Weather Explained - A Brief Explanation of What You Should Know
By Steven Milbrandt

People instinctively seem to know how important weather is to their daily lives, especially in areas where it changes often. This is important because an unprotected individual in the face of severe weather can be significantly injured or killed by its effects. Having at least a cursory understanding of what the weather is will mean that you are not only more informed and educated, but will be better able to determine what, if any actions you can take to protect yourself and make wise decisions concerning the weather around you at any given time.
Broadly defined, weather is "a set of all the phenomena occurring in a given atmosphere at a given time." It occurs in the hydrosphere and troposphere. The hydrosphere is any part of the earth or its atmosphere in which water or water vapour is found. The troposphere, on the other hand, is the lowest layer of the atmosphere and contains about 95 percent of the mass of air in the earth's atmosphere. The troposphere extends from the Earth's surface up to about 10 to 15 kilometres. Weather happens because of temperature and moisture differences between one place and another. Differences occur because of variations in the angle of the sun at any particular location. Weather means current activity and climate is related to the average conditions over longer periods of time.

Specialized weather conditions such as hurricanes need to be given attention here because of the significant influence they have over warm areas. Areas of particular concern are the tropics and warm U.S. states where hurricanes and other severe weather phenomena exist regularly. A hurricane is a low pressure zone funnelling surrounding warm air to the ground. A hurricane is the same as a cyclone. The difference comes from the area of the ocean that the storm forms. Cyclones are responsible for a wide variety of different meteorological phenomena such as tropical cyclones and tornadoes. The result is that weather forecasters usually further defines the term with another. A hurricane is itself a commonly cited chaotic phenomenon for it consists of elements that come spontaneously to form complex systems. The elements together are a greater risk than the pieces when considered individually.

Weather might also be defined this way: weather is the short-lived condition of the air. It can be called "short-lived" because it can change rapidly. For example in some places like Melbourne, Australia you could experience three weather patterns in one day. Weather is logical; it is a straight cause and effect situation. The problem is that the cause is often unknown.
As stated earlier, weather can have a significant impact on the environment around us. It is important to accurately predict certain outcomes of particular types of weather. This is the case, for example when dealing with forest and brush fires. Weather is often the most influential variable. People in charge of controlling wildfires must understand how
fire may react to an alteration in the weather, such as a wind change. Wind and water conditions, such as water availability are a large determining factor affecting how fire crews respond. Many times aspects of fire control and containment include "controlled burns". A controlled burn refers to" prescribed or controlled burning of a specific area to prevent it spreading further where containment may be far less certain. It is a technique sometimes used in forest management, farming and prairie restoration".

It is important to understand weather and because of how it can affect basic tasks that people often take for granted. Such commonplace activities include driving a car. Weather is one environmental risk factor that is known to affect road crash rates around the world. If a person were informed of weather conditions that might significantly impair the safe driving of a vehicle, the prudent driver would pull over until a specific weather condition has passed. Seeking appropriate shelter strong enough to withstand the present conditions is also advised.
It is also good to be aware of common weather terms that are heard everyday like "wind chill". Wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by wind and cold. As the wind increases, it draws heat from the body, driving down skin temperature and, eventually, the internal body temperature. Another significant term used in weather prediction is Zulu time. Meteorologists use Zulu time, which is the standard time in Greenwich, England, in their forecasts, such as for aviation, to avoid confusion with time zones in forecasts for far-away locations. Air traffic controllers use it for the same reason. Standardization is important to avoid confusion in different places. Another common term is "jet stream". Jet stream relates to the strong temperature contrast between polar and tropical air. . Because the Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbit, sunlight is at different angles at different times of the year. This results in temperature changes. Temperature differences than cause pressure differences. Higher altitudes are cooler than lower altitudes.

Lastly it is important to realize how volatile and sensitive the atmospheric system is. Small changes in one part of the system can have a huge impact on the whole. Weather forecasting makes use of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a future time at a particular location. It is hoped that this brief explanation of weather in general with reference to more specific weather phenomena will help you gain a more clear understanding of it, how it affects you and what certain, common terms used frequently actually mean. Appreciation is hereby expressed to Google for general definitions of specific weather terms. You can learn how to use the define feature with the following syntax to learn meanings for terms you specify this way; "define:term" where term refers to the term you are frying to define. Look for additional articles at the websites given at the end of this article.