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Weather Vocabulary

Word Definition Image

wind The perceptible natural movement of the

air, especially in the form of a current of
air blowing from a particular direction.

anemometer An instrument for measuring the speed of

the wind, or of any current of gas.

atmospheric The pressure exerted by the weight of the

pressure atmosphere, which at sea level has a
mean value of 101,325 pascals (roughly
14.6959 pounds per square inch).

density The density, or more precisely, the

volumetric mass density, of a substance
is its mass per unit volume.

sea level The level of the sea's surface, used in

reckoning the height of geographical
features such as hills and as a barometric

barometer An instrument measuring atmospheric

pressure, used especially in forecasting
the weather and determining altitude.
convection cell A self-contained convective zone in a fluid
in which upward motion of warmer fluid in
the center is balanced by downward
motion of cooler fluid at the periphery.

prototype A first, typical or preliminary model of

something, especially a machine, from
which other forms are developed or

dew point The temperature at which air is saturated

with water vapor

dew Water droplets that form on surfaces due

to condensation of water vapor

water cycle The movement of water through the

Earth’s system

ground water Water located underground that fills pore

spaces in soil and rock layers

transpiration The evaporation of water from the leaves

of plants

evaporation Evaporation is a type of vaporization that

occurs on the surface of a liquid as it
changes into the gas phase.
absolute humidity The amount of water vapor in a given
volume of air, usually expressed as
grams per cubic meter (g/m3)

relative humidity The ratio, usually expressed as a

percentage, the actual amount of water
vapor in the air to the maximum amount
of water vapor air can hold at the same

crystallization The formation of a solid structure whose

atoms or molecules are arranged in a
repeating, three-dimensional pattern

precipitation Solid or liquid water that falls from clouds

to the ground

stationary front A stationary front is a pair of air masses,

neither of which is strong enough to
replace the other. On a weather map, this
is shown by an inter-playing series of blue
spikes pointing one direction and red
domes pointing the other.

warm front The boundary of an advancing mass of

warm air, in particular the leading edge of
the warm sector of a low-pressure

occluded front A composite front produced by occlusion.

cold front A cold front is the leading edge of a
cooler mass of air, replacing at ground
level a warmer mass of air, which lies
within a fairly sharp surface trough of low

weather front A weather front is a boundary separating

two masses of air of different densities,
and is the principal cause of
meteorological phenomena outside the
tropics. In surface weather analysis,
fronts are depicted using various colored
triangles and half-circles, depending on
the type of front.

air mass A body of air with horizontally uniform

temperature, humidity, and pressure.

Low pressure A low pressure system has lower

system pressure at its center than the areas
around it. Winds blow towards the low
pressure, and the air rises in the
atmosphere where they meet. As the air
rises, the water vapor within it condenses
forming clouds and often precipitation too.

High pressure High-pressure systems are frequently

system associated with light winds at the surface
and subsidence through the lower portion
of the troposphere. In general,
subsidence will dry out an air mass by
adiabatic or compressional heating. Thus,
high pressure typically brings clear skies.

isobar A line on a map connecting points having

the same atmospheric pressure at a given
time or on average over a given period.
severe A severe thunderstorm warning (SAME
thunderstorm code: SVR) is issued by the National
Weather Service when trained storm
spotters or Doppler weather radar
indicate that a thunderstorm is producing
or will soon produce dangerously large
hail or high winds, capable of causing
significant damage.

severe weather Severe weather refers to any dangerous

meteorological phenomena with the
potential to cause damage, serious social
disruption, or loss of human life. Types of
severe weather phenomena vary,
depending on the latitude, altitude,
topography, and atmospheric conditions.

blizzard A blizzard is a severe snow storm with

winds in excess of 35 mph and visibility of
less than a 1/4 mile for more than 3
hours. Blizzards can also occur after
snowfall when high winds cause
whiteouts (fallen snow blowing around)
and snowdrifts (huge mountains of snow),
which decrease visibility.

Heat index a measure indicating the level of

discomfort the average person is thought
to experience as a result of the combined
effects of the temperature and humidity of
the air.

Heat wave A heat wave is a period of excessively hot

weather, which may be accompanied by
high humidity, especially in oceanic
climate countries. While definitions vary, a
heat wave is usually measured relative to
the usual weather in the area and relative
to normal temperatures for the season.

tornado A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of

air that is in contact with both the surface
of the Earth and a cumulonimbus cloud
or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus
hurricane a storm with a violent wind, in particular a
tropical cyclone in the Caribbean.