AccuWeather School: Week 9
📽️ June 5 - Movie Time: Octopus ends up on a car’s windshield!
We wrap up AccuWeather School’s Movie Day with definitely something you don’t see everyday – two octopuses ended up on a car’s windshield! (Quick grammar lesson before we watch the video – yes, the plural of octopus is octopuses and not octopi.)
These octopuses were blown out of the water during Typhoon Lekima, which hit eastern China in August 2019. If you like watching videos of octopuses, check out this one of a baby octopus hatching from an egg!
Let’s go back to the first octopus video – what’s a typhoon? That’s what hurricanes are called in the western Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes are also called something else in the Indian Ocean – check out the video below to find out what:
We hoped you enjoyed Movie Day as much as we did. On Monday’s final day of AccuWeather School, we’ll show you the greatest hits of weather experiments.
However, the fun doesn’t stop there! AccuWeather Summer Camp starts on Tuesday with new and exciting experiments and activities – join us to have fun this summer and learn more about the weather!
🎭 June 5 - Story Time: Extreme closeup of a tornado – don’t try this at home!
Movie Day at AccuWeather School continues with this extreme closeup video of a tornado in far eastern Colorado. Before you watch this fascinating video, remember you never want to get this close to a tornado. This video was filmed by a meteorologist and professional storm chaser.
You also should never be in a vehicle when a tornado threatens. Tornadoes can lift cars and trucks into the air. Plus, debris picked up by tornadoes can turn into missiles that can strike anything on the road.
If the tornado is far away, your parents can drive at a 90-degree angle away from the twister. Again, that is only if the tornado is not close – they shouldn’t try to outrun a tornado that is too close.
If you’ve run out of time to get to a storm shelter and you won’t get hit by flying debris leaving your car, lying flat in a ditch (not an overpass) with your arms covering your head can be safer than being in your car or truck.
⛹️♂️ June 5 - Recess: Dolphin juggling a jellyfish?
Little kids often love it when a parent or someone else gently tosses them up in the air and catches them – so maybe the jellyfish in the video below asked his buddy dolphin friend to flip him up out of the water!
🛎 June 5 - Morning Bell: Movie Day at AccuWeather School!
AccuWeather School is just about done since AccuWeather Summer Camp starts next week! After you've finished any final projects or exams at school, what does your teacher do? Let you play games and watch movies, right? That’s what we are doing at AccuWeather School today with funny weather videos!
Who loves jumping into a pool or lake to cool off on a hot, summer day? Ringo, the Border Collie mix, couldn’t contain his excitement when his family pulled up next to a lake. Check out how fast he runs out of the car and dives in for a swim!
One thing to always remember on a hot day in the late spring or early summer, the water may be too cold for you to do a cannonball into a lake, river or ocean. Worse than making you shiver, you could get something really bad known as cold water shock.
🎭 June 4 - Story Time: Real-life tornado behind ‘The Wizard of Oz’
Have you watched the movie The Wizard of Oz? What sent Dorothy to the Land of Oz? That’s right, a tornado! Did you know that if it wasn’t for an actual tornado from 1879 and a lady, Dorothy Gale, who died in that tornado, there may have never been this classic movie?
Let’s gather around for story time and listen to AccuWeather’s This Date in Weather History podcast to learn more about that devastating tornado and Dorothy – she was really found without her shoes.
The Wizard of Oz is set in Kansas – part of Tornado Alley. It’s no coincidence that most of the tornadoes you hear about occur in the United States, since that is where the majority of tornadoes across the globe happen. However, there has been a tornado on every continent except one: Antarctica!
🔬 June 4 - Weather Lab: Time to spin up tornadoes at home
A lot of ingredients go into a real tornado forming, but making one at home is simple with just a few items. You will need water and two empty soda bottles that are the same size, plus food coloring and glitter if you want to have extra fun with this experiment. To make the two soda bottles hold together, ask an adult to grab a large nail and hammer (or a drill with a half-inch drill bit will work) and duct tape.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls shows us how to put everything together and spin up our own tornado in the video below!
📚 June 4 – Pop quiz! Does living in a city or on a mountain make you safe from tornadoes?
Which of the following is true when it comes to tornadoes:
Green clouds indicate a tornado is forming
Seeking shelter under an overpass is safe when a tornado is threatening
Tornadoes only form on flat land
Cities are safe from tornadoes
There has been a tornado in every state in America
Here is a hint – only one of the above is true. Let’s eliminate the first one. Green clouds can tell you that a strong thunderstorm is approaching, but not necessarily a tornado.
Let’s eliminate two more by thinking about the tornado that hit Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 11, 1999. It struck both a city and went up and down a canyon. Tornadoes can form almost anywhere if the right ingredients come together. While a city may seem big to you, it’s actually a small dot on the map. Odds are higher that a tornado won’t hit a city, but it has happened and can again. So #3 and #4 cannot be the right answer.
That leaves us with #2 and #5 to choose from. The answer is #5 – there has been a tornado in every state in America. Even in Alaska, there have been four tornado sightings since 1950. Since #5 was right, that means that you should never seek shelter underneath an overpass due to stronger winds and debris that can get thrown up against the bridge.
Reed Timmer witnessed a tornado blasting right over an overpass in Clinton, Mississippi, on April 15, 2011. (Photo/Reed Timmer)
📚 June 4 - Study Hall: Nighttime is a very dangerous time for tornadoes
Out of the 1,253 tornadoes that track across the U.S. each year (on average), just over a quarter occur at night. However, more people are killed by tornadoes between midnight and 6 a.m. – why do you think that is?
You and your parents are normally sound asleep at that time. Even if you were awake, it’s hard to see a tornado approaching when it’s dark out. That’s why it is really important that your parents keep the volume up on their cellphones and weather radios to hear tornado warnings.
🛎 June 4 - Morning Bell: Most dangerous thing to see on radar
Have you ever dressed up like a pirate for Halloween and had a hook on your hand? While that was fun, it is no laughing matter when you see a pirate’s hook on weather radar.
A tornado-producing thunderstorm was seen near Birmingham, Alabama, on April 27, 2011. The different colors show you where it is raining and how heavy the rain is. (Image/GR2Analyst)
Look at the image above – it definitely looks like a hook, right? Meteorologists don’t call that a pirate’s hook, but a hook echo – a clear sign on radar that a tornado is on the ground.
Powerful thunderstorms that produce a tornado need warm, moist air to survive, and you can see that air rushing into the thunderstorm on radar – that’s the gap in the colors just above the tornado. Rain wrapping around the back of the thunderstorm to the tornado completes the hook.
There are times when the radar sees more than rain with a tornado. It can also tell if the tornado has debris spinning around it after it struck trees and buildings – that’s a worrisome sight for meteorologists.
📓 June 3 – Homework: Ahh, the smell of rain ... but what are you actually smelling?
For your homework – if it rains in your area, go outside and take a deep breath through your nose. Does it smell nice? So many people like that smell that there are rain-scented laundry detergents and candles. It may surprise you that you aren’t really smelling raindrops. You are actually getting a whiff of dirt, worms and other things in the ground.
Here’s another big word to impress your parents and teachers with – petrichor. That’s the scent that fills the air as raindrops hit the ground. It’s caused by oils from plants, mainly leaves, that settle onto soils or pavement over time. The more time that passes between rain events, the more the oil will build up and the stronger the scent.
Don’t forget when you head outside to smell the rain, grab an umbrella or raincoat or you’ll get soaked!
🎶 June 3 – Music class: Soothing sound of falling rain
Do you enjoy listening to rain falling outside? Does it help you go to sleep? You will hear many people say that the perfect sleeping weather is when it is cloudy and rainy. Obviously, a loud boom of thunder will abruptly wake you up!
What else outside can make you feel calmer? Taking a stroll along an ocean, lake or river or even swimming and surfing. It’s called a “blue state of mind” when you feel really relaxed after enjoying one of those activities.
🍎 June 3 - Snack Time! Meteorologists look for doughnut holes on radar, and not for a snack!
Your mouth may water when you see doughnut holes, but meteorologists can get a big clue about the weather when they see something that looks like a doughnut hole on radar.
Think of times when you have seen green on weather radar showing precipitation over your home. You can look outside, and it is raining, right? At other times, red on radar will depict heavy rain, blue shows snow, and pink is ice. However, there are times when the radar will fool everyone but meteorologists into thinking that it is raining or snowing when, in fact, it is not. Meteorologists keep an eye out for a doughnut hole on radar, much like what you see in the image below.
This radar image is courtesy of the National Weather Service Office in Omaha, Nebraska, from January 2019.
A doughnut hole on radar typically means that the rain or snow falling out of the cloud is not reaching the ground. The air is too dry near the ground, and the rain or snow will evaporate (big word time – this is called virga). In the above image, the radar is right in showing no rain or snow around Des Moines, Iowa. The problem is that the radar beam is angled up higher in the sky the farther away from Des Moines, so it thinks it is seeing rain or snow when nothing is actually reaching the ground.
Do you see any doughnut holes on your local radar or just real ones in your fridge?
⭐️ June 3 - Gold Star: Winning hurricane name is ...
Everyone gets a gold star for your recent homework assignment, which was to send in your choices for a new hurricane name to replace Tropical Storm Imelda from last year. Even though it was a short-lived tropical storm, Imelda caused deadly flooding – so there is a chance that it could be retired before last year’s list of names is used in 2025.
Out of the nearly 55 different names we received, Ivy amassed the most votes!
It was a bit trickier than when we asked you to give name suggestions to replace Dorian from last year. However, everyone put on their thinking caps and sent in great ideas!
Imogen, Isla, Ivanka, and Isidora were other popular choices!
Thank you for completing your homework on time. As far as what the official name will be, we have to wait until early 2021. The World Meteorological Organization will meet to decide if Imelda will definitely be retired and what name will replace it – stay tuned!
Imelda was bearing down on southeastern Texas on Sept. 17, 2019. (Image/ NOAA/NESDIS/STAR)
📓 June 2 - Homework : Crickets make good thermometers – give it a try!
Here’s another weather folklore that’s true – you can use crickets as thermometers!
“Crickets chirp faster when the air is warmer and slower when it’s cooler,” said AccuWeather Broadcast Meteorologist Regina Miller. Simply count how many cricket chirps you hear in 14 seconds and add 40. That will give you a rough estimate of the temperature in Fahrenheit (convert to Celsius if you need to), according to Regina.
How about if a woolly caterpillar can predict a harsh winter? We shift from homework to story time as the AccuWeather podcast below has that answer and more weather folklore:
⛹️♂️ June 2 - Recess: Try balancing an egg on its end
Wait, why is this your recess activity if today is not the first day of spring or fall? That’s because you can attempt to balance an egg on its end any day of the year. One piece of folklore you hear is that this trick can only be achieved on the equinox, which is the first day of spring or fall.
People believe this folklore since they think the gravitational pull placed on the egg on the equinox allows it to remain upright throughout the day. “That’s not true,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel. “You can get lucky and balance an egg anytime. It has nothing to do with the equinox.”
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski was able to stand an egg on its end on April 24, 2020, way after the vernal equinox.
To do this trick, you just need a lot of patience, concentration and a really solid surface (and permission from your parents in case you make a mess!).
One thing that is balanced on the equinox: the amount of daylight and darkness. These are the only two days of the year where day and night are about equal as the sun’s rays are directed at the equator.
📝 June 2 - Pop quiz! What is heat lightning?
This is a trick question – heat lightning doesn’t exist! “You’re lying” – is that what you are thinking? It’s a mostly clear summer night and you see flashes of lightning off in the distance – you’ve been told that’s heat lightning. Actually, what you are seeing is just lightning from a really far away thunderstorm.
Thunderstorms can tower up to 6 to 10 miles (9.5 to 16 km) high in the sky, allowing the lightning to be seen from distances of more than 100 miles (161 km) away, even above mountains. You don’t hear any rumbles of thunder since it’s unlikely the sound of thunder will travel more than 10 miles (16 km).
The term “heat lightning” may have started because people thought this phenomenon only happens when it’s hot. It is true that you see distant lightning more in the summer, but that’s because thunderstorms are more common on warm and humid summer days.
Bolts of lightning are shown striking south of San Francisco on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
🌎 June 2 - History Class: It's raining ... fish, frogs, and turtles?! That's happened before!
Weather can be really scary at times. Tornadoes and hurricanes can be frightening and can make you fear for your safety. Some people have even thought a certain weather event in the past meant the world was coming to an end!
What would you think if it was raining and more than just raindrops were falling from the sky? We aren’t talking about hail or snow, but tiny white fish. That actually happened in the small town of Lajamanu in the Northern Territory of Australia in early 2010! It is likely that strong winds flowing from the ground into an intense thunderstorm may have picked up the fish. As rain and wind came back down to the ground, so did the fish!
There are other instances in history of fish and frogs being sucked up into a powerful thunderstorm or tornado. A turtle was even wrapped in a 6-inch ball of ice and fell from the sky during a hailstorm in Mississippi more than a century ago.
🛎 June 2 - Morning Bell: Any truth in ‘Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning?'
Are you familiar with any examples of weather folklore – a phrase referring to someone witnessing a visual phenomenon that is believed to mean a certain weather event will happen? Have you heard of how the stripe on woolly caterpillars can predict how harsh a winter will be? Or how when an older relative says their bones are creaking, that means that a storm is coming?
The phrases “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” or “Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning," are one of the most common among weather folklore.
Weather folklore has been passed down from generations. Many are centuries old and stem from when people did not have computers and smartphones to get a weather forecast. People would notice things that occurred ahead of certain weather and used those observations to make their own forecasts.
Some folklore is true; some has been proven false. Back to the “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight" – there is actually truth to it! Learn more below:
📓 June 1 - Homework: You decide! Name a hurricane
When a hurricane kills many people and/or causes a lot of damage, its name is retired – meaning it will never be used again.
A few weeks ago during AccuWeather School, we came up with a replacement name for deadly Hurricane Dorian from last year. In addition to Dorian, it is also possible that the name Imelda will be retired before last year’s list of names is repeated in 2025.
Imelda was bearing down on southeastern Texas on Sept. 17, 2019. (Image/ NOAA/NESDIS/STAR)
Imelda never became a hurricane and was only a tropical storm for less than 24 hours but caused deadly and horrible flooding in southeastern Texas – one area had 44.29 inches of rain. Compare that total to how tall you are – that’s too much rain from one storm!
So your homework is to pick a name to replace Imelda. The name has to begin with an “I” and be a lady’s name (the names go back and forth between male and female names). One more rule – you can’t pick Ingrid, Irene, Iris, Irma, Inez, Ione and Isabel. Those names have already been retired. Ida and Idalia are also out since they are already on the lists for next year and 2023.
What name did you pick? Send us your ideas on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #AccuWeatherSchool.
🎭 June 1 - Story Time: Would you fly into a powerful hurricane?
People are told to leave home before a major hurricane strikes, so why would anyone want to fly into a hurricane? Just as firefighters will run into a burning building to save you, hurricane hunters will fly into these powerful and dangerous storms for you.
The information hurricane hunters collect from a hurricane is used by meteorologists to help them figure out where the hurricane will track in the future – and be able to tell you and your family how to prepare and stay safe.
Capt. Kristie Twining (left), Cmdr. Rebecca Waddington (right), and Lt. Lindsey Norman (front) became the NOAA's first all-female three-pilot flight crew in August. (Twitter / NOAA_HurrHunter)
Let’s gather around and hear the first all-female crew of hurricane hunters share their stories of flying into Hurricane Dorian last year in the AccuWeather podcast below. These are very brave ladies!
🍎 June 1 - Snack Time! Birthday candles can help us learn about hurricanes
What do birthday candles have to do with hurricanes? Let’s look at the recipe card for how hurricanes form and find out.
The first ingredient for hurricanes is warm water of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 degrees Celsius). Just like your car won’t run if you don’t put gas in it, warm water is the fuel for hurricanes.
Up next on the recipe card is wind. Hurricanes produce really strong winds that can destroy homes, but winds over the area where the hurricane is forming or moves through have to be light. Time to get out our birthday candles:
“If you were to try to light birthday candles in front of a fan, it would blow out the candles,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Larson said. “Similarly, if there is a lot of wind high in the atmosphere [air above our heads], it will not let the hurricane form.” Big word time – these winds that can stop a hurricane are known as strong wind shear.
🛎 June 1 - Morning Bell: A tropical storm hit Florida on Groundhog Day? It’s true!
It’s not unusual for a tropical storm to strike Florida – the state has suffered more direct hits by a hurricane than any other state in the country. But when a tropical storm hit South Florida on the night of Groundhog Day in 1952, many people were scratching their heads wondering if it was really February. Plus, do you think Punxsutawney Phil predicted that storm?
June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through the end of November. That’s the time of the year when tropical storms and hurricanes are most likely to occur, but not the only time they can form.
Hurricane Alex spinning over the Atlantic Ocean on Jan. 14, 2016. Alex was the first hurricane recorded over the Atlantic in the month of January since 1955. (Image/NASA/EOSDIS Worldview)
Across the Atlantic hurricane basin (which includes the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea), a tropical storm has formed during every month of the year. February and April are the only hurricane-free months. That’s right – there’s been a hurricane in January before – when some of you have had snow on the ground!
Speaking of snow – if you live where it typically snows a lot in winter, you have probably seen snow in October, November and/or April. Mother Nature just needs the right ingredients for any type of weather, hurricanes included – and doesn’t care what month the calendar says.
Additional experiments and reporting by Jason Nicholls.
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