the downdraft of a desert thunderstorm.

Glory: Next time you’re on a plane or a mountaintop, see if you can spot a glory -- an optical phenomenon that resembles a rainbow halo around an object’s shadow when it’s directly between the sun and a cloud.

Graupel: Ice pellets, generally 2 to 5 millimeters in diameter. Graupel are oftentimes mistaken for hail, but a simple way to tell the difference is to touch a grapuel ball. Graupel will typically fall apart when touched or when they hit the ground, whereas hail is very hard as a result of being formed when layers of ice accumulate, and is associated with thunderstorms.

Hair hygrometer: An instrument that uses strands of human or horse hair to monitor relative humidity. The instrument measures changes in the length of hair that accompany humidity variations.

Outgassing: Release of gases into the atmosphere from hot, molten rock during volcanic activity; thought to be the origin of most atmospheric gases.

Sundog: A pair of brightly colored spots, one on either side of the sun. Indian summer: An unseasonably warm, dry period in autumn that typically occurs after a killing frost.

Hoarfrost:
Frozen dew that might be so thick at times that it looks like snow. This frozen dew forms a white coating on vegetation and other objects on clear cold nights.

Barber pole: A slang term used by storm spotters to describe a thunderstorm updraft with a striking visual appearance: cloud striations that are curved similar to the stripes of a barber pole.

Texas/Pandhandle hooker: No, it’s not what you think. It’s actually an infrequent storm system that originates in the Panhandle region of Texas and Oklahoma, initially moves east and then “hooks” or re-curves more northeast toward the upper Midwest or Great Lakes region.

Anti-wind: The upper or return branch of a valley wind system that blows in the opposite direction from the winds in the lower altitudes.

Anvil zits: A slang term for frequent, localized lightning discharges that occur within a thunderstorm anvil (the flat spreading top of a thunderstorm).

Bombogenesis: A mid-latitude cyclone that drops in surface pressure by 24 or more millibars (the units of pressure that meteorologists use) in a 24-hour period. Typically, bombogenesis occurs during the cool season, from October to March.

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