AccuWeather School Fall Semester: Weeks 2-3
🏊🏽 Sept. 18 - Swim class: Sea oats aren’t for your breakfast cereal!
When you visit the ocean, you may recognize the following sign urging you to stay off the sand dunes.
Photo by AccuWeather Meteorologist Danielle Knittle.
Sand dunes look like perfect spots to climb on top and roll down or to build a sand castle – but why are you told to stay off of them? Plus, what are sea oats? They aren’t something that farmers grow at the beach for you to eat at breakfast. Let’s find out more below:
As the video says above, sand dunes are a wall of protection for homes and businesses along the beach when a storm or even the moon causes the ocean to be pushed higher up onto the beach than normal.
That’s right, if you want to know when the highest tides of the month will be, find out when the moon will be in a new or full phase. Now let’s add a strong storm to the mix – that storm’s winds can drive the ocean farther up to the dunes. Sadly, the dunes may not stand a chance against the storm surge flooding from a powerful hurricane.
🏕️ Sept. 18 - Field Trip Day: What would the beach look like without humans?
Let’s put on our imagination caps and go back a few hundred years ago when there weren’t homes, resorts and businesses that lined the beach – what would a stroll along the ocean look like?
Myrtle Beach State Park in South Carolina gives us that glimpse into the past as this park is in a more natural state – meaning, the park has let nature take over across a mile stretch of the beach. If you can’t make the trip to South Carolina (we understand, school is back in session!), enjoy this virtual field trip – complete with a bird and frog that wanted to say hi to everyone!
📚 Sept. 14 - Study Hall: Multiple generations of monarch butterflies born in one year!
When you see a monarch butterfly fluttering past you, be sure to say goodbye as you will likely never see that butterfly again.
Monarch butterflies will head to their winter homes in one journey – a flight that is 3,000 miles for some monarchs that live east of the Rocky Mountains. These monarchs head to the mountains of central Mexico. West of the Rockies, some monarchs also fly to the coast of California.
The butterflies that reach Mexico will never return to the northern United States and southern Canada. They travel only a short trip back to the north and lay eggs in the spring; the new butterflies will complete another leg of the journey before laying eggs; and it takes at least another one generation before the butterflies reach their summer home.
Even then, the U.S. Forest Service says that there are two more generations before the “super generation” is born. Let’s do the math, the new “super generation” of butterflies are the great-great-great grandkids (or butterflies) of the “super generation” from the previous winter – imagine how hard it is to keep track of that family tree!
⛹️♂️ Sept. 14 - Recess: ‘Super generation’ of monarch butterflies migrate each fall
The monarch butterfly is one of the prettiest sights of the summer, but do you know of the amazing journey that these tiny winged insects take each fall?
The phenomenon of the monarch butterflies migrating to their winter home in Mexico as the weather turns colder is known as a “super generation” -- that’s what Pablo Jaramillo-López, a research scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told National Geographic.
Most monarch butterflies only live 2 to 6 weeks, while this “super generation” of monarchs lives 8 to 9 months – it’s just the cooler weather that allows them to live longer.
Butterflies are cold-blooded, meaning they have to find ways to warm and cool their bodies. The cool weather slows the butterflies down – they don’t eat over the winter and wait to lay their eggs until the spring.
Don’t worry, the United States Forest Service said that the monarch butterflies don’t get hungry over the winter. Much like animals that hibernate, monarchs eat enough in the fall and store up that fat to get them through the winter. They do still need to drink and sip on the water and dew in Mexico.
In this April 26, 2015 file photo, a monarch butterfly feeds on a duranta flower in Houston. Six states and the Federal Highway Administration signed an agreement Thursday, May 26, 2016, to make Interstate 35 roadsides more conducive to bees and butterflies by integrating plants that provide refuge and food for the pollinators in hopes of helping them recover from declining populations. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan,File)
🔬 Sept. 11 - Weather Lab: Does cold water boil faster than warm water?
Have you ever been asked to boil a pot of water and heard someone tell you to use cold water since that will boil faster? Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) outside of the high mountains, so colder water boiling faster than warmer water may not seem to make sense. However, if enough people are wondering what is the correct answer – let’s head to the kitchen to find out:
We tried this test at least three times to make sure of the result, and as a reminder for any kids, be sure to have an adult help you if you want to do your own test at home.
The test above shows that when all things are equal, colder water will not boil faster than warmer water – from a scientific point of view. However, there are a few things we have to mention about why some people may think the opposite is true (as a good scientist would do).
If you have to let the water run out of the faucet until it’s warm enough, you may not have saved any time by using the warmer water (and you wasted some water).
In the above test, the difference between the cold and warm water used was about 55 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). In the summer, the water coming out of the cold faucet may not be that chilly and won’t lose the race to the warmer water to boil faster by much.
OK, time to write up our scientific conclusion – it is a fact that cold water will not boil faster than warmer water. Plus, running the water to get it warm enough to get a jump start on the boiling process may not save you any time in the kitchen.
🎨 Sept. 11 - Art Class: The case of the disappearing meteorologist
If you watch your favorite meteorologist on TV every day, you may notice that they never wear green. Why is that? AccuWeather On-Air Meteorologist Geoff Cornish solves this mystery, and it’s not as simple as that meteorologists hate the color green!
“Wait a minute, I’ve seen some meteorologists on the AccuWeather Television Network wearing green!” – is that what you are thinking? While meteorologists stand in front of a green screen at most television stations, the main studio at AccuWeather is set up differently:
Recently, you may also have noticed that some meteorologists are filming weather reports from home – maybe even in their basements! Just like you may have had to switch to remote learning for school, some meteorologists are staying home to stay safe from coronavirus. Don’t worry – you are still getting accurate weather forecasts!
📝 Sept. 8 - Pop quiz! What percentage of tsunamis are caused by earthquakes?
If you said, more than 80 percent, you get a gold star! That’s right, most tsunamis are triggered when the tectonic plates way below our feet shift and shake the ocean.
Did you know that the weather has caused tsunamis before? These dangerous waves are called meteotsunamis (makes sense since people who study the weather are called meteorologists, right?).
A quick change in air pressure, which can happen with a fast-moving line of severe thunderstorms, can act as the plunger we used earlier to explain tsunamis.
Volcanoes and landslides can also be blamed for triggering tsunamis. Speaking of volcanoes, let’s listen to the This Date in Weather History podcast to hear the story of one of the deadliest volcano eruptions in modern history.
🔬 Sept. 8 - Weather Lab: Toilet bowl plungers help explain tsunamis
It’s a quiet day on the ocean with gentle ripples in the water, when all of a sudden – bam – an earthquake hits. If that earthquake is under the water or near the coast, there is a risk of a tsunami wave being triggered – tsunamis can then flood beaches and kill people who haven’t moved to higher ground.
If you are trying to picture what a tsunami looks like, see how terrifying it was for people in Indonesia when one tsunami crashed ashore:
Now, let’s grab a toilet bowl plunger to see how a tsunami starts – but it won’t be as scary as the tsunami you just saw!
Obviously, tsunamis are much bigger than what you saw in the video above -- but that showed how a quick jolt in the ocean can trigger a wave. When a tsunami wave hits a beach, it may look like a wall of water or a fast-rising flood, NOAA said, and the power of water is what makes tsunamis so dangerous.
⛹️♂️ Sept. 8 - Gym class: How to survive a tsunami – you can’t dive under it!
Do you like jumping in the waves in the ocean? When a large wave is coming, you dive under the wave to make sure that it doesn’t knock you down, right? However, you can’t do that when a tsunami wave is about to strike – you have to get to higher ground and run away from the beach as soon as a tsunami warning is issued:
Why can’t you just dive under a tsunami wave? The waves that you typically play in at the beach ride along the top of the ocean, our friends at NOAA point out. On the other hand, a tsunami moves through the entire ocean – from the ocean’s floor to the top of the water. There is nowhere to dive underneath it.
Additional experiments and reporting by Jason Nicholls.
Previously:Report a Typo