WEATHER TERMINOLOGY



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NADIR
The point on any given observer's celestial sphere diametrically opposite of one's zenith.
NATIONAL CENTER FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH (NCAR)
A division of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the Center plans, organizes, and conducts atmospheric and related research programs in collaboration with universities. For further information, contact NCAR, located in Boulder, Colorado.
NATIONAL CENTERS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PREDICTION (NCEP)
As part of the National Weather Service, the centers provide timely, accurate, and continually improving worldwide forecast guidance products. Some of the centers include the Climate Prediction Center, the Storm Prediction Center, and the Tropical Prediction Center. For further information, contact the NCEP.
NATIONAL CLIMATIC DATA CENTER (NCDC)
The agency that archives climatic data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as other climatological organizations. For further information, contact the NCDC, located in Asheville, North Carolina.
NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER (NHC)
A branch of the Tropical Prediction Center, it is the office of the National Weather Service that is responsible for tracking and forecasting tropical cyclones over the North Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific. For further information, contact the NHC, located in Miami, Florida.
NATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL CENTER (NMC)
The division of the National Weather Service that produces, processes, handles, and distributes meteorological and oceanographic information to users throughout the Northern Hemisphere, specifically U.S. governmental organizations. For further information, contact the NMC, located in Camp Spring, Maryland.
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION (NOAA)
A branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce, it is the parent organization of the National Weather Service. It promotes global environmental stewardship, emphasizing atmospheric and marine resources. For further information, contact the NOAA, located in Silver Spring, Maryland.
NATIONAL SEVERE STORMS FORECAST CENTER (NSSFC)
The division of the National Weather Service that maintains a watch for thunderstorm activity on the lower forty-eight states. They are responsible for preparing thunderstorm outlooks and issuing tornado and severe thunderstorm watches. The Center is located in Kansas City, Missouri.
NATIONAL SEVERE STORMS LABORATORY (NSSL)
A branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it provides accurate and timely forecasts and warnings of hazardous weather events, especially flash floods, hail, lightning, tornadoes, and other severe wind storms. For further information, contact the NSSL, headquartered in Norman, Oklahoma.
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE (NWS)
A primary branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is responsible for all aspects of observing and forecasting atmospheric conditions and their consequences, including severe weather and flood warnings. For further information, contact the NWS.
NAUTICAL MILE
A unit of length used in marine navigation that is equal to a minute of arc of a great circle on a sphere. One international nautical mile is equivalent to 1,852 meters or 1.151 statue miles. Refer to a sea mile.
NAUTICAL TWILIGHT
The time after civil twilight, when the brighter stars used for celestial navigation have appeared and the horizon may still be seen. It ends when the center of the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon, and it is too difficult to perceive the horizon, preventing accurate sighting of stars. See twilight.
NEAP TIDE
A tide of decreased range, which occurs about every two weeks when the moon is at one quarter or three-quarters full. Compare with a spring tide.
NEGATIVE VORTICITY ADVECTION
Occurs when the rotation of the atmosphere advects lower values of vorticity into an area. This is created by divergence aloft. Contrast with positive vorticity advection.
NEWHALL WINDS
The local name for winds blowing downward from desert uplands through the Newhall Pass southward into the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles.
NEWTON
The unit of force giving a mass of about one kilogram (2.205 pounds) an acceleration of about one meter (1 yard) per second per second.
NEXRAD
Acronym for NEXt Generation Weather RADar. A network of advanced Doppler radars implemented in the United States between 1992 and 1996, it detects the location and intensity of precipitation out to a range of 143 miles from the radar site. NEXRAD Doppler radar is highly sensitive and can detect precipitation from very light rain and snow up to the strongest thunderstorms with accuracy and detail. Sometimes, however, the radar's extreme sensitivity will cause ground clutter and other non-precipitation echoes to be displayed in the vicinity of the radar site.
NIGHT
The period of the day between dusk and dawn.
NIMBOSTRATUS
This cloud exhibits a combination of rain or snow, and sometimes the base of the cloud cannot be seen because of the heaviness of precipitation. They are generally associated with fall and winter conditions, but can occur during any season.
NITROGEN (N2)
A colorless, tasteless, ordorless gas that is the most abundant constituent of dry air. It comprises 78.09%.
NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS
Rarely seen clouds of tiny ice particles that form approximately 75 to 90 kilometers above the earth's surface. They have been seen only during twilight (dusk and dawn) during the summer months in the higher latitudes. They may appear bright against a dark night sky, with a blue-silver color or orange-red.
NOCTURNAL THUNDERSTORMS
Thunderstorms which develop after sunset. They are often associated with the strengthening of the low level jet and are most common over the Plains states. They also occur over warm water and may be associated with the seaward extent of the overnight land breeze.
NOR'EASTER
A cyclonic storm occurring off the east coast of North America. These winter weather events are notorious for producing heavy snow, rain, and tremendous waves that crash onto Atlantic beaches, often causing beach erosion and structural damage. Wind gusts associated with these storms can exceed hurricane force in intensity. A nor'easter gets its name from the continuously strong northeasterly winds blowing in from the ocean ahead of the storm and over the coastal areas.
NORMAL
The recognized standard value of a meteorological element as it has been averaged in a given location over a fixed number of years. Normals are concerned with the distribution of data within limits of common occurrence. The parameters may include temperatures (high, low, and deviation), pressure, precipitation (rain, snow, etc.), winds (speed and direction), thunderstorms, amount of clouds, percent relative humidity, etc.
NORTH PACIFIC HIGH
A semi-permanent, subtropical area of high pressure in the North Pacific Ocean. It is strongest in the Northern Hemispheric summer and is displaced towards the equator during the winter when the Aleutian Low becomes more dominate. Comparable systems are the Azores High and the Bermuda High.
NOWCAST
A short-term weather forecast for expected conditions in the next few hours.
NUMERICAL FORECASTING
The use of numerical models, such as the fundamental equations of hydrodynamics subjected to observed initial conditions, to forecast the weather. These models are run on high-speed computers at the National Meteorological Center.

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SOURCES

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.