A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


The average temperature for a day computed by averaging either the hourly readings or, more commonly, the maximum and minimum temperatures.
States that the total pressure exerted by a mixture of gases is equal to the sum of the partial pressures of the gases. Formulated by John Dalton, an English physicist.
Buoys placed throughout the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States that relay information on air and water temperature, wind speed, air pressure, and wave conditions via radio signals.
The first appearance of light in the eastern sky before sunrise. It marks the beginning of morning twilight. The visual display is created by the scattering of light reaching the upper atmosphere prior to the sun's rise to the observer's horizon. Also known as daybreak.
Considered a basic unit of time as defined by the earth's motion. It represents the time needed for one complete revolution of the earth about its own axis. Also know as a sidereal day, it is approximately equal to 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.09 seconds. See night.
Considered a rotating cloud of debris or dust that is on the ground or near the ground. The debris cloud appearing beneath a thunderstorm will most likely confirm the presence of a tornado.
Used in describing the history of a low pressure system or an area of cyclonic circulation, it means a decrease in the central pressure of the system. Although it usually describes the action of a pressure system on a constant pressure chart, it also means a surface low is increasing in cyclonic circulation and acquiring more energy. The opposite of filling.
A measure of temperature difference representing a single division on a temperature scale. See Celsius, Fahrentheit, and Kelvin scales.
A measure of the departure of the mean daily temperature from a given standard. That is one degree day for each degree (Fahrenheit or Celsius) of departure above or below the standard during one day. Refer to cooling degree day and heating degree day.
Advisory issued when fog reduces visibility to 1/8 mile or less, creating possible hazardous conditions.
The ratio of the mass of a substance to the volume it occupies. In oceanography, it is equivalent to specific gravity and represents the ratio of the weight of a given volume of sea water to that of an equal volume of distilled water at 4.0 degrees Celsius or 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
The altitude at which a given density is found in the standard atmosphere. Used in aviation, it is computed from the station pressure at takeoff and the virtual temperature at the particular altitude under consideration.
In meteorology, it is another name for an area of low pressure, a low, or trough. It also applies to a stage of tropical cyclone development and is known as a tropical depression to distinguish it from other synoptic features.
A line of intense, widespread, and fast-moving thunderstorms that moves across a great distance. They are characterized by damaging straight-line winds over hundreds of miles. Spanish for straight.
Condensation in the form of small water drops that forms on grass and other small objects near the ground when the temperature has fallen to the dew point, generally during the nighttime hours.
The temperature to which air must be cooled at a constant pressure to become saturated.
Dry winds in the Diablo mountain range in central California that can exceed 60 miles per hour. Similar to the Santa Ana winds, they develop as the wind flows from high pressure over Nevada to lower pressure along the central California coast.
A pattern of air flow in which wind direction diverges along an axis oriented parallel to the flow along the axis. Considered a form of divergence. The opposite of confluence.
The result of light waves interfering with other after passing through a narrow aperture, causing them to bend or spread.
The shear created by a rapid change in wind direction with height.
Comparatively large contrast in meteorological elements over a relatively small distance or period of time. In oceanography, it is the abrupt change or jump of a variable at a line or surface.
This has several applications. It can apply to a low or cyclone that is small in size and influence. It can also apply to an area that is exhibiting signs of cyclonic development. It may also apply to a stage of tropical cyclone development and is known as a tropical disturbance to distinguish it from other synoptic features.
Pertaining to actions or events that occur during a twenty-four hour cycle or recurs every twenty-four hours. Meteorological elements that are measured diurnally include clouds, precipitation, pressure, relative humidity, temperature, and wind.
Wind movement that results in a horizontal net outflow of air into a particular region. Divergence at lower levels is associated with a downward movement of air from aloft. Contrast with convergence.
The name given to the very hot summer weather that may persists for four to six weeks between mid-July through early September in the United States. In western Europe, this period may exist from the first week in July to mid-August and is often the period of the greatest frequency of thunder. Named for Sirius, the Dog Star, which lies in conjunction with the sun during this period, it was once believed to intensify the sun's heat during the summer months.
Located between 30 degrees North and 30 degrees South latitudes in the vicinity of the equator, this area typically has calm or light and variable winds. Also a nautical term for the equatorial trough. See Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) or the Horse Latitudes.
Weather radar that measures direction and speed of a moving object, such as drops of precipitation, by determining whether atmospheric motion is horizontally toward or away from the radar. Using the Doppler effect, it measures the velocity of particles. Named for J. Christian Doppler, an Austrian physicist, who in 1842 explained why the whistle of an approaching train had a higher pitch than the same whistle when the train was going away. See NEXRAD.
A severe localized downdraft from a thunderstorm or shower. This outward burst of cool or colder air creates damaging winds at or near the surface. Sometimes the damage resembles tornadic damage. See microburst.
A sudden descent of cool or cold air to the ground, usually with precipitation, and associated with a thunderstorm or shower. Contrast with an updraft.
A heavy rain. See cloudburst.
The warming of an air flow as it descends a hill or mountain slope. Contrast with an upslope effect.
A katabatic wind, it is caused by the cooling of air along the slopes of a mountain. An example is a mountain breeze.
Snow particles blown from the ground by the wind to a height of less than six feet.
Normally used when referring to snow or sand, particles are deposited behind obstacles or irregularities of the surface or driven into piles by the wind.
Slowly falling precipitation in the form of tiny water droplets with diameters less than 0.02 inches or 0.5 millimeters. It falls from stratus clouds and is often associated with low visibility and fog. It is reported as "DZ" in an observation and on the METAR.
A radiosonde dropped with a parachute from an aircraft rather than lifted by a balloon to measure the atmosphere below.
Abnormal dry weather for a specific area that is sufficiently prolonged for the lack of water to cause serious hydrological imbalance.
The lifting of dry air, or air that does not contain water vapor. As a parcel lifts, its pressure decreases, and since pressure decreases with height, the air temperature falls due to expansion. When air is dry and is lifted adiabatically, then the temperature decreases at a rate of 1 degree Celsius per 100 meters (5.5 degrees Fahrenheit per 1,000 feet). Contrast with a moist adiabat.
A thermometer used to measure the ambient temperature. The temperature recorded is considered identical to air temperaure. One of the two therometers that make up a psychrometer.
The boundary between the dry desert air mass of the Southwest and the moist air mass from the Gulf of Mexico. It usually lies north-south across the central and southern High Plains states during spring and summer. The passage of a dry line results in a sharp decrease in humidity, clearing skies, and a wind shift from southeasterly or south to southwesterly or west. Its presence influences severe weather development in the Great Plains.
An area of dry, and usually cloud-free, air that wraps into the southern and eastern sections of a synoptic scale or mesoscale low pressure system. Best seen on a satellite picture, such as a water vapor image.
The period of waning light from the time of sunset to dark. See twilight and dawn.
Small particles of earth or other matter suspended in the air. It is reported as "DU" in an observation and for wide spread dust on the METAR.
The term given to the area of the Great Plains including Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico that was most greatly affected during the Great Drought of the 1930's.
A small, rapidly rotating column of wind, made visible by the dust, dirt or debris it picks up. It usually occurs in arid or semi-arid areas and is most likely to develop on clear, dry, hot afternoons in response to surface heating. Also called a whirlwind.
A severe weather condition characterized by strong winds and dust-filled air over a large area. Visibility is reduced to betwen 5/8ths and 5/16ths statute mile. It is reported as "DS" in an observation and on the METAR.
The deviation of actual altitude along a constant pressure surface from the standard atmosphere altitude of that surface.
A branch of mechanics that deals with forces and their relations to patterns of motion. In metorology, this relates especially to wind and water patterns.

Top of Page


Branick, Michael. NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS SR-145, A Comprehensive Glossary of Weather Terms for Storm Spotters. U.S. Department of Commerce, 1995.

Everything Weather - The Essential Guide to the Whys and Wonders of Weather.

Famighetti, Robert (ed.). The World Almanac and Book of Facts (1996). Mahwah, New Jersey. Funk & Wagnalls Corporation, 1995.

Federal Meteorological Handbook No. 1, Surface Weather Observations and Reports. National Weather Service, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1996.

Huschke, R.E. (ed.). The Glossary of Meteorology. Boston, Massachusetts. American Meteorological Society Press, 1980.

National Weather Service Observing Handbook No. 7, Surface Weather Observations and Reports. U.S. Department of Commerce, 1996.