AccuWeather Summer Camp: Week 6
🔥 July 17 - Campfire Tales: Heat lightning doesn’t exist!
Have you ever been outside on a warm, summer evening and saw flashes of lightning in the distance? Were you told that it's heat lightning? Many of us were, but that’s not true. Heat lightning doesn’t exist! Let’s find out more:
So, what some people call heat lightning is really just a far away thunderstorm – the thunderstorm that Krissy saw in the video above was more than 40 miles (64 km) away!
Lightning dwarfs city lights as a distant thunder storm passes by Dodge City, Kansas, on June 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
🪐 July 17 - Space Exploration: Shooting stars and comets aren’t the same thing
When you think of a comet, does something like a shooting star come to mind? A comet has the image of a shooting star in the sense that it is bright and has a tail, but a comet and shooting star are two very different things.
“A shooting star can be seen as a quick-moving flash that moves across the sky in just one or two seconds,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel said.
A shooting star is a meteor (or small rock) that enters Earth’s atmosphere and burns up before reaching the ground. On the other hand, Dave said, a comet is usually very far from Earth and appears nearly stationary in the sky.
Comet NEOWISE is seen in the sky over central Pennsylvania on July 14, 2020. (Twitter/AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel)
“When the comet gets closer to the sun, the ice that most comets are made of burns off,” Dave said. “This produces a cloud that can be seen from Earth.”
Shooting stars are seen much more than comets, and the comet this weekend won’t be back for another 6,800 years – so don’t miss it if you live in the Northern Hemisphere!
🥕 July 16 - Gardening Time! Visit to a flourishing veggie garden
It’s time for our weekly check-in with AccuWeather Meteorologist Chris Nallan’s garden. You may get hungry seeing all of the growing vegetables, and the cucumbers and broccoli that he has picked!
While we all love to eat fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer and early fall, did you know that many homes before the time of electricity and refrigerators used root cellars to store vegetables and fruit in the winter? Apples, cabbages and root crops such as carrots, beets and potatoes could be kept for months when properly packed away in these cellars.
A root cellar – are you imagining a cellar that is made of roots? Actually, this was usually a separate room that was built into the north (coldest) corner of the basement and vented to the outside to provide circulation and to help keep the temperature to just above freezing.
🏕️ July 16 - Excursion Day: Corn sweat makes you feel hotter!
Wait a minute – corn sweats like you and me? While it is not exactly the same, corn releases water back into the air (it’s called transpiration) and that can make it harder for your body to keep cool if you live near a bunch of corn fields. Let’s head to a dairy farm in Pennsylvania to find out more:
Wait, Farmer Bill said that an acre of corn will give off 3,000 to 4,000 gallons (11,400-15,100 liters) of water each day, according to the USGS. A total of 3,000 gallons of water equals 24,000 typical 16-ounce plastic water bottles – that’s a lot of water!
One way to understand how your body cools off through evaporation is to get some hand sanitizer. After you rub it on your hands, shake your hands around – what do you feel? You feel cool as the hand sanitizer evaporates away, right? That is because evaporation is a cooling process. When the dew point is higher (which is what corn sweat causes), it is harder for hand sanitizer and sweat to evaporate – so it takes longer for you to cool down.
🏊🏽 July 16 - Time to hit the pool! Build your own water park
Many people are trying to figure out exciting ways to have summer fun from home. Find out how to build a water park in your own backyard for next to nothing:
🎨 July 15 - Art Station: Make your own thermometer (and volcano!) at home
Here’s a fun activity to wrap up a day talking about hot weather – let’s make a thermometer (and even a volcano if it works best!):
All you need is a clear water bottle filled with one-half cup of 91 percent rubbing alcohol (have an adult help you) and one-quarter cup of water. You’ll also need food coloring, Play Doh and a clear drinking straw:
If the water doesn’t come out through the straw, your Play Doh may not be airtight. As the air inside the bottle warms, it will expand and push down on the liquid and force it up the straw. If there is a hole in your seal, the air will seep out instead of pushing down on the liquid.
The thermometer in your home, not a digital one, works about the same way – as the liquid warms, it will rise up the thermometer and will fall back down as the liquid cools and contracts.
🎭 July 15 - Story Time: All-time record high in New York City
One of the reasons the AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature can tell you how hot you will feel when standing outside is because it factors in you being directly in the sizzling sun. The actual temperature you see on your AccuWeather app is taken from a thermometer in the shade.
Even in the shade, temperatures can get really high – the world’s highest temperature was set in Death Valley, California, on July 10, 1913, with a high of 134 F.
🔎 July 15 - Weather Detectives! Extreme AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures
When you are getting ready to head outside to play, the temperature will help you figure out if you can leave your jacket indoors or how much you have to bundle up in the winter. Before you run to check your thermometer, check out the AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature instead – it’s better at telling you how hot or cold you will feel outdoors:
Let’s talk about some of the most extreme AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures that have been recorded. Death Valley, California, holds the record for the all-time hottest actual temperature on Earth, but places around the Persian Gulf have endured some of the most brutal AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures – the air felt like temperatures topped 160 F in Iran in August 2015!
Baltimore Orioles outfielder Keon Broxton douses himself with water while taking a break between fielding and batting practice prior to a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, on Friday, July 19, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
🔥 July 14 - Campfire Tales: You aren’t stronger than the air
Grab a clean funnel from around your home, put a ping pong ball in it and blow through the bottom – how far did the ping pong ball go?
You may think that you can blow the ping pong ball out of the funnel, but why didn’t it budge? When you saw AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls blow as hard as he could into the funnel, that caused the air pressure around the ball to be lower than the surrounding air. Since air always wants to flow from high to low pressure, the higher pressure around the funnel pushes the ball down and keeps it from flying out of the funnel.
Wait a minute – why did the air pressure lower when Jason blew on the funnel? That’s due to Bernoulli’s Principle, which says that as the speed of air increases (which happens when you blow through the funnel or blow out candles), the pressure of the air will decrease.
🔬 July 14 - Invention Station: Ping pong balls help us understand hail
The more times that the hailstone takes a trip around a thunderstorm cloud, the more rings of ice it gets and the larger it becomes. Pea-sized hail spends only a short amount of time in a thunderstorm, while hailstones as large as baseballs, softballs or even grapefruits go up and down in a thunderstorm many times – and become very dangerous when they crash down to the ground!
🥤 July 14 - Water break! Gravity-defying ping pong balls
What happens when you put a ping pong ball against the opening of a water bottle and flip the bottle upside down? You would think the ping pong ball would fall out, right? We are all in for a surprise!
Why didn’t the ping pong ball move? The answer is air pressure – the air around us pushes in all directions and holds the ball in place against the force of the water pushing down.
Air pressure drives the weather – that’s what those Hs and Ls on weather maps mean. The H is for high pressure and usually nice weather, while rain or snow falls underneath low pressure (or L) on the map.
🔥 July 13 - Campfire Tales: What is the deadliest activity to do during a thunderstorm?
There are so many activities to do outside in the summer, but there is one thing they all have in common – you have to head indoors as soon as thunder is heard to avoid being struck by lightning.
Sadly, the average number of people across the United States killed by lightning each of the last 10 years was 25 – and most of those killed were having fun outside. While you may think most of those killed were playing golf, lightning has killed four times as many people fishing than those golfing! Actually, more people died from a lightning strike playing soccer than golf from 2006 to 2019.
A putting green for the 7th hole at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in North Carolina. A lightning bolt struck the pin, leaving the flag in tatters and marks on the grass radiating out from the hole. (Taylor Paasch)
That doesn’t mean that you can stay out longer on the golf course to try and hit your hole-in-one shot – any sport or game should turn into a race to see who can get into a building first when you hear that first clap of thunder!
Now, let’s gather ‘round the campfire and debunk more lightning myths and hear other ways you can stay safe during a thunderstorm from Dr. Lightning:
🔎 July 13 - Weather Detectives! It’s not your car’s tires that protect you from lightning
We are going to dispel one of the many lightning myths today – some people think that it’s the rubber tires of your car that keep you safe from lightning.
If that is the case, can you ride a bike or motorcycle during a thunderstorm or even sit on top of your car without worrying about getting struck by lightning? You shouldn’t do any of that during a thunderstorm or rely on tires to keep you safe. So what protects you from lightning in a car? Let’s find out:
Remember that your car has to have the metal frame all around it – an open cab of a tractor, golf cart or any construction equipment will not protect you from lightning. A convertible car, even with the top up, is also not safe to be in!
Lightning dwarfs city lights as a distant thunder storm passes by Dodge City, Kansas, on Friday, June 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
🏕️ July 13 - Excursion Day: Is any place in a park safe during a thunderstorm?
How many of you love to play at a park in the summer? Whether you like to swing or climb the monkey bars or have a picnic with friends and family, you need to know where you will run to if you hear thunder. You may know that underneath a tree is not safe, but what about a pavilion or tent – none of those are safe places to be during a thunderstorm!
It doesn’t have to be raining for lightning to hit a tree, pavilion or playground equipment. Lightning may strike as much as 10 miles (16 km) from any rain, and then you have to worry about a “bolt from the blue” after the rain has ended!
As soon as you hear thunder, storm is close enough for you to be struck by lightning – so that is the time to leave the park and head to your car or any nearby sturdy building, such as a grocery or convenience store.
Additional experiments and reporting by Jason Nicholls.
Previously:Report a Typo