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What is a mudflow?

A:

Quick Answer

A mudflow is the downhill movement of soft, wet earth and debris made fluid by rain or melted snow. Mudflows occur when water mixes with soil and rock. They are most common in mountainous regions when a long dry season is followed by heavy rains.

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Full Answer

Mudflows from volcanic eruptions, also known as lahars, are the most dangerous. This type of mudflow is composed of a slurry of hot gases, rocky debris and water. Lahars are as thick as liquid concrete and can move up to 80 miles per hour. They can be caused by lava, melting snow and glaciers during an eruption.

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    What causes mudflow?

    A:

    Mudflows are caused by conditions favorable to soft, wet mud sliding downhill instead of staying put. Earthquakes, heavy rains, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and even nearby explosions have been known to trigger mudflows.

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    How do typhoons form?

    A:

    Like other tropical cyclones, typhoons form when warm, calm ocean waters transfer warmth and moisture to the air above the surface. The air rises into cooler layers of the atmosphere, allowing the water to condense and the air to fall back down. This sets up a convective current that draws moisture and energy into the clouds and causes them to begin to spin.

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    Where did the Dust Bowl occur?

    A:

    The 1930s Dust Bowl affected the entire southwestern Great Plains, with the Oklahoma panhandle suffering the most severe circumstances. By 1934, 75 percent of the United States was damaged by the drought, affecting a total of 27 states, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

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    What happens when air masses meet?

    A:

    When two air masses with different temperatures and levels of humidity meet they form weather fronts. This can include cold, warm, occluded or stationary fronts depending on the characteristics of the air masses.

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