THE CASE OF THE PHENOMENAL WX
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Guest :Tony Perkins
TT: 45 sec
Hello, I'm Tony Perkins, the Meteorologist for ABC's Good Morning America. I try very hard to
give an accurate up to date forecast everyday. But, it's not easy. I rely on Math, Science and Technology. Tune into the NASA Why Files. Watch the tree house detectives as they use tools of Science to unfold the mystery of the Case of the Phenomenal Weather.
TT: 30 SEC.
In The Case Of The Phenomenal Weather, join the tree house detectives as they answer the following questions:
1.) How do clouds form?
2.) What are the three main types of clouds?
3.) What is air pressure?
And remember, when you see this NASA Why Files Logo, it's a sign the answer is near.
WHY FILES OPEN
REE HOUSE SCENE
SCENE 1- One detective working on Setting up roller coaster. Two others walk in
(Jacob) Okay, done.
(R.J.) What are you building?
(Jacob) Oh, I'm trying to build this roller coaster, so we will all be prepared for the Physics Fair.
(Tony) That's right. The Physics Fair At Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. (turn to camera)
Can you believe we get to spend the entire day riding roller coasters and figuring out the physics behind it?
(Tony) Here, use this tool.
(R.J.) I just happen to have my " R" encyclopedia with me.
(Tony) Is he joking?
(Jacob) I don't think so.
(R.J.) Did you know that the Apollo's Chariot drops 210 feet on the first hill?
(R.J.) It reaches top speeds of 73 miles per hour.
( Detective imagining self on coaster)
(Jacob) Hmm, I can see that.
(R.J.) And you experience 26 seconds of weightlessness.
(Jacob) Wow! 26 seconds of feeling like a NASA astronaut! (Detective sees this vision)
(Tony) Are you okay?
(Jacob) Yes, I just can't wait to go to the Physics Fair next week. We're not getting rained out this time. No way!
( Wx Update)
The forecast calls for lots of sun, warm temperatures, and no rain; so get out there and enjoy the nice weather!
In the animation, show a world map with tropics pointed out.
However, down south there is some activity in the Tropics. A tropical wave located several hundred miles off the coast of Africa is moving northwest. Currently, this mass of thunderstorms is very unorganized...so further development is not likely at this time. Our weather team will closely monitor the progress of this system.
This is It's a Downpour reporting for the Weather Channel.
(Back to Tree house)
(RJ.) She didn't say rain!
(Jacob) (Turn to camera) I don't want to miss the Physics Fair again.
I think we need to try to figure out the long-range forecast.
(RJ) We don't need to worry just about our local weather. We also need to worry about the weather in Florida.
(Tony) Especially if we win the environmental contest.
(Jacob) And with the prize being a trip to Florida, we better make sure that the tropical wave isn't heading there.
(Tony) Have you heard if we won?
(Jacob) Not yet, but they will announce it soon. Yes! This is looking better!
(Tony) What are the chances of rain next week?
(R.J.) Weather isn't always predictable. So many different things can change a forecast.
(Jacob) I think we better be on the safe side, let's try to organize what we know. Let's go to the problem board.
(Tony) What do we know?
(Bianca walks in) We know the problem. A tropical wave is now located several hundred miles off the coast of Africa. I heard that on the weather report
(R.J) We also know that right now the tropical wave is not a threat to us.
(Jacob) I'm looking outside.
Sticks head out of tree house.)
No clouds in the sky. That's a good sign.
(R.J.) Sometimes, you see a lot of clouds, but it doesn't rain.
(Bianca) That's true. I never thought of that.
(Jacob) Maybe we need to know more about clouds.
(Tony) I'm looking at the NASA Langley web site. There's a program called S'COOL.
(Bianca) My class participates in that project and it really is so cool! We make weather observations and describe the types of clouds.
(Tony) Let's print a get up and go sheet from the NASA "Why?" Files web site. We can use it to keep track of the questions we ask Dr. Chambers and record her answers.
(Jacob) Yes, it's a great tool. Let's get up and go!
(Lin Chambers/ S'COOL Proj.)
This says Atmospheric Sciences. I think we are going the right way.
We're supposed to meet with Dr. Lin Chambers.
Here we go. Hello Dr.
(Chambers) Tree house detectives.
Right? I've been expecting you.
Thanks for seeing us.
We wanted to learn more about clouds and what they mean.
(Chambers) Do you know how a cloud is formed?
Not really. I always thought it's when the sun sucks up a lot of water. Then the clouds form.
(Chambers) Good guess, but maybe I can explain it to you a little better if I make a cloud for you.
You can make a cloud?
Do we get to go up in an airplane?
(Chambers) No, we can do it right here. First, we'll fill this jar with hot water. You will need about 2. 5 centimeters of water.
( turn to camera)
Psst. 2.5 centimeters is equal to one inch.
Water vapor condensation
(Chambers) Then place some ice cubes on this metal tray and put it on top of the jar. The air in the jar will cool and cause the water vapor in the air to condense.
What does condense mean?
(Chambers) Have you ever been outside on a really cold day? What happens when you breathe?
My breath looks like smoke.
(Chambers) That's condensation. Your breath contains water vapor just like the air. When your warm breath hits the cold outside air, the water vapor in it condenses into small water drops. In the atmosphere, when moist air rises, expands, and cools, the water vapor turns back into a liquid onto the surface of any particles in the air.
Water cycle particles
Oh! That reminds me. We forgot to add particles. Do you see a cloud yet
No. I see water drops forming.
(Chambers) The condensation on the bottom of the tray is not a cloud. We need to add something for the water to condense on. Any ideas?
Umm. Maybe some dust from my room or how about chalk dust.
(Chambers) They might work. We could use a number of things. In the real world it could be sea salt, dust, volcanic aerosols, or man-made pollution. Since I don't have any of those handy, we'll use some smoke from a match. This is the part where you need an adult.
So what will happen?
(Chambers) Let's give it a try.
Oh, I can see the cloud forming!
How do we know that it's not just smoke from the match?
(Chambers) We can shut off the condensation and make the cloud disappear by simply taking the ice away. Want to try it?
Now its back again! (puts ice back on). What happens if we take the lid off.
(Chambers) Give it a try.
The cloud we made looked very wispy, but the clouds in the sky all look so different. Are there different types of clouds?
(Chambers) Yes, there are three main cloud types: cirrus, cumulus, and stratus. Cirrus clouds are high, wispy, clouds that are found at altitudes above 6,000 meters. These clouds are made of ice particles because the temperature at that altitude is very cold.
What are those round puffy clouds that look like cotton candy?
(Chambers) Those are cumulus clouds. They are found at different heights and are usually round with fairly flat bases. They are often seen on dry, sunny days.
What do you call those low clouds that cover the sky?
(Chambers)Those are stratus clouds. Their base is usually found at low levels below 500 meters and form a layer or sheet across the sky.
Do different types of clouds indicate different types of weather?
(Chambers) Well, if you see a monkey-shaped cloud, that only means you have a good imagination, but some clouds do indicate different types of weather. For example, stratus clouds are usually associated with a light rain or drizzle and cirrus clouds can be indicators that a weather front is on the way and rain may be in the forecast.
One of our tree house detectives' class belongs to your cloud club???
(Chambers) (laughs) It's called S'COOL for Student's Cloud Observation On-Line. We have 1,000 schools around the world with students observing clouds. They send their data to a NASA computer,
We're supposed to meet at Dr. D's Lab. I wonder if he has an update on the weather.
After this segment, the tree house detectives should look over their notes on the get up and go sheet and reflect upon what they have learned and how it will help them. See next page:
and their observations are compared to those from CERES instruments flown on satellites.
So students actually help NASA?
(Chambers) Yes. We use the students' data to help us identify clouds that the satellite has trouble seeing. For example, those thin, wispy cirrus clouds are beautiful from the ground but are much harder to detect from space. The S'COOL observations help us figure out how often we are missing that type.
(THD) That is way too "cool." Just think, kids are actually helping NASA.
(THD) Thanks Dr. Chambers.
(Chambers) You're welcome. I am glad that I could help.
(THD) Wow, we got a lot of information from Dr. Chambers. I made a note here that says that clouds can indicate future weather.
(THD) And don't forget about water vapor and condensation. That has to be a big clue because that is how rain is formed.
(THD) I think we need to get back to the tree house and sort this all out.
Dr. D's Lab
(Dr D's Lab)
Hi Dr. D
Dr. D: Hi guys.
We are concerned about missing the Physics Fair because of the storm. We don't want to miss riding those roller coasters.
Can you give us some clues about understanding the Weather?
Dr. D: Sure. Something that you definitely need to understand is energy. There is an electric motor that provides the energy to get the roller coaster car to the top of the first hill; then gravity takes over. What energy source makes weather happen?
Do you mean, what makes the winds blow?
Or raises the water up into the clouds just like the roller coaster was lifted up?
Dr. D: Exactly.
I don't know.
Dr D: I think that you do. It is the same energy source that makes the plants grow.
Oh, it's the Sun.
Yes, I knew that.
Dr. D: As Sun heats the Earth, some areas become hotter than others. It is this uneven heating that produces the wind.
Wind? How can it make wind?
Dr. D: Air always moves from a region of high pressure to an area of low pressure.
Wait a minute, Dr. D. What do you mean by pressure? We haven't learned about that yet.
Dr. D: I guess that I had better slow down a little bit. Air is made up of molecules, like Oxygen and Nitrogen. The molecules are constantly in motion, traveling in straight lines until they bounce off something.
Do you mean that we are being bombarded with molecules right now?
Dr. D: That's right. And when the molecules bounce off something, they apply a force to the object. It's this force on an object that creates what we call air pressure. Let's look at an example. This hemisphere has molecules bouncing off the outside, but I have taken most of the air out of the inside, so there are very few bouncing off the inside. Try to take them apart.
Wow. This is hard. This force you talked about is very real.
Dr. D: If I let the air back into the middle, we now have molecules pushing out as well as pushing in.
Now that the pressure on the inside is the same as that on the outside, it's easy to pull it apart.
Dr D: Let's try something else. I'm going to heat up the air inside this can that has a small amount of water in it. As the water heats, the hot air expands. When I turn it upside down in this pan of water, it will be cooled quickly, and the pressure will drop rapidly.
That's really amazing.
Dr. D: The higher pressure on the outside crushed it--Not because it is colder, but because I have increased the number of molecules. Then when I let go...
Dr. D: It turns out that warm air has less pressure than cold air because it is less dense. There are other ways to change the pressure. When I blow up this balloon, it has more pressure than the outside air, not because it is colder, but because I have increased the number of molecules. Then when I let go...
We knew that was going to happen.
So that's what you meant earlier about air going from a region of higher pressure like the balloon, to a region of lower pressure in the room.
Dr. D: Right, suppose that you are at the beach in the summer. The sand is hot and it warms the air above it. The water is cooler, so the air above it is not as hot and has a higher pressure. What happens?
Well, just like the balloon, the wind will blow in from the high-pressure air over the ocean toward the lower pressure air on the beach.
Very Good, that's called a Sea Breeze.
Here's an update from the Weather Channel.
WX CHANNEL UPDATE :
The tropical wave that we reported earlier has slightly strengthened and become more organized. With maximum sustained winds of 30 mph, this system has been upgraded to a tropical depression. It is currently located at 15 degrees north and 40 degrees West, moving northwest at 20 mph towards the islands of the Lesser Antilles. Residents living in the area should closely monitor the progress of this system.
This is Itsa Downpour reporting from the Weather Channel...have a great weekend.
( Dr. D's Lab)
Here's a map. There's the Antilles Island. ( turn to camera ) I think we should start tracking the storm. Don't you?
Oh, it's far away; we don't need to worry about it.
Yes, we do. It's now a tropical depression. I don't want to miss the Physics Fair or our trip to Florida.
Okay, so where do we go from here?
(Dr. D.) Why don't you visit my friend, Dr. Lyons? He's the lead meteorologist at the Weather Channel.
Dr. Lyons? I have seen him on TV before. He is a hurricane expert.
He sounds like our man.
Don't touch that dial.
Coming up we will announce the names of the contest winners.
Leave the TV on. We can't miss that!
1. Will the tropical depression become a hurricane?
2. Will the clouds help the detectives predict next week's weather?
3. Is water vapor and condensation a clue?
MORE TO COME
TT: 15 SEC
1. Where is the eye of the hurricane located.
2. What is the Coriollis Effect?
3. How does LIDAR tell the amount of water vapor in the air?
KSNN- Good afternoon, I'm Ted Tune.
The Environmental Protection
Agency has named our own local tree house detectives as the winners of the beach clean- up project. Way to go detectives.
(Bianca) I can't believe we won!
(Jacob) And we're going to Sea World in sunny Florida!
(Tony) Now, I'm really worried about that tropical depression. My grandparents live in Florida, and they get a lot of hurricanes.
(Jacob) That's not good, we don't want to miss out on our Sea World trip or the physics fair. We better do more research on weather.
(B) Yeah, especially hurricanes!
WX CHANNEL UPDATE
Itsa Downpor reporting here from the Weather Channel with this storm update. During the past 6 hours, the Tropical Depression has become considerably better organized and has strengthened into Tropical Storm Ichabod. The center of the storm is located near Latitude 13.4 North, and Longitude 38.5 West. Ichabod is moving toward the northwest at 20 mph, with maximum sustained winds near 45 mph. Some strengthening is expected during the next 24 hours, and Ichabod could become a hurricane in a day or two. We will continue to closely watch this storm!
(Tony) What?! Did she say a hurricane?!!!
(Jacob) Yes! We had better start plotting the track of Tropical storm Ichabod.
(Bianca) This is getting serious!
(Tony) Let's look at map. Remember, latitude lines run east and west and they are divided at the equator into North and South, so the storm is located at 13.4 degrees North; that's above the equator.
(Bianca) And Longitude lines run North and South and are divided by the prime meridian into East and West; 38.5 degrees West is right here. The storm is located where the two lines intersect.
(Tony) Right here.
(Jacob) But Sea World is in Orlando, Florida. Do you really think we need to worry about it?
(Bianca) Yes, the variables of our problem are starting to change and it could become a hurricane!
Dr. Lyons See U See Me
(Tony) One variable that is changing is the storm's wind speed. I wonder what makes the wind speeds increase?
(Bianca) It can't be the Sun because a storm has a lot of clouds and rain.
(Jacob) I don't know.
(Tony) Remember what we learned from Dr. D about pressure and how wind is created? I think we need to learn more about hurricanes.
(Bianca) Dr. D said that we should contact Dr. Lyons on the Weather Channel.
(Tony) Let's dial him up and see if he can tell us more about hurricanes.
(Jacob) Hi Dr. Lyons, we are the tree house detectives and Dr. D said that you could help us learn more about hurricanes.
Dr. Lyons: I sure can.
(THD) We saw on the weather update that the storm in the Atlantic Ocean is now a tropical depression. We are worried that the storm is going to affect our trip to Tampa. How do storms grow and become a hurricane.
(Dr. Lyons) First, you need to understand a little about pressure systems and how they are formed here on Earth.
(THD) We learned about air pressure from Dr. D is that the same thing?
(Lyons) Yes, there are two types of air pressure systems, high and low. The uneven heating of the Earth's surface causes them to form.
(THD) So you mean, that's why it is hotter at the equator than it is at the North and South Poles?
(Lyons) That's correct. Once we have this uneven heating from pole to equator, high and low pressure systems are caused by the variation in 2 things. One is the Earth's surface temperature. Different surface types such as forests, water, grass, or rocks have different temperatures. The differences will cause the air to rise or sink, causing high or low-pressure systems.
(THD) What's the second thing?
(Lyons) The Earth's land elevation. Some parts of the Earth are flat and close to the sea while other parts are mountainous. The elevation or the height of the land above sea level varies and this will cause a difference in temperature.
(THD) Do the pressure systems just stay in one place?
(Lyons) No, they often move together from the West to East across the United States. They are pushed along by the prevailing westerlies. As the pressure systems interact with each other, they make our weather.
(THD) So what does high and low-pressure systems have to do with a tropical storm?
(Lyons) There are areas in the tropics that are routinely warmer than other areas. A tropical low-pressure system will form over these warmer land and water areas, and once formed, the tropical lows will most frequently move from East to West.
(THD) I remember we learned in "The Case of the Mysterious Red Light" that the winds in the tropics are called the trade winds and that they blow from the East to the West. Is that why they move in a westerly direction?
(Lyons) Yes, and as the low-pressure area moves across the warm surface of the tropical ocean, it can strengthen by three primary mechanisms. First, the warm tropical water provides the energy for rain and thunderstorms to form in and around the low-pressure system. These thunderstorms heat the air, and as the air is heated, there is a fall in the surface pressure, thus strengthening the low.
(THD) So as the warm air rises, the pressure in the system gets lower?
(Lyons) Something like that. Second, middle and upper atmospheric winds take air away from low-pressure areas and deposit it in high-pressure areas. Thus we end up with very small but intense low-pressure areas and very large but weak high-pressure areas.
(THD) And what's the third way?
(Lyons) The third way happens after a hurricane develops and forms an eye.
(THD) An eye? I know you don't mean a real eye.
Graphic or animation here of how a hurricane works. I have pictures but Dr. Lyons may have an animation already made.
(Lyons) No, the eye of a hurricane is the center of the cloud mass. It is generally the area of lowest pressure in a hurricane. As an eye forms, air sinks. This motion really warms the air in the eye and causes the hurricane to gain a lot of strength.
(THD) Dr. D told us that wind is created when air moves from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. Do the winds of a hurricane increase as the pressure drops?
(Lyons) Yes, typically wind speeds increase toward the eye. Wind speeds can differ from 10 mph on the outer edge of the hurricane to more than 150 mph on the inner edge of the eye wall.
(THD) Is the wind the fastest in the eye?
(Lyons) No, the wind speeds dramatically decrease from the eye wall to the eye. The eye is actually calm.
(THD) Sounds like the place to be in a hurricane.
(THD) Is there a particular time of the year that hurricanes are more likely to form?
(Lyons) Yes, hurricanes mostly form during the months of June to November. This is the time of year that the land and water in the tropics is the warmest, creating perfect conditions for low-pressure systems to form. We call this hurricane season.
(THD) Well, thank you Dr. Lyons for all the information.
(THD) You have given us a lot to think about!
(Dr. Lyons) You are welcome. I am glad that I could help. Be sure to watch the Weather Channel for storm warnings and forecasts. You also might want to visit the NASA "Why?" Files web site's research rack and check out the link to the Weather Channel. You will find more information on hurricanes along with some fun activities.
(THD) We will! Thanks and good-by.
Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry
I just remembered that Dr. D said he is going to MOSI.
MOSI??? Did you say nosey?
No, I said MOSI. It's the Museum of Science and Industry. I wonder if we can meet him there.
Let's call him and find out.
That's a great idea. I would love to go.
Go for it.
I'll check it out with my parents.
Dr. D with Anthony and RJ
Dr. D said he would meet us here at MOSI.
Look, there he is! He is riding a bicycle on a tightrope!
How is he doing that?
Hey Dr. D. How do you keep from falling?
Dr. D: The Laws of Physics make it impossible for me to fall. The huge counterweight below the bicycle makes all the difference.
Are you sure you can trust those laws all the time?
Yes, don't worry about me! I'll meet you by the Hurricane Room as soon as I get off the bicycle.
Graphic here of the number 12 trillion
I've never been in a hurricane before. Are you sure this is safe?
Dr. D: Of course. After we get strapped in, we can experience one of the most tremendous forces of nature. This will be a minimal hurricane, but 74 mph will still be quite an experience. Here we go.
(They all experience the Hurricane)
Wow. That was really amazing. Are you sure that that was just a minimal hurricane?
Dr. D: It's estimated that a really major hurricane with gusts up to about 175 mph can cause about 250 times more property damage than the one that you just experienced.
That's a lot of energy. We learned from Dr. Lyons that the Sun evaporates the water and provides the energy for the hurricane.
Dr. D: That's right, and it turns out that if you condense 1 liter of water from vapor, it gives up enough energy to run a 60-watt lightbulb for about 11 hours. But an average hurricane will condense 20 trillion liters of water every day. That's 20 followed by 12 zeros.
That's a number way too big for me to comprehend.
Dr. D: That's as much energy as all of the world's electrical generating plants produce in 200 days.
Now I'm really impressed. Hurricanes have a lot of energy.
Dr D: Let me show you something else about Hurricanes that is pretty interesting. It turns out the Hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere all have a counterclockwise rotation.
They all do?
Dr. D: That's right. It's because the hurricane is a low pressure region, and when the air in the higher pressure region around it rushes in, it gets bent to the right because of the rotation of the Earth, causing a counterclockwise rotation of the hurricane.
I don't get it. How would the rotation of the Earth make any difference?
Dr. D: We just happen to have a very interesting device here at the Museum that will help us understand how this works. Let's have each of you sit on opposite ends of this board, and I will spin you around. I hope that you don't get too dizzy. (Spin board) Now Bianca toss this Koosh ball over to Catherine.
Bianca: I didn't even come close.
Dr. D: Try it again.
RJ: It really curved to the right after I threw it.
Dr. D: The ball appears to curve for the same reason that the winds bend to the right when they rush in toward the center of the Hurricane. The force that causes this is called the Coriolis effect. This force exists on any rotating system. I see the ball traveling in a straight line, but as you see it on the rotating board, it is really curving.
This is fun; I can stand here all day.
Not me, I'm getting dizzy, I need to get off this thing.
(Turn to Camera) If you like conducting experiments, check out Dr. D's lab on the NASA "Why?" Files web site.
(Jacob) That was so amazing. I could not believe that I was actually in hurricane force winds!
(Catherine) That must have been really a blast.
It was a blast, a blast of wind at 74 mph, but the good thing is it ended. I would never want to be in a real hurricane.
This is Itsa Downpour from the Weather Channel with an important update on Ichabod. In the last 24 hours the storm has strengthened, and it now has maximum sustained winds of 79 mph, making it a category 1 hurricane. Based on satellite information, it is continuing in a northwest direction at 20 mph. The center of the storm is located near Latitude 15.3 North, and Longitude 43.9 West. In a few hours, the US Air Force is expected to send in a reconnaissance aircraft to get an update on Ichabod. Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Watch for the islands of the Lesser Antilles. Stay tuned for updates as we continue to follow this storm.
Oh no, now it's a hurricane! We better get busy and figure this problem out.
I wonder what category 1 means. (turn to camera) Do you know what it is?
I've got it on the map. Near Latitude 15.3 North and Longitude 43.9 West.
Let's go to the problem board.
We know that the tropical depression is now a hurricane.
We know about clouds, and we know that storms are low-pressure systems.
We know that hurricanes generally move from the East to the West and they get bigger with higher winds as they move over warm water.
And we know that water vapor is what feeds a storm.
(Turn to camera) Do you think we need a hypothesis?
(Turn back to THD) OK, I think we need to form a hypothesis
With what we know, I think our hypothesis should be "If the hurricane continues to increase in strength, then it will hit Florida."
It sounds like we need to know if this storm is going to get any stronger.
Dr. Lyons said for us to talk to Dr. Browell with NASA Langley Research Center. He uses LIDAR to tell how much water vapor is in a hurricane.
That's a good idea because we learned that water vapor feeds a storm.
So lets get up and go.
Wait. I just found Hurricane Hunters on the Internet. They actually fly through the hurricanes to gather data.
I think we have found our next two places to go. Let's break into small groups and do some investigating!
Don't forget your Get Up and Go sheet so we can write down everything we learn and share it later.
ED BROWELL--LIDAR Lab
This looks familiar. Remember? We learned about LIDAR during the case of the mysterious red light.
THD--Hi, Mr. Browell, we are the tree house detectives.
Browell--Hi, how can I help you?
THD--We need to know how scientists can predict if a tropical storm is going to get bigger or smaller, and Dr. D said that you might be able to help us.
THD--What exactly is LIDAR?
Browell--LIDAR is an acronym for Light Detection and Ranging. It is an instrument that uses pulsating laser light for probing the atmosphere.
THD--How does it do that?
Browell--On a spectrum, laser light is close to the visible spectrum, so we can see it. It can scatter very small particles and even air molecules in the atmosphere.
THD--We learned how the Sun's light scatters across the sky in our Case of the Mysterious Red light.
Browell--Well, let's take a look at how laser light scatters in the atmosphere.
Need to know what to say here as he demonstrates.
Susan said to have Ed check the first sentence here and make sure it is what he is trying to explain. She reworded it.
THD--Why is one of the LIDAR returns lower than the other?
Browell-We adjust the laser transmitter to measure how much water vapor is absorbed. We then compare how much of the light was absorbed to the unabsorbed amount of light, and that tells us how much water vapor is in the atmosphere.
THD--Does it only measure water vapor?
Browell--We actually put several lasers together to generate the laser pulses needed to measure water vapor, particles, and clouds. Let's go see a complete LIDAR system that has been flown around hurricanes.
THD--This looks really complicated. What does it do?
Browell--This LIDAR system was developed to fly on an airplane at a very high altitude. By flying this LIDAR on an aircraft around a hurricane, we can obtain information on how much water vapor is flowing into the hurricane.
THD-We learned that water vapor feeds the storm.
Browell: Yes that's right. Water vapor is the primary source of energy that drives a hurricane.
THD--Drive??? Like a car?
Browell--No, but knowing the amount of water vapor and how it is distributed will help us to better predict the strength of a storm and even the direction it might go.
THD--Why does NASA want to fly around hurricanes?
Browell--The information we gather from our experiments should improve hurricane predictions. Someday we will even make LIDAR small enough to put on very small planes, unmanned aerial vehicles known as UAV's.
THD-- Why would you want to put LIDAR on such small planes?
Browell-- A UAV will be able fly around a hurricane for several days monitoring what it is doing and this will help us evaluate what measurements need to be made to help make predictions. Someday we also want to put LIDAR in space.
THD-Wow. That would be really awesome. Thanks Mr. Browell. You have been a big help.
Browell--You're welcome. Come back anytime.
Hurricane Hunters continued
1. Will Hurricane Icabod continue to receive water vapor?
2. Will it become a category 2 hurricane?
3. How will its strengthening affect the people living along the coast?
Still to Come
What is probability?
What force holds satellites in orbit around Earth?
How will GIFTS help meteorologists predict storms earlier?
Graphic map plotting location of the hurricane
This is Itsa Downpor from the Weather Channel with the latest update on Hurricane Ichabod. Continuing its northwestward track at 20 mph, the center of the storm is located near Latitude 18 North, and Longitude 53 West. With maximum sustained winds of 108 mph, Ichabod is now a strong Category 2 hurricane. The National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Warning for the northernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles and the Virgin Islands, and a Hurricane watch for the islands of the Bahamas. People in these areas should prepare for this very serious storm. We will continue to keep you posted on further developments.
For the Weather Channel, this is Itsa Downpor.
Wow, the hurricane is moving closer to Florida. I think our hypothesis is correct.
It's getting stronger and closer! Look. I just put the coordinates on the map.
It's still a long way away. I don't think we should jump to any conclusions.
And we learned from the Hurricane Hunters that a category 2 storm can do some major damage.
I wonder if anyone in our "Why?" Files Kids Club has experienced a hurricane.
I don't know, but it would be good to talk to someone who has. Let's check with our club members.
It says here in this hurricane book that wind is not the only thing that causes damage during a hurricane. Water from the storm surge and rain can cause flooding.
What's a storm surge?
When the wind pushes sea water toward the shore, the water piles up, creating a wall of water that can be up to 24 feet high.
Wow, I wouldn't want to be on the beach when that wave hit.
SEE U SEE ME
Make sure the family talks about hurricane preparedness
It also says that tornadoes even occur during a hurricane.
Tornadoes like in the Wizard of OZ?
We're not in Kansas.
(Turn to camera) And I'm not Dorothy.
You don't have to be in Kansas to have tornadoes, even though Kansas is in tornado alley.
Look, I am getting an email back from Jonathan Juarez in Miami. He lived through Hurricane Andrew.
I'm sure he has a lot of information. Let's contact him.
Miami Family Continued
Wow, you would never think that hurricanes could destroy your house.
Yeah, your house and everything you have in it.
( Turn to camera) It would be just my luck to go to Florida and get caught in a hurricane.
I just finished entering our notes that we took at MOSI from our Problem Log. (Turn to camera) You can download your own problem log from the NASA "Why?" Files web site.
We have a lot of new information, I think we need to go to our problem board.
We know the tropical depression is now a hurricane and that storms are low-pressure systems.
We know hurricanes generally move from East to West.
And we know water vapor is the primary source of energy that drives a hurricane.
We need to know more about the chances of the Hurricane hitting Florida.
Where should we go?
Let's go talk to Dr. D. He might be able to help us.
Dr. D's Lab
Hi Dr D. What are you doing?
Dr D: I am working on a tornado box. Your work on Hurricanes inspired me to start this project.
Are tornadoes just mini hurricanes on land?
Dr D: Well, they are similar in some ways because they are both low-pressure systems and have counterclockwise wind patterns; they both have tremendous energy. What can I do for you today?
We are still concerned about whether the Hurricane is going to spoil all our fun. How can we predict where it will hit land?
Dr. D: You have come up with one of the biggest questions meteorologists ask. To answer that, meteorologists try to tell by looking at such questions as where has the hurricane
been, are there any high and low pressure regions that will affect it, and what is the speed and direction of the steering winds?
Yes, they are the winds that push a hurricane along.
That's a lot of variables.
Dr. D: It sure is, and that makes it very difficult to predict. Lets do a little experiment with prediction.
We're pretty good at making predictions.
Dr. D: Well, let's see. Here are a number of objects. I want you to pick them up one at a time and tell me which ones you think will float in water.
This should be easy. I think that this apple will definitely float. I've done bobbing for apples before, and I remember seeing them floating in the bucket. Yep, I was right.
Dr. D: Your past experience has helped you make a prediction. Hurricane forecasters also use past experience. They rely on what previous hurricanes did in similar situations.
OK, I think that this golf ball will float. Oops. It sank.
Dr. D: Try this bowling ball.
Mass and volume
I think that you have made this one too easy. This will definitely sink because it is so heavy. Wow, two in a row wrong. I guess that simply picking them up is not enough to tell. How else can we tell if something will sink or float?
Dr. D: You need to know both the mass and the volume of the objects. If the mass, expressed in grams, is greater than the volume, expressed in milliliters, the object will sink because it is denser than water.
OK, lets try it. This potato has a mass of 150 grams. But how are we going to find the volume?
Dr. D: Let's put the potato on this screwdriver and push it into this beaker of water. The level is 200 millimeters now, and after I put it in, the level is 325.
That's 125 mm higher than before, so the potato's volume is 125 mm.
That means it will sink because the mass is greater than the volume.
Dr. D: Very good. Let's try it. Yes indeed, it did sink. What if one or both of your measurements wasn't done carefully?
Don't look at me. I'm always careful.
If a measurement isn't accurate, you can't make a good prediction.
Dr. D: That's right. In science many things can be precisely predicted as long as you have good data. The problem is that with hurricanes there are so many variables it is a very complex problem. Even if we could measure all the variables precisely, we are not completely sure how they fit together.
So what do they do?
Dr. D: Instead of being able to make an "exact" prediction, all that weather forecasters can do is to talk about probabilities.
We need to know more about probabilities.
Dr. D: OK. Let's look at an example. When I flip this coin, will it come up heads or tails?
We don't know.
Dr. D: That's because it's a random event. But what's the likelihood that it will come up heads?
I guess that it will come up heads about half of the time.
Dr. D: Yes, we say that the probability of it coming up heads is 50%. Let's try it.
I get heads, now tails, now tails again, and tails again. Wait a minute, it isn't heads half the time.
Dr. D: Probability just says that if you do a lot of trials, that it will average out to be 50%. Keep flipping it for a while and let's see.
Yes, it's looking better.
I think I remember the weathermen on the TV saying last week that there was a 60% probability of rain. Does that mean it will rain for 60 % of the day?
No, I think it means that if you had 10 similar days, it would rain on 6 of them.
Dr. D: I think that you are catching on. Hurricane forecasters will give the most probable landfall time and location. They also try to predict the strength of the hurricane. The more confident they are, the higher the percentage of the probability.
But can't some of the variables change after they make a prediction?
Dr D: You bet. That's the problem. For example, if the hurricanes steering winds slow down slightly, and the hurricane stalls over very warm water, that might not only change the time of landfall, but it might let the hurricane gain in strength.
So how do they get exact measurements?
And how many variables do you have to measure?
Dr. D: Hold on. Weather satellites are great tools for tracking hurricanes and making predictions. Why don't you talk to Anita Rapp over at NASA Langley Research Center to find out more about what kind of data they gather and how they help forecasters make predictions.
Anita Rapp Satellites
THD--Hi, Ms. Rapp. Thank you for meeting with us.
Rapp-You're welcome. Okay, what's the problem?
THD--We need to find out more about how weather data is collected.
THD--Yeah, we're worried about Hurricane Ichabod in the Atlantic Ocean, and we want to make sure it doesn't ruin our trip to Florida.
Rapp-That wouldn't be good. Well, weather data is collected in many ways, but one way is by a weather satellite.
THD--What is a satellite?
Rapp--A satellite is an object that is man made and put into orbit around a planet to gather data all around the globe. It helps improve weather forecasting.
THD--That's just what we need!
THD-- How do satellites get into space?
Rapp--They are launched into orbit on rockets and sometimes the space shuttle takes them up.
THD--OK, but how do they stay up there? Why don't they fall back to Earth?
Rapp--Satellites stay in orbit around a planet by a force called gravity. Here, let's do an experiment. I have a ball with a string attached to it. Pretend you are the Earth and hold the string. Now begin to whirl the ball over your head.
THD--This is cool, but satellites don't have strings attached to them do they?
Rapp--No. Gravity IS the "string" that holds the satellites in orbit. By swinging the ball, you are giving it forward motion or momentum, just like the rockets do for the satellites. If the string was not acting on the ball, it would fly off in one direction.
THD--Oh, I get it. So if we didn't have gravity, the satellites would fly off into space.
Rapp--Very good. When the momentum and gravity are equal, the satellite stays in orbit.
THD--I saw on the NASA Langley web site that NASA has geostationary satellites. What does geostationary mean?
Rapp-If you break apart the word, you have geo, which means, "Earth" and stationary, which means, "fixed at a point." A geostationary satellite orbits at a speed that matches the speed of Earth's rotation, so it always stays above the same latitude and longitude.
THD--Are there other kinds of satellites?
Rapp-Yes there are lots of different types of satellites, but the two main ones used for weather forecasting are geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites that constantly circle the Earth in an almost north-south orbit.
THD--Why are polar-orbiting satellites important?
Rapp: Unlike geostationary satellites that only see the same portion of the globe all the time, they cover the entire globe.
THD-How many weather satellites are there?
Rapp--Counting ONLY geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites, we have about 18. However, there are about 2,671 satellites in space.
THD--Wow! That is a lot of satellites. They must be pretty important.
Rapp-Yes, they are and especially weather satellites, which allow us to monitor and track the development and movement of storms.
THD--Are they just used for hurricanes and tropical storms?
Rapp--No, they are also used to help meteorologists forecast our local weather, including estimates of rainfall, snowfall, and even wind speeds. This can help meteorologists issue warnings for thunderstorms and hurricanes. They also help us learn more about the climate and any changes that may occur over time.
THD--Thanks Ms. Rapp. We can see now that meteorologists get a lot of help in collecting data from satellites.
Rapp--You're welcome. If you want to learn about a really cool satellite that will be launched in the future, you need to go see Bill Smith.
THD--He sounds like he's our man. Thanks!
Dr. Bill Smith
(THD) Hi, Dr. Smith. We're the tree house detectives, and we hear that you are working on a new satellite that will help predict the weather more accurately.
(Bill) That's right. Its called GIFTS.
(THD) GIFTS? You mean like a present?
(Bill) No, GIFTS is an acronym that stands for Geostationary Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer. More simply, it is a digital camera that will be placed on a satellite that orbits the Earth.
(THD) We learned about geostationary from Ms. Rapp.
(THD) Why does this satellite need to stay in the same spot?
(Bill) The geostationary position of the camera enables us to make 3-D movies of the atmosphere.
(THD) Do you need to wear 3-D glasses to see them?
(Bill) No, it's not that kind of movie.
(THD) Why is 3-D important?
(Bill) Most geostationary satellites are 2-dimensional, but GIFTS adds a third dimension of altitude. Now we can also tell the height of the storm. 3-dimensional data such as temperature, water vapor, and wind data will be fed into computer models. This will greatly improve the accuracy of weather, climate, and air pollution forecasts.
(THD) I think it would be very important to know about storms as soon as possible. Will GIFTS help meteorologists predict storms earlier?
(Bill) Yes, unlike other satellite instruments, GIFTS will be able to observe the upward spiraling motion of the air molecules and alert meteorologists that a hurricane or a tornado is about to form, even before they are visible on radar or other satellite pictures.
(THD) How will this help us?
(Bill) Meteorologists will be able to send out very early warnings and tell people where to go to avoid the storm.
(THD) So we would know not to go to Florida way before the storm even gets there.
(THD) Is it only used for forecasting a storm's formation?
(Bill) No, it will also be able to tell us how clean the air we breathe is. GIFTS will also help meteorologists to predict where storms will go after they develop helping people living in harms way to be warned more in advance.
(THD) That will be good. I wish we had it now because we need to know about Hurricane Icabod and where it is heading.
(THD) How will it be able to predict the path of a hurricane?
(Bill) GIFTS can see the motion of air molecules and clouds at different altitudes in the atmosphere. It provides a measure of the atmospheric winds that steer the storm's movement. In other words, the winds tell us where the storm will go. Given the speed and direction of the wind, we can predict the future position of a hurricane can be predicted.
(THD) We talked to a family in Miami who went through Hurricane Andrew, and their home was destroyed. I wonder if GIFTS could have helped them?
(Bill) Most definitely. The earlier we can warn people, the better they can prepare for the storm. Early predictions will help save lives and reduce property damage. It can even save millions of dollars.
(THD) Wow, how can it do that?
(Bill) For each mile of coastline that receives a hurricane warning, over a million dollars is spent preparing for the hurricane.
(THD) So if you know exactly where a hurricane is going to land, fewer people would have to spend money preparing for it.
(Bill) Right. The average error prediction that landfall will occur within 24 hours is about 125 miles. So if we are able to reduce it to even a small 10% improvement, how many miles would that be?
(THD) 10% of 125 is 12 1/2 miles.
(THD) That would be 12 1/2 million dollars!
(Bill) That's correct, and we expect much greater improvements.
(THD) That is really going to be awesome.
(THD) But I wish you had it right now so we could figure out if the hurricane is going to be anywhere near Sea World in Florida or the physics fair!
(Bill) I'll let you know when we get close, but it won't be in the next couple of weeks.
(THD) Thanks Dr. Smith.
(Bill) You're welcome. Come back anytime.
1. Will satellites help the tree house detectives predict where the storm is heading?
2. Do you think there is a strong probability that the storm will hit Florida?
3. Should the area be evacuated?
Still To Come
TT: 15 sec.
1. How are hurricanes named?
2. What is the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning?
3. How can past hurricanes help to predict the track of future hurricanes?
What are you doing?
I almost have this roller coaster fixed.
That's so cool. And soon we'll be learning the physics behind the coaster.
Yes, in just a few days we will be enjoying the physics fair in beautiful sunny weather. Thank goodness that hurricane is not strengthening very fast.
Don't forget, we still have to worry about our trip to Florida next week.
I'm just missing one last part. Can I get some help?
Not right now. I'm reading this book on hurricanes.
Maybe, if we knew something about past hurricanes, we could predict future hurricanes.
That's a good idea. Let's watch Dr. Text book. He has a segment on the History of Hurricanes.
Susan questions the number 8,000 please verify.
Today our lesson is about the History of Hurricanes or as they are also known, typhoons, cyclones, and willy-willies.
Did you know that it wasn't until 1953 that US scientists, like me, even gave hurricanes names?
And of course, it was ladies first. The first tropical storm ever named was a woman's name that began with the letter A. The next storm began with B and so on and so on. You get the picture.
In 1979 they decided to add men's names to the list. It was only fair.
Names repeat every six years, but if a storm is really violent, then that name is taken off the list and never used again.
The great Galveston Hurricane was the worst natural disaster in the U.S.
On September 8, 1900, the hurricane pounded Galveston Island in Texas, killing 8,000 residents.
The hurricane packed winds of up to 125 mph.
26-hundred homes were wiped out, and three quarters of the city was left in ruins.
On August 26, 1992, Hurricane Andrew hit South of Miami with winds up to 195 miles an hour.
It traveled west, cutting a 25 mile wide path through the Everglades National Park. And there's more.
Andrew left a devastating path of destruction, 62 people died, 25,000 homes were destroyed, and another 100,000 damaged.
But, the South East Coast isn't the only home for hurricanes.
3- weeks after Andrew, Hurricane Iniki . ( ee-Nee-kee) Iniki stands for sharp and piercing, barreled down on the island of Kauai. Its winds gusted up to 160 mph.
That's more than twice the speed of this room.
Twice the speed of this room?
Should I try it?
Not a very good idea.
( Laughing) Scary. See you Dr. Textbook.
(Turn to Camera) If you would like to learn more cool facts about hurricanes, visit the NASA "Why?" Files web site and open a trivia book on the Research Rack.
Hurricane Andrew had winds of 195 mph, but the Galveston hurricane only had winds of 125 mph. I wonder why the smaller hurricane did so much damage and so many more people died?
Maybe they didn't have weather satellites back then, and people didn't know the hurricane was coming.
I am glad we have lots of satellites now! Technology is a wonderful thing!
Well, those are hurricanes of the past, but we still don't know how to predict the probability of this hurricane coming to Florida.
I wonder how you can figure that out?
Have you ever heard of the Hurricane game?
It's says that you have to predict landfall in the game.
Sounds like a game we need to play.
(Cut to Kids Club.)Some of the Why Files club members in Vero Beach, Florida are playing the game right now.
Let's dial them up and ask them about it.
Thompson Elementary School
Vero Beach, Florida
(Students 1 and 2) Hi, I am ______ and I am ________ and we are both in Mrs. Srigley's 5th grade class at Thompson Elementary School in Vero Beach, Florida. How can we help you?
(THD) Hi, we're the tree house detectives. We are trying to find out more about how meteorologists predict the path of a hurricane. Do you think your game could help us?
(Student 1) It sure can. The hurricane game gives our class the experience of tracking a hurricane and predicting its possible landfall.
THD: How do you track the hurricane in your game? You don't have a weather satellite in your room do you (laughs)?
(Student 2) No! We use a tracking chart that has lines of longitude and latitude labeled on it. Throughout the game, we are given coordinates of where the eye of the storm is located at different times. As we continue to mark these coordinates, we can see the movement (track) the storm is taking.
(Student 1) We are also given conflicts that occur during the storm. That makes it really interesting!
(THD) What do you mean by landfall?
(Student 1) Landfall is where a hurricane is expected to strike land.
(Student 2) Knowing where a storm will strike can help people prepare for a hurricane and help save lives.
(THD) And money! (turn to camera)
(Student 1) In the game we issue watches and warnings to land areas that are in the path of the hurricane, just like real meteorologists.
(THD) What is the difference between a watch and warning?
(Student 2) A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.
THD: All that sounds pretty easy. It seems that tracking a hurricane is a "breeze!" If you know what I mean.
(Student 2) Well, it's not quite that simple. Unlike a game, a real hurricane's track is affected by a lot of different forces found in nature. So the probability of a hurricane striking a certain area is based on a lot of different factors.
THD: Right! We learned earlier about probability and that scientists and meteorologists collect a lot of data to help them make their predictions as accurate as possible.
THD: What are some of the forces that affect a hurricane's path?
Student: Oops! Sorry, but I have to go. The hurricane in our game is heading right for Cuba! We have a hurricane watch to issue right away! But to answer your question, there are some people at NOAA that could definitely help you.
THD: Well, thank you so much for your valuable help!
Student: No problem! So long from the Why Files Kids Club in the Sunshine State of Florida.
ICON FOR NOAA
(THD) It looks like NOAA is our next stop.
(THD) Yes, we need to learn more about the forces that can affect the path of the hurricane.
(THD) I'll contact them and see if they can help us.
(THD) Don't forget to take the Get Up and Go sheet.
(NOAA) Hi, you must be the tree house detectives. Glad you could come. How can I help you guys?
(THD) We are concerned about the hurricane that is in the Atlantic Ocean. We have a trip planned to Sea World that we don't want to miss, so we need to learn more about how to predict where a hurricane will hit land.
(NOAA) Well, you have come to the right place. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA began in 1970 to help track and forecast weather and weather patterns. (could he provide a little background of what NOAA is??)
(THD) We learned that to make predictions we sometimes use information we already know. In predicting the path of a storm, do you ever use the tracks of past storms?
(NOAA) Yes. In short terms such as days or hours, one storm's track may determine the path of a storm that follows it. A hurricane churns the ocean as it passes over the ocean's surface, bringing cold water from the bottom to the top.
(THD) Oh I get it. We learned that a storm needs warm water to gain energy, so if the water on the surface is cold, the storm won't grow as big.
(NOAA) That's correct. You have done your research. In terms of days or weeks, we use computers to show us the track that hurricanes have taken as a guide to where a current storm may go. We ask the computer to show storms that occurred during the same time of year as the current storm and the computer makes a "statistical computer model."
(THD) We know about models, but was are "statistics?"
Graphic here showing motion of high and low pressure systems swirling and deflecting
(NOAA) Statistics are a collection of numbers, a measure of one thing among many similar things.
(THD) How do the statistics from previous storms in history help you today?
(NOAA) Historical records of hurricanes go back to about 1492, the time of Christopher Columbus. In analyzing the data, scientists have found that about every 10 to 30-years, hurricanes appear to come in different numbers. This is called a decadal scale. Scientists study this record and they can figure out where we are in the cycle. On average the Atlantic Ocean has about 6 hurricanes a season.
(THD) That's a lot of hurricanes.
(NOAA) Yes, it is and fortunately, not all of them develop into strong storms. Some don't even make landfall.
(THD) We were wondering if a high-pressure system might keep a hurricane from coming on land.
(NOAA) It is possible. Think of a hurricane as a block of wood floating in a river. Where the river's currents go, so goes the block of wood. A hurricane is a storm in a river of air, which moves around the globe. The currents in this river of
Graphic here showing quadrant
air are replaced by areas of high and low pressure. Since air circulates clockwise around a high-pressure system, a storm approaching it might be turned to the south or southwest.
(THD) If the hurricane does make landfall, how much land will be affected?
(NOAA) It depends on the size of the storm. Most storms are about the size of a state, 200-300 miles across. The most destructive part of the hurricane is toward the center near the storm's eye, which is about 30-50 miles in diameter. However, in the Pacific Ocean there are monster storms that are 1,000 miles in diameter.
(THD) Why are they so much bigger than the storms in the Atlantic Ocean?
(NOAA) The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean so there is a lot more warm water for them to move over, feeding their growth.
(THD) Is there more damage on one side of the storm versus the other?
(NOAA) Yes, a hurricane is the strongest on its front right quadrant because a hurricane rotates counterclockwise, and the speed a hurricane travels must be added to its wind speed. So the right front quadrant is moving faster toward you.
(THD) I don't think we want to be on that side of the storm for sure. Thanks Mr. This helps a lot.
(NOAA) Any time. Good luck with your trip to Florida.
KSNN: Weather Report
This is Itsa Downpor from the Weather Channel. Let's take a look at what's happening down south with the latest on Hurricane Ichabod. The storm's eye is currently at Latitude 22 North and Longitude 64 West, or about a hundred miles north of the Virgin Islands. Contrary to yesterday's forecast, Ichabod has weakened slightly over the last 24 hours. Strong winds in the upper atmosphere have caused the storm to become slightly less organized. However, this is still a dangerous storm. A Hurricane Warning is now in effect for the islands of the Bahamas, and there's a Hurricane Watch for Florida.
Now let's take a look at an interesting weather development happening here at home. There is a high-pressure system over the central part of the United States. It is moving toward the southeast.
Meteorologists are looking at the potential of this system to help push Hurricane Ichabod towards the northeast and out into the open ocean. This would be great news! As always, we will keep you posted on this continually changing weather situation For the Weather Channel, this is Itsa Downpor.
(THD) Well, that might be the answer to our problem.
(THD) I think we need to change our hypothesis.
(THD) Because we now have a high-pressure system that might help keep the hurricane away.
(THD) So what's our new hypothesis?
(THD) I think it should be "If the high-pressure system moves to the Southeastern part of the United States, then the hurricane will not hit Florida.
(THD) I don't want to take my chances and go to Florida. Dr. Dr. D knows a lot about pressure, so I think we should go and talk to him.
Wait, I have this fixed. Here's my roller coaster ride!
Dr. D's Lab
Hi Dr. D.
(Dr. D) Hi Guys. I've got my Tornado Box finished. Do you want to see it?
What's the probability that it will work?
(Dr. D) I think that you've been studying hurricanes too long.
(Dr. D shows the kids how the Tornado Box operates)
That's really interesting. How does it work?
Dr D: In this case, it isn't the Coriolis Force that causes the spinning. The fan pushes air out the top hole, and air rushes in from the sides through these slots to form the vortex or tornado shape. So what's up?
We think that everything is going to be OK with our trip to Florida.
Dr. D: How do you know?
Well, let's start with clouds. We learned about how clouds form as warm moist air rises and cools. As it cools, the water condenses to form clouds. It's this condensation that gives energy to the Hurricane.
Dr. D: Do you know why air cools when it rises?
No. I hadn't thought about it.
Dr D: Well, as the moist air rises to a higher altitude with less pressure, it expands. Expansion is a cooling process. Let me show you. Breathe on your hand like this. (Blows open mouthed)
That feels pretty warm.
Dr. D: Now blow through your lips like this, so that the air has to expand.
Neat. It's cooler.
Dr. D: Isn't science wonderful? Well, I'm sorry I interrupted. Keep going.
We've been watching the Hurricane very carefully and plotting its location on our Hurricane tracking chart.
It's now a Category I storm. That's just a minimal hurricane, but from what we experienced at the Hurricane Room at MOSI, we know we sure don't want to be in even 74-mph winds.
We know that in our part of the world, hurricanes form in the tropical Atlantic waters and then move to the west.
Dr. D: That's right. They are pushed along by the Trade Winds.
It's really hard to predict what a hurricane will do. There are so many variables, but there is lots of new technology like weather satellites that help gather data on these variables.
And the data is much more precise than years ago.
And don't forget the supercomputers we can use to analyze all the data.
Dr. Browel told us how LIDAR measures the amount of water vapor in a hurricane.
That's important because the amount of water vapor helps determine the strength of the storm.
Don't forget what the Hurricane Hunters are able to find out about Hurricanes.
We learned that there are a lot of factors used to predict the probability of landfall.
But we think that the key in this case is a High Pressure region in the southeast part of the United States that is going to block the approach of the storm.
What do you think Dr. D?
Dr. D: It sounds like you have really worked hard on this. A high-pressure region can certainly affect the path of a hurricane, but once again, remember that all we can do is talk about probabilities. You can't know for sure.
OK. We think that there is a high probability that the high-pressure region will keep the storm offshore, so we've decided to go to Florida.
Dr. D: I certainly hope that you are right. I was going to go to a conference in Florida, but I decided to stay here. However, I wish you luck.
KSNN Weather Report
Well, OK, but you are going to miss out on some nice warm weather.
(Dr. Dr) That's OK, I am not taking any chances. Have fun.
This is Will B. Sunnie from the Weather Channel filling in for Itsa Downpor. The last day and a half have been quite active in the weather arena, with some new developments concerning Hurricane Ichabod! About 12 hours ago, the eye of the storm was tracking northwestward, but if you remember, a high-pressure system in the southeast was quickly moving towards the hurricane's path. When these two weather systems collided, the ridge of high pressure caused the storm to curve its track to a northeasterly direction.
Cut away to Dr. D outside holding an umbrella in the cold wet rain.
Therefore, the Hurricane Watch has been discontinued for Florida, while the Bahamas are expected to receive only some heavy rain and strong winds as the eye of Ichabod passes well to the east and moves out into the open Atlantic.
This is great news for the people living in those areas.
Too bad Dr. D didn't go to his conference. The weather is perfect. Sunny skies, no rain, and the temperature are just right.
Yes, just like it was for the physics fair. We have been very lucky to have such great weather for both!
I wonder how the weather is in Virginia?
Dr. D: I should have taken my chances and gone to Florida!
(THE CASE OF THE PHENOMENAL WX 5/21/02 104