Army of Mom

So this is how liberty dies ... with thunderous applause.


Weather Myths

Typically, I pick up the USA Weekend supplement in my Sunday newspaper and thumb through it and then put it in the care package Priority Mail box that I gather stuff for Sgt. Rob Rob The Heart-Throb over in Iraq. I figure it is good stuff to read and I send a box about once a month. But, this time, the cover story caught my attention. The headline reads "Forget everything you thought you knew about weather." Hmm. That sounds intriguing, especially since I have the son who wants to be a weatherman when he grows up. I thought he might want to read it, but I started reading it and thought I'd share some of the juicy weather tidbits.

You can read the entire article and get even more from it. But, I'm guilty of some of these myths. The other night at the baseball field when it was hailing, raining and lightning, I was convinced we were safe by being grounded with our sneakers and rubber-soled shoes. Uh, no.

True or false? Wearing rubber-soled shoes protects you from lightning. Don't bet your new shoes -- or your life -- on it. Rubber soles won't do you any good. That bolt of electricity traveled all the way from within the thundercloud and packs as much of a heated punch as the sun's surface. So if lightning strikes the ground nearby, it still can go into your body through your feet. Nor do the rubber tires on your car make a difference. However, the metal shell of a hardtop vehicle is a good conductor. It won't provide 100% protection, but as long as you aren't touching any metal and you keep the windows rolled up, you'll be safer than you would be standing outside.

There were some old myths in there that I held true as a kid, but have since learned that they're not true, like the one about opening the doors and windows during a tornado. I can remember the school doing that when I was a kid during a tornado once. I vividly remember our principal, Mr. Delaney, running down the hall and looking out the open door at the end of the hallway seeing the funnel cloud.

This one fascinated me.
Pick one. To calculate the heat, count:
a) the length of time a dog howls.
b) the frequency of cricket chirps.
Although we're sure that dogs are telling us something when they howl, cricket chirps are the correct answer. Count the number of chirps in 15 seconds, and add 40. That's the temperature at ground level in degrees Fahrenheit. (The temperature will be slightly warmer around your head.) The chirping of the crickets seems to be influenced by the air temperature -- the hotter it gets, the more they seem to want to talk about it. (Which makes them a lot like us!)

Army of Dad taught me the one below.
True or false? You can tell how close a thunderstorm isby counting the seconds between lightning and thunder. True. The physics of sound velocity apply here. So, the rule of thumb is 1 mile for every five seconds between the sight of lightning and the sound of thunder. But if you get to, say, 20 seconds, meaning the lightning is 4 miles away, it doesn't mean you're safe. That's because "bolts from the blue" can come out of the thundercloud and strike as far as 10 miles away. And that is how many people have been injured or killed during thunderstorms.


  • At 1:45 AM, June 13, 2007, Blogger cashin said…

    "If you can hear thunder, it's possible for you to be struck by lightning."

    That's something they seemed to have just started saying on the weather broadcasts in the past couple years, or i'm just finally noticing...


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