From the most extreme weather ever recorded on Earth to a strange phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s Fire we take a look at 20 shocking weather facts you probably don’t know.
20. You can tell the temperature by listening to a cricket chirp. Dolbear’s law, published by Amos Dolbear in 1897, uses the following formula to calculate the air temperature in fahrenheit (TF) using the number of chirps a cricket makes per minute (N).
19. Cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons are all the same weather phenomenon. The name of the event depends on where it occurs. Cyclones only occur in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, hurricanes in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific and typhoons in the Northwest Pacific.
18. The longest recorded hurricane lasted for 31 days. Because it moved from the Northeast Pacific into the Northwest Pacific and back again, its status changed from a hurricane to a typhoon and back to a hurricane.
17. The hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth occurred on the 13th September, 1922, in Al’Aziziyah, Libya. It reached a sweltering 58°C (136.4 F).
16. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth occurred on the 21st July, 1983, at the Vostok Station, Antarctica. It fell to an icy -89.6°C (-129.28 F).
15. A lightning bolt can travel at speeds up to 218 871 km/h (136 000 mph) and reach temperatures of 30 000 Celsius (54 032 F). That is hotter than the sun!
14. You are far more likely to be struck by lightning twice than you are of winning Powerball. According to CBS, you have a 1 in 12 000 chance of being struck by lightning once. A 1 in 9 million chance of being struck twice and about a 1 in 292 million chance of winning Powerball.
13. The phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s fire occurs when there is a discharge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field often during a thunderstorm. The electric field causes ionization of the air molecules which produces a blue flame like light. It can be seen on tall pointed objects like a church steeple or the mast of a ship but has even been witnessed on blades of grass and the tips of cattle horns. The phenomenon is usually only visible in low light.
12. An electric field like the one produced during a thunderstorm may cause some objects to emit a buzzing sound and a person’s hair to stand on end. These can be signs that a lightning strike is imminent. Michael and Sean McQuilken, the two brothers pictured here in this photo witnessed the phenomena first hand just moments before a lightning strike struck Sean and killed another mountain climber on Moro Rock in California’s Sequoia National Park in 1975.
11. The wettest place on Earth is Mawsynram, India. It receives an amazing 11 metres (36.09 feet) of rainfall every year.
10. The driest place on Earth is Antofagasta, Chile. It only receives a miserly 0.1 mm (0.004 inches) of rainfall every year.
9. The Kerala red rain phenomenon occurred in the Indian state of Kerala from 25th July to 23rd September, 2001. Blood red rain fell from the sky in heavy downpours, staining clothes pink. Initially, it was thought the red rain may have been caused by a burst meteor but it was later discovered that the rain got its unusual colour from a type of local algae.
8. The strongest wind ever to be recorded occurred on Mt Washington, New Hampshire, USA. It reached a toupee loosening 371.8 km/h (231 mph).
7. The biggest ever hailstones ever recorded fell in Bangladesh on 14th April, 1986. They weighed in at over 1kg (2.2 lbs) each and killed 92 people!
6. A waterspout is a columnar vortex of water similar to a tornado that forms by rotating air, usually over tropical water. Occasionally a waterspout is so strong it can pick up aquatic life such as fish, frogs and even turtles and lift them high into the air. The animals can then be carried in the clouds, kept aloft by the wind. Eventually these animals fall to the ground, many still alive. Though not a common occurrence, people have experienced raining fish up to 160 kms (100 miles) inland.
5. Tropical storms are given names from an alphabetically ordered list determined by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). The names can only be repeated after six years but if a storm causes large amounts of destruction the name is retired permanently and a new name starting with that letter is added to the list. This system was invented to easily distinguish different storms happening at the same time in different parts of the world.
4. The world’s largest snowflake fell in Fort Keogh, Montana, USA, on 28th January, 1887. It was recorded at a staggering 38 cm wide and 20 cm thick.
3. The town of Yuma, Arizona, USA is the sunniest place on Earth. It has a pleasant 4 000 hours of sunshine per year.
2. In the 17th and 18th century, extremely cold winters hit the UK. The period became known as the Little Ice Age and it was so cold that in 1684 the River Thames froze solid for two months.
1. On 14th April, 1935, a dust storm hit the US that was so severe that many people suffocated from dust filling their lungs. Oklahoma and Texas were the worst states to be hit in an area known as America’s Dust Bowl. Black Sunday, as it was later named was the result of a combination of events – drought, high winds and over farming that had left the land bare created a giant dust cloud that was estimated to have displaced 300 million tons of topsoil from the area.
That was 20 shocking weather facts you probably don’t know. Were there some weather facts listed here that you knew about? Let us know!