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Weather Glossary from A to Z

Updated: 08/02/2011 @ 10:19am

Find out what some commonly used weather terms mean.

Absolute humidity: The mass of water vapor in a given volume of air.
Advection: Horizontal movement of any meteorological property, such as warmth or humidity.
Advection fog: Fog formed by warm, humid air flowing over cool ground or water.
Air mass: A large body of air with uniform characteristics like temperature and humidity.
Apparent temperature: A measure of the danger to human health of various combinations of high temperature and high humidity.
Barometer: A device that measures air pressure.
Beaufort Wind Scale: Scale used to classify wind speed, devised in 1805 by British Admiral Francis Beaufort to classify winds at sea.
Blizzard: Snow falling with winds faster than 35 mph and visibility of 1/4 mile or less over an extended time period.
Climate: Average weather over a long time period, usually 30 years.
Cold front: A warm-cold air boundary with the cold air advancing.
Condensation: The change of a vapor to liquid.
Conduction: Transfer of heat within a substance or from one substance to another by molecular action.
Convection: Transfer of heat by the movement of the heated material. In meteorology, the up and down air motions caused by heat.
Cyclone: An area of low-atmospheric pressure with winds blowing around it, counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
Derecho: Wind storms created by thunderstorms during which winds blow in straight lines.
Dew: Water droplets formed by condensation of water vapor.
Dew point: Measure of humidity given in terms of temperature at which dew will start to form.
Doppler radar: Radar that measures speed and direction of a moving object, such as wind.
Downburst: Wind blasting down from a thunderstorm or shower.
Dryline: A boundary between warm, dry air and warm, humid air along which thunderstorms form, often found on the southern Plains.
El Nino: Linked ocean and atmospheric events, which have world-wide effects, characterized by warming of water in the tropical Pacific from around the International Date Line to the coast of Peru.
Freezing rain: Supercooled raindrops that turn to ice when coming in contact with an object.
Front: Boundary between air masses of different densities, and usually different temperatures.
Frost: Water vapor turning to ice on an object.
Funnel cloud: A rotating column of air extending from a cloud, but not reaching the ground.
Glaze: A coat of smooth ice that is created when super cooled drops of water spread out before freezing.
Graupel: Form of ice created when supercooled water droplets coat a falling ice crystal.
Ground fog: A layer of fog, often less than 200 feet high, that forms when the ground cools.
Heat lightning: Glowing flash in clouds.

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