Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hot For Most, Wet In The Middle

Well it seems like a broken record, more rain for the middle of the country -- with Missouri being the bullseye.

This time is seems to be heavier on the west side (Kansas City) as opposed to the east side (St. Louis) but that could change as the day wears on.

I was reading about several flooding reports in and around Kansas City due to 2-4 inches of rain overnight.

Go to the maps section of CoCoRaHS and click on Missouri, then pull up just Jackson County.

That is really something to have that many widespread reports right at 4 inches. Usually you see a good size thunderstorm with a small target of one report at 4 inches, and all the surrounding reports might be more in the 1-3 inch range.

That thunderstorm had a large and VERY WET center, and put down BILLIONS of gallons of water on that county.

It remains hot all over, including here in Denver. Today will be Day 18 with temps in the 90s -- which ties the longest streak of 90-degree days ever for the city.

We are expected to be in the upper 90s and even lower 100s well into next week. Pretty remarkable!


There are a few more aspects of the atmosphere we need to explore. Ozone -- not the pollution found at the Earth's surface, but the atmospheric kind, found way up high in the stratosphere.

It forms naturally as oxygen chemicals combine with oxygen molecules.

The ozone layer shields life on Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.

There are also impurities from both human and natural sources that become airborne within the atmosphere.

They are called aerosols -- and include smoke from forest fires, ash from volcanoes, dust from dry fields, and small saltwater droplets from the oceans.

Some natural impurities are beneficial to us because they act as surfaces on which water vapor condenses to form clouds. (almost like cloud seeding)

But there are also bad, human-made impurities called pollutants in the atmosphere, such as exhaust from automobile engines.

Now that you have an introduction to the atmosphere and it's composition, it is time to look at the vertical structure.

If you took a slice of the atmosphere, meaning from the ground up as far as the eye can see, and looked at the profile of it -- you would notice that it could be broken up into a series of layers.

Each layer could be defined in a number of ways, including how the temperature varies through it, the gas composition and it's electrical properties.

For weather, however, there are really two main things you need to worry about when looking at the atmosphere in the vertical (from the ground up) and that is air pressure and air density.

Tomorrow we will explore this more...

Are you enjoying these lessons? I know it is a little dry and you probably want to dive right into thuderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.

But you have to have at least a basic understanding of the atmosphere before the rest will make sense.

We'll get there soon enough, I promise!


  1. Thanks for the lessons...and yes, we are enjoying them.

  2. Hear,hear (or is it here, here?)Anyway, yes we enjoy the lessons. The 'bite-size' paragraph or two are just right...and thanks for the references when we want to read more on our own. Greenhouse gases could be talked about for days...