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IQ Weather Homeschool Extra: The Skies Tell A Stormy Story

At IQ Weather, we like to teach you new and different ways to look at weather!

In our 24-lesson video- based course, we talk about clouds and how they are formed. Today I want to talk about visual clues you can use to tell whether or not the atmosphere is becoming more favorable for storm development…using the look of the sky!

If storms are in the forecast for a particular day, often the air has to become unstable before strong storms can form. When we say the air is unstable, we simply mean that the air is rising, which helps promote the formation of precipitation and storms.

If the air is stable, it means that there is little or no vertical motion.

The clouds that form in stable air are usually stratiform in nature…in other words…flat and fairly uniform. It is quite common to see a lot of stratocumulus clouds during the morning hours before a storms form. Stratocumulus clouds look like this:

As long as the air remains stable, the clouds will look that way....

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IQ Weather Homeschool Extra: Storm Development Indicators

Have you ever wondered how weather forecasters can tell if the conditions are primed for a storm? How do they tell the difference between a severe storm situation and a situation where only regular thunderstorm are expected?

Like many other scientific disciplines, the key to making judgments about storms is to measure everything you can in the developing environment. There are many tools that meteorologists use, and today IQ Weather talks about a couple of things you can check on your own! We’ll discuss more of them in the future so you can become a severe weather expert!

The first and most basic item to look for is a high dew point.  Typically, for severe weather to occur, the dewpoint needs to be above 55° across the area where you suspect storms to form.  The dew point temperature is defined as the temperature to which the air would have to cool (at constant pressure and constant water vapor content) in order to reach saturation. The higher the dew point, the...

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