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The simplest definition of Precipitation is any form of water that falls from the sky. Evidently, any precipitation develops in Earth’s atmosphere and then falls to the surface, usually as rain.

Precipitation is part of the water cycle, and thanks to this component, living organisms get the freshwater they need to survive. After falling, it evaporates and rises into the atmosphere as a gas, condenses, and falls again. This process repeats over and over again.

Each year about 505,000 km3 of water fall to the Earth´s surface; 398,000 km3 on oceans and 107,000 km3 on land. It means that on average, annual rainfall is about 99 centimeters. 
But precipitation is different in each region of the world. For example in Georgia, USA, the rain falls evenly during the year, about 102-107 centimeters annually, while in Arica, Chile, it didn’t rain for 14 consecutive years. Then, rainfall can vary across a region, area, or even a city.

It means the conversion of water vapor into a liquid that accumulates around tiny dust particles, forming clouds.

Causes of Precipitation.

Precipitation falls to Earth after a condensation process. It means the conversion of water vapor into a liquid that accumulates around tiny dust particles, forming clouds. When the droplets become too heavy, gravity pulls them down. Let´s explain it further:

During the water cycle, the process of evaporation causes liquid water from the oceans, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water and even plants to become water vapor in the air. This vapor rises and accumulates in the atmosphere, forming clouds. Clouds are made mainly of water droplets, dust, ice, and salt. When they rise high enough, they become cirrostratus clouds, high-level clouds composed of ice crystals, and altostratus clouds, thick clouds made of ice and water.

Eventually, clouds fill with microscopic water droplets, which grow heavier; this happens due to air turbulence that moves droplets around and joins them. When they’re eventually heavy enough to overcome air resistance, they fall to Earth surface. All types of precipitation originate in the clouds.

Rain, a type o precipitation.

Types of Precipitation.

Rain.
It is the precipitation in the form of drops of liquid water. Unlike its traditional representation, drops are spherical and not shaped like teardrops. They can have a diameter up to 6 mm; if drops are less than 0.5 mm, it is called drizzle.

Snow.

Snow is precipitation in the form of ice crystals. Its formation takes place in clouds when water vapor is sublimated and forms delicate ice crystals. When they fall, they join and form snowflakes, and therefore each flake has a complex structure based on crystals of frozen water, but they are soft if touched. According to the temperature and humidity, the snowflakes develop diverse patterns.

Precipitation allows plants to grow and agriculture to be successful provinding food for humans.


Hail.

It is the precipitation in the form of pieces of ice, created when chilling water droplets freeze at the top of the clouds. When they become larger, due to the binding of the frozen drops, air currents can’t hold them in the clouds, and these ice pieces fall. Given their size, they do not melt before reaching the Earth’s surface. Most Hail has a diameter of 25 mm, but they can be as large as 150 mm or as small as 5 mm.

hail

Sleet.

Sleet is rain and snow mixed that freezes before it hits the ground, creating ice pellets.

Another lesser-known kind of precipitation is diamond dust, which is composed of small ice crystals formed at temperatures not exceeding -30°C.

Needless to say, that precipitation is the basis of life. If the water vapor in the air just remained suspended there, bodies of water would dry up, and life would be impossible. Precipitation allows plants to grow and agriculture to be successful provinding food for humans.

Hail

What Is Hail?

 

Hail is something that occurs in most parts of the world. This does cause a lot of damage at times and it can be very troublesome also but what is hail?  Hail is a variety of differently shaped ice balls or lumps. These are mostly referred to hailstones and in most occasions, are not harmful but in some instances, they can be very dangerous.

Hail or hailstones are made up of water ice and can be any size; it can be measured anything from five millimetres and two hundred millimetres. Though, most hail are produced during thunderstorms and heavy rains and aren’t worrying.

How Is Hail Created?

Hail can be created with strong and upward motions of air but a lower freeze level.  Some formations might gather more pressure and create larger balls or lumps of ice water.  In some instances, the hail forms inside the interiors of continents but in climates with higher temperatures such as in the tropics, the formation stays at a high elevation level.

Hail and hailstorms can be created in any continent and can occur in any country around the world, even the countries which have good weather. If this happens, they could be very dangerous when they come down in a rain shower. Though, if they aren’t large, it shouldn’t be anything more than a normal rain shower.

However, many scientists can predict when thunderstorms are going to happen and can detect hailstorms and hail occurring. This can be done through weather radar imagery and satellites used especially for predicting weather and weather changes. When the hail is created and are larger than normal or average size, then they will fall at greater speeds. However, things such as friction with wind and air; and melting and the hail’s interaction with other hailstones and rain can slow down the speeds.

Hail facts and information
Dangerous road during a hail storm in Greece

Understanding Hail and How It Is Formed

Hail is basically caused during thunderstorms and if hail actually reaches the human population, it is known as hailstorms. However, their size can vary as can its weight because it can be anything up to one pound and over. The worst part of hail is that they have layers and layers of ice water clamped and stuck together and it can be an odd looking size also.

This is basically ice on top of ice; thick layers of ice could be the size of a golf ball or larger.  If the formation is over a certain size then it can cause serious damage to property and human life.  Hailstones can actually be very small and sometimes undetectable but they can be very large in size also and that does mean added weight. The size can vary in terms of how strong the updraft is; and if the hailstorms are weaker then smaller hailstones are going to be formed. Larger or stronger hailstorms are classed as super cells.

The hail is formed in stronger thunderstorm clouds when there is an intense updraft; and the high liquid water content increases. If the cloud is well below freezing then the ice water can be formed. If the air temperature is very cold, more formations of hail will be created.

The Damage That Can Be Inflicted?

Some hailstone sizes can range from pea sized to as big as a nickel.  However, the hailstones can actually cause a lot of damage especially to cars and vehicles, aircrafts, buildings, crops and livestock animals also. More often than not, it is the roofs which take full effects of the hailstorm damage and can cause cracks in buildings and leaks in the roof also.

Most roofs that are made from metal can be resistant to damage from the hailstorms.  However, aircrafts such as planes and helicopters are going to feel most effects of hail damage especially whilst flying.  In fact they can be highly hazardous to aircrafts because the hailstorms can cause a severe amount of damage to aircrafts within only a few moments.

Even on the ground, hailstorms and hail balls are very troublesome to drivers of vehicles because they can reign down on vehicles and cause a lot of damage to roofs, hoods and even come crashing through sunroofs.  Windshields are often the target of hailstones and can crack or shatter them completely. Though, it is not just the vehicles or aircrafts which can be effected by hailstones.  Crops can be damaged also by hailstones.

Hail and hailstorms can cause:

  • Electricity or power cuts and black outs.
  • Injury to humans and animals
  • Cause damage to vehicles and aircrafts
Hail or hailstone facts
Hailstones from an Austrian region.

Accumulation of Hail

The accumulation of hail can be caused because of narrow zone in which the hail forms.  This is on the ground working alongside a thunderstorm and its various activities; this can be called streaks.  However, the accumulation can actually be detected via a satellite but the actual storms do not last for a lengthy period of time.

They last for a good 10-15 minutes and if they reign over land at this time, they will cover the ground and can knock out electricity also.  There have been many instances in which thousands of homes and residents have been left without power.  Hailstorms can also create flash flooding, bring down trees and cause mudslides to happen also.

There are a number of things which could happen when hail builds up and a hailstorm arrives, however, on most occasions, it won’t be anything too serious. However, there can be a lot of things which can occur from hail including flooding due to drains becoming blocked and a build up of hail can turn into something more serious and start flooding populated areas.  It might not always be like this because some floods will not be as bad as some others but again, it will all depend on how furious the hail has become and whether or not, there is a long hail storm.

Conclusion

Throughout the years, there have been many who have been effected by hailstorms.  In some instances, they have even caused fatalities and serious injuries however; many have tried to suppress hailstorms. This is not really possible to do because even though many scientists believe they can predict a weather change, they cannot actually stop a hailstorm from coming.  No one can suppress or prevent a hailstorm approaching and can only take cover in doors when they come.

Of course, some, if not, large percentage of all hailstorms, are not going to cause a lot of damage or be that great in size or weight.  If so, there shouldn’t be any real damage to anyone or anything either.  However, there are some instances where there are going to be a lot of damage.  Hailstorms and hail balls can vary in size and weight.

Hail is a natural disaster and it can prove fatal also.  Many do not believe this or even think about this but it is possible; and that is why it is always wise to be indoors when it a hail storm brews.  In most cases, it will come to nothing but there are going to be some cases in which the hail becomes deadly. Taking shelter when it forms, will be a good idea.

 

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Blizzard

 

By definition, a blizzard is an extended, severe snowstorm. In order to qualify as a blizzard, winds have to be at least 35mph and rage for a longer period of time—at least three hours or more. The amount of snowfall has little to do with a storm qualifying as a snowstorm, but rather the intensity of the wind and length of time. There are two other classifications for blizzards:

–Severe blizzard: winds over 45mph, temperatures at 10 Fahrenheit or lower, near zero visibility.

–Ground blizzard: no falling snow, snow from the ground is blown by the strong winds.

A nor’easter gets it’s name from the direction of the oncoming winds. This occurs on the Atlantic side of Canada and East Coast of the USA. These storms can start as far south as the Gulf of Mexico or the North Atlantic Ocean. However, the most common usage of the name is in the coastal regions of Atlantic Canada and New England. These storms are similar to a hurricane. One of the deadliest blizzards in the USA—the Great Blizzard of 1888—was a nor’easter, killing 400 people after dumping 40-50 inches of snow.

What causes blizzards?

Blizzards are usually formed when the jet stream pitches very far south. This allows the cold air that comes from the north to collide with warm air coming from the south. This creates a strong storm system, usually developing on the northwest side of such storm systems.

Any area which is mostly flat is susceptible to blizzards, though there are some areas in the US, Australia, and the UK that suffer from blizzards more than others. However, the deadliest blizzard in recorded history occurred in Iran in 1972.

Dangers of blizzards

Blizzards are one of nature’s deadlier storms, as the conditions make travel and movement hazardous. Snowstorms disrupt traffic, but blizzards make any kind of travel nearly impossible. Almost every blizzard results in at least a few deaths, with some of the bigger ones resulting in hundreds of people dying.

Visibility is drastically reduced, in some cases to as little as 3 meters or what is called zero visibility.  In a ground blizzard, though no new snow is falling, the snow already on the ground is whipped up and around by the winds to where visibility is also close to zero.

Travel under these conditions is close to impossible. Cars have to come to a complete standstill as they can drive off the road. Because blizzards rage for so long, people can get trapped in their cars, freezing to death as they wait for it to clear. Once the storm is over, cars are often buried under mounds of snow, making it difficult for rescue teams to find them. Hypothermia sets in as people trapped outdoors try to find shelter and warmth.

Blizzards have been known to come suddenly and while it is possible to be warned in advance, it’s not always possible to be entirely prepared for the intensity of the blizzard. Clearing roads is not possible until after the blizzard has passed and then takes a long time due to the intensity of the build up. The aftermath of the blizzard can be almost as dangerous as the storm itself, as people trapped inside vehicles, unheated buildings, or outdoors take longer to be found and brought to warmth and safety.

blizzard facts and information
Snow covered car

History of blizzards

Though not as common as snowstorms, tornadoes, or even hurricanes, blizzards are deadly every time they hit. Not all blizzards are mentioned here, not even all of the most severe. This is just a sample of the havoc that blizzards can wreak.

–The white winter of 1880-1881 is one of the earliest blizzards mentioned in history books. This is considered the worst winter in US history. Because the first blizzard hit in October, before most farmers had the opportunity to bring in their crops. One after the other the blizzards continued to hit, making travel impossible, even by train. People were at the brink of starvation and train services stopped completely by January 1880 as no matter how often they cleared the tracks, another storm would come and cover them again. The snow never thawed and on February 2, 1881 a nine day blizzard hit again. By then, towns and farmers had to tunnel through the snow to get to livestock, wood for heating, and supplies.  Once the snow started melting, huge areas were flooded, washing away huge areas around the Missouri river. The town of Yankton, currently South Dakota, was nearly completely washed away by the overflowing river.

–The Iran Blizzard of 1972 is the deadliest recorded blizzard. Starting on February 3, until February 9, more than 10 feet of snow fell, the worst areas in Southern Iran getting up to 26 feet of snow. Whole villages died, one being completely buried beneath the snow. Approximately 4000 people died.

–The Armistice Day Blizzard in 1947 came somewhat unexpected, resulting in a lot of deaths. On the morning of the blizzard, the weather was warm, resulting in many hunters going out to take advantage of ideal conditions. Within a few hours, the blizzard hit, raging through the night and into the next day. 145 deaths were reported as a result of the 1,000 mile wide storm. Many hunters were not dressed warmly enough to withstand the wind and snow. Many were stranded on islands in the Mississippi, or drowned trying to get back to land.

–The Schoolhouse Blizzard in 1888 is different from the nor’easter and in some ways more heart breaking. Because the day started out relatively fair, people went about their lives, with children going to school and adults going to work. The storm hit early in the day, leaving thousands stranded; mostly children in their one-room schoolhouses. 235 people died; including children.

Although meteorologists are now able to more accurately predict blizzards, the storms still have the ability to cripple whole cities at a time, and deaths are almost always inevitable. Over the years, rescue missions during and after blizzards are becoming better and preparedness goes a long way towards preventing large amounts of casualties. It has also become considerably easier to notify people of oncoming storms, with more reliable predictions and getting the word out quickly and effectively.

Countries which are not used to large amounts of snow, extreme cold, and long periods of strong winds tend to have a harder time coping when the storms hit. Regardless of where the blizzards hit, there is never a way to be completely prepared. There is always a chance of power outages, communications systems breaking down, people going for long periods with little or no heat, and getting trapped outdoors or in a vehicle. During winter months, people are advised to pay close attention to weather warning coming over the radio or TV. There are weather websites set up to help people prepare for blizzards and post warnings when a snowstorm is being upgraded to a blizzard.

 

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