What Makes Weather?

What Makes Weather?

After the bizarre past few months of winter weather, from mild to freezing cold, blizzard-like conditions, we wondered if people really knew what was behind this crazy winter weather.

The moon has a very important part of our earth. It’s responsible for tidal changes in our oceans and spreading water out all over the globe. But the sun’s role is even bigger. We all know that the sun heats the planet, creates light and gives us much needed Vitamin D. But did you know that the sun is responsible for climate, winds and even storm conditions?

Depending on which parts of the atmosphere are heated more than others, this will influence not only temperature, but ultimately, winds as well. These winds, even if not very strong, can bring in storms and they can bring in sunny and warm days too. The uneven heat distribution also causes high and low pressures in our atmosphere. Usually whenever we think of air pressure changes we tend to think of tornados and hurricanes. Even a simple rain or snow storm is caused by pressure changes too. When air with high moisture rises within a low pressure area, and warm air moves above cold air, a storm will occur. If the surface area is very cold (below one or two degrees Celsius), the precipitation will likely come down as snow. White out and blizzard conditions can occur because of high winds that circulate around this low pressure area. The amount of precipitation that we receive is subject to “(1) how fast the warm air is rising over the cold air, (2) how much water vapor is available to form precipitation, and (3) how fast the storm is moving (slower will produce more snow at a location).”

Quite often in southern Ontario, we have what is known as “lake effect” snow, which is very difficult for forecasters to predict. When our Great Lakes are not frozen but it’s still very cold out, the air will pull up evaporated water from the surface and voila- lake effect snow. This only occurs over very large bodies of water, such as our Great Lakes.

 

There are many other factors that come in to play with our weather, but this is a very basic explanation about how our weather conditions transpire.