Glossary

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A
Air MassesA large area of air with common characteristics: temperature, air pressure, and moisture.
Air PressurePressure caused by the weight of the air
Astronomical conditionsConditions in the earth's atmosphere. In tidal waves, when the sun and moon line up, their combined gravity causes higher than normal waves.
AtmosphereThe layer of gases that surrounds the earth: oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and other gases.
AtypicalNot typical or usual.
AvalancheA swift sudden landslide of snow, ice, rocks, or dirt down a mountain slope.
B
BlizzardA blinding snow storm with a very strong, cold wind.
C
ClimateThe average weather conditions of a region including: temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind conditions.
CloudsA white or gray or almost black mass in the sky made up of tiny drops of water or ice crystals.
CondensationThe changing from a gas or a vapor to a liquid.
ContaminationSomething that is spoiled by dirt, disease, or bacteria.
CoriolisThe earth's rotation causes air to move in a circular motion.
CrystalsRegularly shaped pieces with angles and flat surfaces.
CumulonimbusA cloud that often has heavy precipitation, and can lead to thunderstorms or tornadoes.
D
DoldrumsAn area near the equator that has little or no wind.
DredgeA method used to deepen harbors and waterways.
DroughtA long period of time without rainfall.
E
EarthquakeA movement of a portion of the earth's crust produced by underground volcanic forces or by breaking and shifting of rock beneath the surface.
EquatorAn imaginary circle around the center of the earth.
EvacuateTo withdraw or leave, especially from a threatened area.
EvaporateTo change from liquid to a vapor.
EyeThe calm center of a hurricane.
F
Flood ZoneAn area prone to floods.
Fujita-Pearson-ScaleA scale used to rate a tornado's power.
H
HailSmall pieces of ice coming down from the clouds in a shower, frozen rain.
Heat IndexA large amount of moisture in the air makes a warm day feel even warmer.
HumidityDampness or moisture - the amount or degree of moisture in the air.
HurricaneA violent cyclone with winds moving from 70 to 100 miles an hour, usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning: hurricanes generally form in the tropics
K
KilometerA unit for measuring length or distance (about 5/8 of a mile)
L
LeveeAn embankment raised to prevent a river from over flowing
M
MonsoonA southwest wind that brings heavy rains and flooding
P
PhenomenonA fact, event or circumstance that can be observed or sensed
Polar EasterliesA wind that blows from the North and South poles in an easterly direction
PrecipitationThe water that falls to the earth in the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail
Prevailing WesterliesA wind that blows in a westerly direction. It is also called the Trade Winds
S
Saffir Simpson ScaleA scale used to measure hurricanes
SeasonThe average temperature is different in each season. In most of the U.S. there are four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall
ShelterSomething that covers or protects
SnowSoft white crystals of ice that fall to the earth as precipitation
Storm SurgeA large wave caused by a hurricane
StructureA building; anything that is built
T
Tidal WaveOften the name incorrectly identifying a tsunami; tidal waves are the extremely long period waves driven by the forces producing the tides. 1. The wave motion of the tides. 2. In popular usage, any unusually high (and therefore destructive) water level along a shore. It usually refers to either a storm surge or tsunami.
TronadaA Spanish word for tornado
TropicalHaving to do with the warm regions of the Earth near the Equator
Tropical EasterliesAir from the equator warms and rises. As it cools, it flows back down to the equator. It is forced in an east to west flow due to the rotation of the earth.
TsunamiA very large and destructive ocean wave caused by an underwater earthquake
U
UpdraftA surge of air in an upward direction
UTCUniversal Coordinated Time: same as Greenwich Mean Time; uniform atomic time system kept very closely to UT2 by offsets. Maintained by the US Naval Observatory. GPS time is directly relatable to UTC. UTC-GPS = 9 seconds (in 1994)
W
Water VaporWater in the form of mist or tiny droplets in the air
Wind Chill EffectWhen wind flows, it makes the temperature feel cooler. In winter, it can lower the temperature to dangerous levels. In 1999, record lows of -100 degrees (wind chill) were recorded in Alaska.

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