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.
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
Cyclones, also known as hurricanes or typhoons, are primarily caused by high ocean temperatures, broad-scale wind systems and clustered thunderstorms, which liberate the heat energy from the ocean surface and transfer it to the cyclone. Ocean temperatures must be higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit to a depth of at least 150 feet.Full Answer >
According to Geoscience Australia, the main source for the generation of a tropical cyclone is the abundance of warm water and favorable wind patterns that can persist for several days as the cyclone develops. Encyclopedia Britannica explains that warm, moisture-saturated air continues to rise through the center of the circulation as long as the air surrounding the core is cooler and heavier. The continuous vertical movement allows clouds to develop.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 >
Storms are formed when the movement of cold and warm air currents creates extreme air pressure difference. Extreme air pressure is created at an atmospheric level as warm wet air rushes, causing cold air to move towards the area where air pressure is lower, eventually creating a rotation.Full Answer >