In this day and age of advanced technology, there is a great deal that the human race can control. However there is one thing that we can often predict, but can never control – and that’s the weather. The weather is a law unto itself – it can create warmth and happiness one day, and death and destruction the next. Okay, we all love warm, sunny days, and you can bet your bottom dollar that on special occasions the grey clouds will suddenly appear and the heavens will open up, but this isn’t really the type of weather that we need to worry about.
For many people, the definition of a storm is a little wind, rain, and perhaps a clap or two of thunder. But surprisingly, some people have never come across a real storm – one that can result in huge amounts of damage and even death. There are many different types of storm and other dangerous weather conditions, and we probably hear about them practically every day, occurring at a location that is at the other side of the world. Below is a list of some of the types of dangerous weather that are experienced in areas around the world every year.
Blizzards: One of the most feared and dangerous type of winter weather is the blizzard. Blizzards are very heavy snowstorms that are accompanied with fierce and freezing winds. Each year, many people die in their homes, their cars and on the streets from hypothermia caused by the freezing temperatures and fierce blizzards. Others die in car accidents caused by the treacherous roads as they try to make their way home through the hazardous weather conditions. Even building and structures suffer damage caused by the bellowing winds that accompany these blizzards.
Floods: Floods are one of the most common of natural disasters and can affect destinations all over the globe. Flooding can result from a number of situations, such as violent thunderstorms, heavy or frequent rains, overflow of inland or tidal waters, or thawing of major snowfalls. Floods can cause a great deal of damage and destruction, and tend to develop over the course of several days. The risk of flooding depends upon your location as well as on weather conditions.
Hail: Hail is formed when updrafts carry water droplets to below freezing levels and then downdrafts push them back down so that they begin to fall. On the way down these droplets – which will now have formed in to tiny balls of ice – may get pushed up again by another updraft, adding to their size. They are then pushed down again by another downdraft, but this time bigger than they were before. The size of a hailstone depends on how many times it is pushed to sub-zero levels by updrafts. Even tiny hailstones have been known to cause significant amounts of damage, although death by hail is very rare in most civilized countries.
Ice: Ice is a weather condition that affects many major cities and areas around the world. As rain and snow fall to the ground in the winter months, the freezing temperatures can result in the formation of ice. Rain and snow may have settled on roads, sidewalks, cars, trees, plants – just about anywhere. And when this rain and snow is turned in to ice, the dangers begin. Ice on the roads can be treacherous and is responsible for many accidents each year, many of which result in fatalities. Black ice in particular is a real hazard as it is difficult to spot.
Hurricanes: Hurricanes are tropical storms and are generated in tropical areas that lie close to the equator. They are characterized by swirling winds, at the centre of which lies the ‘eye’ of the hurricane. Hurricanes are low-pressure systems, which means that the eye of the storm is a low-pressure area with surrounding winds of at least 74mph. The calm eye of the storm is around fifteen miles across, and the actual storm can cover an area of between 200-480 miles in diameter. These storms begin their lives in tropical areas, where they start off as thunderstorms, and then begin to develop in to hurricanes as they pass over tropical waters.
Tornadoes: Tornadoes are powerful whirlwind storms that can cause vast amounts of destruction, with winds that can exceed 250mph. These storms can occur as a result of a thunderstorm or they can be created by cool air forcing the rapid elevation of warm air. The damage caused by tornadoes is due to the tremendous wind-force and up-current, as well as the debris caused by these winds. Most tornadoes occur between March and August between the hours of midday and midnight.
Thunderstorms: Severe thunderstorms can be dangerous, and around ten percent of those in the United States each year are classed as severe, bringing with them hail and winds of over 58mph. The lightening produced from thunderstorms can kill, and this is actually responsible for a higher mortality rate than tornadoes. The flash flooding caused by rain from thunderstorms is also a deadly danger, and is responsible for around 140 deaths per year.