How Storms Happen

Storms occur all over the world and come in all shapes and sizes, but have you ever wondered what makes a storm happen in the first place?  

A storm is several atmospheric conditions coming together in just the right way. 

For example, a plain ol’ rainstorm happens because of Earth’s water cycle.  

The cycle starts when water evaporates from the Earth’s surface and forms into clouds. Once the water vapor is up in the sky it starts to cool and condense around tiny particles in the air, such as dust or pollen. That’s when the vapor starts to grow bigger and form back into water droplets. When the droplets are heavy enough, gravity takes over and the rain starts to fall and the cycle starts all over again. 

If the cloud is below freezing temperature, those water droplets will form into ice crystals instead. If the ground below is also under freezing temperature as well, the ice crystals will fall to the ground as snow. 

Wind is a totally different story.  

Wind comes about because the sun warms areas of the Earth’s surface differently and creates low- and high-pressure systems (trust me, this will make sense soon).  

When the sun warms the air in a certain area it rises high into the atmosphere and drifts toward the cooler north and south poles. This leaves a low-pressure area behind on the surface of the Earth that needs to be filled back in with air. 

Cold air on the surface rushes to fill in the area that is left behind as the warm air rises (that rushing is where wind comes from). The movement of cold air across the Earth is considered a high-pressure system. 

The interplay between pressure systems, air temperature, Earth’s surface temperature, and the water cycle are how all sorts of different storms occur. Under certain conditions these factors can cause hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, blizzards, and more.  

And in other cases, these factors simply give you a good excuse to curl up under a blanket at home with a cup of cocoa and a good book. 

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