How To Predict a Storm

There are several existing works of art that were inspired by the concepts associated with Storms. From Beethoven's pastoral Symphony and Vivaldi's Four Seasons, to literary works of Shakespeare such as his play The Tempest, and a number of pieces of visual art by seascape painters Turner and Aivazovsky created dramatic popular views on storms. Of these artistic presentations, storms have been regarded as a strong force of nature that signify danger.

A storm is essentially a disturbance of the earth's atmosphere and surface characterized by strong forces of wind, thunder and lightning, ice storms, blizzards, firestorms, tropical cyclones and tornadoes and other rare natural occurrences. Due to its highly destructive nature, predicting these storms has been one of mankind's primary concerns.

Since time immemorial, our ancestors believed themselves to have found ways to beat a storm from wreaking havoc on their crops. They relied on observing signs from nature, patterns of animal behavior and even folklore to avoid danger. However ancient their methods are, they seemed to have survived even the toughest of these storms, so knowing how they did it may help us as well.

Here's a simple guide on how to predict if there is an upcoming storm:

  1. Check the clouds. If you see cumulonimbus clouds at an early time of day, it may be safer to be prepared. It may be best to re-schedule camping plans or a walk in the park. Cirrus and altocumulus clouds that appear as feathery strips of clouds signify bad weather within the next 36 hours.
  2. Look for patterns of animal behavior. A rule of thumb is, if the birds are flying low, it means their ears are hurting from the forming air pressure at high altitudes, thus the formation of a storm. Ants tend to build their hills to a greater steepness. Cats lick behind their ears just before rain. Cows either stay close to each other or lie down before bad weather.
  3. Grass dews in the morning. Unless it rained the night before, checking the grass for dew is also a way to tell if there's going to be rains that day. If the grass is dry, it may mean a rainy day.

There are existing governmental departments around the world like the National Weather Service in the United States that use digital and grid-formatted storm forecast products. Their acquired forecasts are then stored in their mainframe database called the national Digital Forecast Database (NDFD). Many other privately-owned weather firms are using the same information stored on this database like temperature, cloud cover, humidity, probabilities of precipitation, and wind direction. These data are viewable via the Internet through its department, the Storm Prediction Center. You can easily get free forecasts through their website using a user-friendly point-and-click forecasting method.

Today, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center are looking at a possible storm prediction mechanism through satellite observation of cloud temperatures. They are now seeing a huge 45-minute boost in early detection of storms using their designed computer algorithms. On storm predictions, every minute matters and such development is a sure way to save properties and lives.


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