Weather Break

From the Creighton University Department of Atmospheric Sciences

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Why Weather Never Ends

November 12th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Click here to listen to episode 805 of Weather Break.

Today’s is the final episode of Weather Break.  All this week, we’ve been talking about how weather features end, but that brings up a really interesting question– why doesn’t weather itself ever end?  After all, the atmosphere is under the influence of friction, which always acts to slow motions down, so why doesn’t the atmosphere eventually just come to a rest, with no more winds or storms or anything like that?  That’s actually a fascinating question to leads to an explanation of how the atmosphere fundamentally works as a heat engine, pumping excess heat from the tropical towards the very cold poles.  As long as the sun is shining and keeping the tropics warmer than the rest of the world, the atmosphere will keep working to spread that heat out more evenly around the planet, as we discuss on today’s final episode of Weather Break.

On behalf of everyone here in the Creighton University Department of Atmospheric Sciences, I’d like to thank everyone who helped make Weather Break a success for nearly four years and over 800 episodes.  Over the years, we’ve gotten assistance from many students — both in and out of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.  We’ve had support from our friends at DoIT (Creighton’s Division of Instructional Technology) and from the many people who were gracious enough to be guests on the program.  We are grateful for the financial support of the NASA Nebraska Space Grant, which helped make the program possible.  Most of all, we couldn’t have done this program without the generosity of our friends at KINI and KBRB, who made air time available to us so that we could share our enthusiasm for everything about the atmosphere.  Thank you to all of you, and we’re already thinking about ways that we can continue bringing news and information about weather, climate and the environment to you in the future!

→ 2 CommentsTags: Basic Meteorology

The Rope Stage of Tornadoes

November 11th, 2010 · No Comments

Click here to listen to episode 804 of Weather Break.

All storm systems eventually come to an end, and tornadoes are no exception.  There are actually quite a few different ways in which a tornado can stop causing damage (like, for example, simply lifting the funnel cloud off the ground).  However, one of the more dramatic and photogenic ways that a tornado can end is by going through its “rope stage”.  As the name implies, a tornado gets very long and narrow during this final stage of development before finally breaking up completely.  On today’s episode of Weather Break, we talk about the rope stage of tornadoes, and don’t forget to visit our website to see galleries of pictures of tornadoes in their rope stage.


Here is a collection of videos about the rope stage of tornadoes.

Here is a gallery of images from the Spencer, SD tornado, including (towards the bottom of the page) examples of the storm in its rope stage.

There are lots of truly amazing pictures of rope stage tornadoes on the internet.  Perhaps the best that we can do is show you this Google Image Search on the term “rope stage tornado”.  Some of these images are incredible.

→ No CommentsTags: Tornadoes

How Thunderstorms End

November 10th, 2010 · No Comments

Click here to listen to episode 803 of Weather Break.

Some features in the atmosphere are more or less permanent– the subtropical high pressure systems, the trade winds, and the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) are good examples.  However, most weather systems go through a clear life cycle, first forming, and later dissipating.  Thunderstorms are a clear example of this latter group.  On today’s episode of Weather Break, we talk about the processes at work in a thunderstorm that eventually cause the storm to fall apart.  We also discuss the strangely-named remnants of a thunderstorm– the “orphan anvil”.


For more information about orphan anvils, visit:

→ No CommentsTags: Thunderstorms


November 9th, 2010 · No Comments

Click here to listen to episode 802 of Weather Break.

Like all weather features, cyclones go through a life cycle– first forming, then going through a “mature” stage, and eventually dissipating.  The processes that cause a cyclone to weaken and die are collectively known as “cyclolysis”.  As Weather Break marches towards its final episode this coming Friday, we decided to spend this week on the ways in which weather features end, with the spotlight being on cyclones today.  How does a broad area of low pressure suddenly have pressures that increase and return to normal?  Tune in to today’s episode of Weather Break for the answers!


For more information about the life cycle of cyclones, visit:

→ No CommentsTags: Cyclones and Anticyclones


November 8th, 2010 · No Comments

Click here to listen to episode 801 of Weather Break.

This is the final week of production of new episodes of Weather Break, and as the program winds down it got us thinking about the different weather features wind down or end.  A good example of this sort of process would be “frontolysis”, or how fronts eventually dissipate.  On today’s episode of Weather Break, we kick off the last week of the program by looking into the lives of fronts and how fronts eventually cease to exist.


There are, of course, lots of great online resources about fronts and frontolysis.  Here are some examples that we particularly like:

→ No CommentsTags: Basic Meteorology