Web Smarts


WHAT: It's spring, and that means May baskets, tulips, and rain showers. But to some it also means unpredictable - and severe - weather: thunderstorms, tornadoes, and lightning. The National Severe Storm Laboratory's site will make you think twice when you see a cumulonimbus cloud foaming up in the distance.

BEST POINTS: They tell you how weather systems form and facts about their frequency in the United States. Look at a list of weather symbols professionals use. Learn how hurricanes form over the ocean, about the power of a tornado (up to 300 m.p.h.), and how lightning is formed. For example, in the contiguous US, an average of 20,000,000 cloud-to-ground lightning flashes have been detected every year since 1989. Did you know thunderstorms may be 10 to 15 miles in diameter and have an average lifetime of 20 to 30 minutes? There is even information about storm chasers. With the advent of Doplar radar, the need for "storm chasers" has been reduced, but they are still used for special projects. There is even a link that explains what you should know if you are interested in pursuing a career in meteorology, and a list of schools that offer related degrees.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: This is general information. You can find more detailed information, including academic research, at NSSL's home page, which you can link to from this site. Some of the research is complex, technical information.

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