Strong winds blowing over loose soil or sand causes sandstorms. During a sandstorm, so much material is picked up by the winds that visibility is greatly reduced. Heating of the air over the desert causes instability in the lower atmosphere, making sandstorms more frequent.Know More
A sandstorm can last from several hours to a full day. The sand moving within a sandstorm can clog nearly anything mechanical. Breathing is also a problem, and masks are a necessary precaution during a sandstorm. Most sandstorms affect only one to three miles, so air travel is usually not a problem.
There are two types of sandstorms. The first, called a "haboob," an Arabic word for blowing dust, results from strong winds of a severe thunderstorm. The second is caused by the curving of the jet stream which brings strong winds to the ground. Most Americans are familiar with this type, according to Texas A&M University Department of Atmospheric Sciences.
Some of the worst sandstorms form in China and Mongolia. The sand in the air is so dense it changes the color of the rain, creating the appearance of yellow rain falling from the sky. Sandstorms can grow large enough to be seen from space, and on Aug. 24, 2010, the NASA Aqua satellite captured an image of a widespread sandstorm that covered parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.Learn more about Storms
Thunderstorms are formed by the combination of three main ingredients: moisture, unstable atmospheric air and an external acting force making the damp and volatile air rise upward. Thunderstorms come in several different categories, which are orographic, air mass and frontal. They form above land and sea, varying in duration and intensity.Full Answer >
Thunderstorms form when the three required atmospheric conditions of sufficient moisture, unstable air and a lifting mechanism are present. In the United States, thunderstorms are most common in the spring and summer months when temperatures are relatively high.Full Answer >
Thunderstorms cause hail when strong winds push raindrops upward into the atmosphere where the extremely cold air supercools the water and causes it to freeze into spheres of ice. This can occur several times, with balls of ice falling and then being lifted by updrafts, collecting condensation as they go. This results in a distinct layering in hailstones each time a layer of liquid water freezes on the surface.Full Answer >
Typhoons are cyclonic tropical storms caused by a combination of warm water, evaporation, swirling winds and other factors. They typically start as smaller more mundane storms, but under the right conditions they may grow into monster coastline-wrecking typhoons.Full Answer >