The weather portal

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Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. On Earth, most weather phenomena occur in the lowest layer of the planet's atmosphere, the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers to day-to-day temperature, precipitation, and other atmospheric conditions, whereas climate is the term for the averaging of atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time. When used without qualification, "weather" is generally understood to mean the weather of Earth.

Weather is driven by air pressure, temperature, and moisture differences between one place and another. These differences can occur due to the Sun's angle at any particular spot, which varies with latitude. The strong temperature contrast between polar and tropical air gives rise to the largest scale atmospheric circulations: the Hadley cell, the Ferrel cell, the polar cell, and the jet stream. Weather systems in the middle latitudes, such as extratropical cyclones, are caused by instabilities of the jet streamflow. Because Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbital plane (called the ecliptic), sunlight is incident at different angles at different times of the year. On Earth's surface, temperatures usually range ±40 °C (−40 °F to 104 °F) annually. Over thousands of years, changes in Earth's orbit can affect the amount and distribution of solar energy received by Earth, thus influencing long-term climate and global climate change.

Surface temperature differences in turn cause pressure differences. Higher altitudes are cooler than lower altitudes, as most atmospheric heating is due to contact with the Earth's surface while radiative losses to space are mostly constant. Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a future time and a given location. Earth's weather system is a chaotic system; as a result, small changes to one part of the system can grow to have large effects on the system as a whole. Human attempts to control the weather have occurred throughout history, and there is evidence that human activities such as agriculture and industry have modified weather patterns

Studying how the weather works on other planets has been helpful in understanding how weather works on Earth. A famous landmark in the Solar System, Jupiter's Great Red Spot, is an anticyclonic storm known to have existed for at least 300 years. However, the weather is not limited to planetary bodies. A star's corona is constantly being lost to space, creating what is essentially a very thin atmosphere throughout the Solar System. The movement of mass ejected from the Sun is known as the solar wind. (Full article...)

Selected article

Clouds of Jupiter as viewed from the Hubble Space Telescope
(c) ESA/Hubble, CC BY 4.0

The atmosphere of Jupiter is the largest planetary atmosphere in the Solar System. It is mostly made of molecular hydrogen and helium; other chemical compounds are present only in small amounts and include methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and water. Although water is thought to reside deep in the atmosphere, its directly measured concentration is very low. The nitrogen, sulfur, and noble gas abundances in Jupiter's atmosphere exceed solar values by a factor of about three.

The atmosphere of Jupiter lacks a clear lower boundary and gradually transitions into the liquid interior of the planet. From lowest to highest, the atmospheric layers are the troposphere, stratosphere, thermosphere and exosphere. Each layer has characteristic temperature gradients. The lowest layer, the troposphere, has a complicated system of clouds and hazes, comprised of layers of ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide and water. The upper ammonia clouds visible at Jupiter's surface are organized in a dozen zonal bands parallel to the equator and are bounded by powerful zonal atmospheric flows (winds) known as jets. The bands alternate in color: the dark bands are called belts, while light ones are called zones. Zones, which are colder than belts, correspond to upwellings, while belts mark descending gas. The zones' lighter color is believed to result from ammonia ice; what gives the belts their darker colors is uncertain. The origins of the banded structure and jets are not well understood, though a "shallow model" and a "deep model" exist.

The Jovian atmosphere shows a wide range of active phenomena, including band instabilities, vortices (cyclones and anticyclones), storms and lightning. The vortices reveal themselves as large red, white or brown spots (ovals). The largest two spots are the Great Red Spot (GRS) and Oval BA, which is also red. These two and most of the other large spots are anticyclonic. Smaller anticyclones tend to be white. Vortices are thought to be relatively shallow structures with depths not exceeding several hundred kilometers. Located in the southern hemisphere, the GRS is the largest known vortex in the Solar System. It could engulf two or three Earths and has existed for at least three hundred years.

Jupiter has powerful storms, often accompanied by lightning strikes. The storms are a result of moist convection in the atmosphere connected to the evaporation and condensation of water. They are sites of strong upward motion of the air, which leads to the formation of bright and dense clouds. The storms form mainly in belt regions. The lightning strikes on Jupiter are hundreds of times more powerful than those seen on Earth, and are assumed to be associated with the water clouds.

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Did you know (auto-generated) -

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  • ... that all five components of the climate system—air, water, ice, Earth's crust, and life—help determine Earth's average weather?
  • ... that WILS-TV in Lansing, Michigan, featured a singing weather girl and pianist dressed appropriately for the next day's forecast?
  • ... that the 1st Weather Squadron, the 2016 Weather Squadron of the Year, reports on future battlefield weather conditions and assists during natural disasters?
  • ... that actor Carl Weathers agreed to play Greef Karga on the Star Wars television series The Mandalorian on the condition that he direct future episodes of the show?
  • ... that although used as the weather vane of a church, the Söderala vane was probably originally made for a Viking ship?
  • ... that extreme event attribution estimates how much climate change causes weather events, such as the 2021 Western North America heat wave?

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A variety of cirrus and cirrostratus clouds over a field.

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More did you know...

...that the SS Central America was sunk by a hurricane while carrying more than 30,000 pounds (13,600 kg) of gold, contributing to the Panic of 1857?

...that a hurricane force wind warning is issued by the United States National Weather Service for storms that are not tropical cyclones but are expected to produce hurricane-force winds (65 knots (75 mph; 120 km/h) or higher)?

...that the Automated Tropical Cyclone Forecasting System is a software package for tropical cyclone forecasting developed in 1988 that is still used today by meteorologists in various branches of the US Government?

...that a cryoseism is a sudden ground or glacier movement that can occur due to water freezing or ice cracking after drastic temperature changes?

...that BUFR is a binary data format standardized by the World Meteorological Organization for storing observation data from weather stations and weather satellites?

...that the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center issues weather forecasts for conditions that can cause avalanches in the mountains of western Washington and northwestern Oregon?

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Recent and ongoing weather

This week in weather history...

April 13

2014: After skirting the coast of Queensland for two days, Cyclone Ita began moving southeastward over the Coral Sea near Mackay. Ita caused A$1.1 billion in damage in Australia.

April 14

1886: A tornado in Sauk Rapids killed 72 people, making it Minnesota's deadliest on record.

April 15

1956: An F4 tornado killed 25 people in the Birmingham, Alabama area.

April 16

1998: A deadly tornado outbreak struck Tennessee and Kentucky, including a rare F5 tornado that killed 3 people, and another tornado that struck downtown Nashville, Tennessee, killing one person.

April 17

1970: A multi-day tornado outbreak began in the southern High Plains of the United States, including 3 F4 tornadoes in the Texas Panhandle that killed 6 people.

April 18

2014: An avalanche killed 16 Sherpa guides working on Mount Everest.

April 19

2008: Typhoon Neoguri made landfall in Guangdong province of southern China, the earliest tropical cyclone to strike the nation in recorded history.

Selected biography

Vilhelm Bjerknes

Vilhelm Friman Koren Bjerknes ForMemRS (/ˈbjɜːrknɪs/ BYURK-niss, Norwegian: [ˈbjæ̂rkneːs]; 14 March 1862 – 9 April 1951) was a Norwegian physicist and meteorologist who did much to found the modern practice of weather forecasting. He formulated the primitive equations that are still in use in numerical weather prediction and climate modeling, and he developed the so-called Bergen School of Meteorology, which was successful in advancing weather prediction and meteorology in the early 20th century. (Full article...)

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Snow flake

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Cumulus clouds

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The scope of WikiProject Weather is to have a single location for all weather-related articles on Wikipedia.

WikiProject Meteorology is a collaborative effort by dozens of Wikipedians to improve the quality of meteorology- and weather-related articles. If you would like to help, visit the project talk page, and see what needs doing.

WikiProject Severe weather is a similar project specific to articles about severe weather. Their talk page is located here.

WikiProject Tropical cyclones is a daughter project of WikiProject meteorology. The dozens of semi-active members and several full-time members focus on improving Wikipdia's coverage of tropical cyclones.

WikiProject Non-tropical storms is a collaborative project to improve articles related to winter storms, wind storms, and extratropical cyclones.

Wikipedia is a fully collaborative effort by volunteers. So if you see something you think you can improve, be bold and get to editing! We appreciate any help you can provide!

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    Regional Snowfall Index see NWS plus RSI values for almost 600 snowstorms.
    See also WikiProject Meteorology's request page and WikiProject Weather's request page. More topics that are possibly encyclopaedic relating to meteorology may be found at Missing topics about Meteorology. See also: Needed-Class meteorology articles and Needed-Class Weather articles.
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Media files used on this page

The Earth seen from Apollo 17 with transparent background.png
"The Blue Marble" is a famous photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972 by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft en route to the Moon at a distance of about 29,000 kilometers (18,000 statute miles). It shows Africa, Antarctica, and the Arabian Peninsula.
Cyclone Catarina from the ISS on March 26 2004.JPG
Before the year 2004, only two tropical cyclones had ever been noted in the South Atlantic Basin, and no hurricane. However, a circulation center well off the coast of southern Brazil developed tropical cyclone characteristics and continued to intensify as it moved westward. The system developed an eye and apparently reached hurricane strength on Friday, March 26, before eventually making landfall late on Saturday, March 27, 2004.
The crew of the International Space Station was notified of the cyclone and acquired excellent photographs of the storm just as it made landfall on the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina (the storm has been unofficially dubbed “Cyclone Catarina”). Note the clockwise circulation of Southern Hemisphere cyclones, the well-defined banding features, and the eyewall of at least a Category 1 system. The coastline is visible under the clouds in the upper left corner of the image.
Waves in pacifica 1.jpg
Author/Creator: Brocken Inaglory, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Sea Storm in Pacifica, w:California
Drinking water.jpg
Author/Creator: Photo taken by de:Benutzer:Alex Anlicker using a Nikon Coolpix 950., Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Pitná voda - kohoutek
Nuvola apps edu mathematics blue-p.svg
Author/Creator: David Vignoni (original icon); Flamurai (SVG convertion); bayo (color), Licence: GPL
Square root of x formula. Symbol of mathematics.
Social sciences.svg
Author/Creator: , Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Iconic image for social science.
Icon for telecommunications
Waterspout noaa00307.jpg
Waterspouts in the Bahamas Islands.
Author/Creator: Michael Jastremski, Licence: CC BY 1.0
Cumulus clouds in fair weather.
Sandstorm in Al Asad, Iraq.jpg
A massive dust storm cloud (haboob) is close to enveloping a military camp as it rolls over Al Asad, Iraq, just before nightfall on April 27, 2005. DoD photo by Corporal Alicia M. Garcia, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)
Featured article star.svg
(c) Booyabazooka, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Wikipedia featured article star
Vilhelm Bjerknes Bust 01.jpg
Author/Creator: Unknown authorUnknown author, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Image of Vilhelm Bjerknes
Tsunami hazard sign
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Author/Creator: David Vignoni / ICON KING, Licence: LGPL
Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.
EF4 tornado doing damage near Dalton, Minnesota.
Random font awesome.svg
(c) Font Awesome by Dave Gandy - https://fortawesome.github.com/Font-Awesome, CC BY-SA 3.0
Icon extracted from [fortawesome.github.com/Font-Awesome/ Font-Awesome]
Darkgreen flag waving.svg
Author/Creator: TristanBomb, Licence: CC0
A dark green flag.
Cumulus clouds panorama.jpg
Author/Creator: Fir0002, Licence: GFDL 1.2
Cumulus humilis clouds in the foreground and cumulonimbus clouds in the back, taken at Swifts Creek, in the Great Alps of East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.
Lorentzian Wormhole.svg
Author/Creator: Original: AllenMcC.Vector: KES47, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Exact mathematical plot of a Lorentzian wormhole (Schwarzschild wormhole).
Author/Creator: Rastrojo ES) , Licence: LGPL
Part of the Image:Featured stars.png series
Jupiter's swirling colourful clouds.jpg
(c) ESA/Hubble, CC BY 4.0
This image of Jupiter was taken when the planet was at a distance of 670 million kilometres from Earth. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals the intricate, detailed beauty of Jupiter’s clouds as arranged into bands of different latitudes. These bands are produced by air flowing in different directions at various latitudes. Lighter coloured areas, called zones, are high-pressure where the atmosphere rises. Darker low-pressure regions where air falls are called belts. Constantly stormy weather occurs where these opposing east-to-west and west-to-east flows interact. The planet’s trademark, the Great Red Spot, is a long-lived storm roughly the diameter of Earth. Much smaller storms appear as white or brown-coloured ovals. Such storms can last as little as a few hours or stretch on for centuries.
Hurricane Isabel eye from ISS (edit 1).jpg
NASA astronaut Ed Lu took this image of the eye of Hurricane Isabel from the International Space Station at 11:18 UTC on September 13, 2003. At the time of the image, Isabel had weakened to a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, from its peak as a Category 5. The storm was located about 450 miles northeast of Puerto Rico. The camera used was a Kodak DCS760C electronic still camera with a focal length of 180 mm.
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Author/Creator: unknown, Licence:
Snowflake 300um LTSEM, 13368.jpg
Snowflake 300um LTSEM, 13368, Rime frost on both ends of a "capped column" snowflake.
C Puzzle.png
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0