Weather Related Handy Facts

Thunder and the distance to the Lightning
Sound travels about five miles per second, so start counting "1 steamboat - 2 steamboat - ..." [each steamboat is about a second] and then divide by 5 to get to the number of miles you are from the lightning. If you want decimal miles, multiply by 2 and divide by 10 (eg, if you get to 7 steamboats, 7 x 2 is 14 , so the lightning strike is 1.4 miles from where you are.
How much equivalent rainfall is there in snow?
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center ( The commonly used ten-to-one ratio of snowfall to water content is a myth for much of the United States. This ration varies from as low as 100-to-one to as high as about three-to-one depending on the meteorological conditions associated with the snowfall.
When it is snowing, what is the average accumulation?
Nationwide in North America, the average snowfall amount per day when snow falls is about two inches, but in some mountain areas of the West, an average of seven inches per snow day is observed. (
How much will the oceans rise if the glaciers melt?
According to the United States Geological Service (, if the glaciers on Greenland melt completely, the oceans will rise about 6.5 meters (over 21 feet). If the ice cap on Antartica melts completely, the oceans will rise an additional 64.8 meters (over 212 feet). If all the glaciers in the world melt, the total rise in the oceans worldwide will be 80.32 meters (over 263 feet - that is one quarter of the height of the Chrysler Building).
If the oceans rise by only 10m (about 33 feet), at least one quarter of the population of the USA will have to find somewhere else to live.
Will the ocean rise happen slowly or quickly?
Melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet would result in a sea-level rise of about 8 meters (over 26 feed). The West Antarctic ice sheet is especially vulnerable, because much of it is grounded below sea level. Small changes in global sea level or a rise in ocean temperatures could cause a breakup of the two buttressing ice shelves (Ronne/Filchner and Ross). The resulting surge of the West Antarctic ice sheet would lead to a rapid rise in global sea level. (From the United States Geological Service (

In one area, around the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica, glaciers are dumping more than 110 cubic kilometres of ice into the ocean each year, Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, US, told a meeting at the Royal Society in London, UK. This loss, which is increasing each year, is many times faster than the ice can be replaced by snowfall inland, he says.
The impending ice disaster centres on Pine Island Bay on the shores of the Amundsen Sea, where the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers enter the sea. These glaciers, like many in West Antarctica, are perched on underwater mountains. The meeting heard that warmer ocean waters are circulating beneath the ice and melting their bases at a rate of 50 metres a year.
As this happens, the glaciers float clear of the submarine mountains and slide into the ocean. According to Andy Shepherd at the University of Cambridge, UK, they are discharging ice three times faster than a decade ago.
These glaciers are being dubbed the "plug hole" of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. If the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers disappeared, they alone could raise sea levels worldwide by more than a metre, says Rignot.
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