Atmospheric phenomena

atmospheric phenomena

We know that of all the layers of the atmosphere there are only atmospheric phenomena in the troposphere. The atmospheric phenomena They take place all over the world and depend on the amount of solar radiation, degree of inclination of the solar rays, atmospheric pressure, wind regime, temperature and many other variables.

In this article we are going to tell you what are the main atmospheric phenomena that exist and what are their characteristics.

Atmospheric phenomena

clouds and atmospheric phenomena

Storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes

They are strong atmospheric disturbances, accompanied by wind, thunder and lightning and heavy rain. They produce vertically developed clouds, so-called cumulonimbus clouds. It consists of low levels of very hot and sufficiently humid air or cold high-altitude air (sometimes both).

Rain occurs when clouds gather to form larger and larger drops of water, which are blocked in the air by the wind. When these clouds become very heavy, the water falls due to gravity and will cause rain, which is defined as the dripping or precipitation of water droplets due to the condensation of water vapor in the atmosphere.

The tornado corresponds to a small depression or storm, but of great intensity, which gives rise to a visible eddy called Chimney that falls from a mother cloud of a storm. With the name of Cyclone, Hurricane or typhoon, depending on the areas, it is called a center of very pronounced low pressures, with strong winds and rains. It usually occurs between 8º and 15º latitude North and South and moves west.

The diameter of tornadoes can vary from a few meters or tens of meters to hundreds of meters. The wind generated in a tornado can become very strong. The pressure drops significantly from the outside towards the center of the tornado, causing the air around the vortex to be sucked into the inner low pressure zone, where the low pressure zone expands and cools rapidly, usually in droplet shape, forming a typical observable funnel. The low internal pressure of the vortex will pick up debris, such as dirt particles or other particles, which will be carried with it and fly on its way, making the tornado appear dark.

Hail and snow

Hail begins with strong winds and the temperature is very low, strong winds then drag large drops of water, when freezing it can produce hail or hail that can reach several centimeters in diameter. It is defined as a solid precipitation formed by spherical, conical or biconvex ice particles under its own weight.

When the temperature is below 0ºC, snowflakes begin to fall. These flakes are made up of tiny ice crystals and their rate of fall is very low.

Atmospheric phenomena according to the type of cloud

cloud formation

Hot air rising to the highest level in the atmosphere gradually cools as it rises, causing water vapor to condense into tiny droplets, forming clouds.

Clouds are one of the most common atmospheric phenomena and are usually the most visible. The appearance of this phenomenon is affected by a number of thermodynamic factors, which are basically related to humidity, pressure and temperature, but this does not eliminate the fact that when determining its importance. The phenomenon has a certain degree of subjectivity due to its physical nature and direct action. When setting standards for different types of clouds and their appearance, observing them from the ground or via satellites is the main element of judgment.

There are 3 main types of clouds according to their shape and consequences:

  • Cirrus: They are clouds that appear at great height; they are thin, delicate, with a fibrous structure; often feathery and always white.
  • Cumulus clouds: They are clouds that always appear as individual cloud masses, with a flat base, and frequently develop in the form of vertical domes, whose structure resembles that of cauliflower, they are the classic clouds, bright white in the areas exposed to the Sun and gray dark in the shadow ones.
  • Strata: They are clouds that extend in the form of a layer, covering all, or a large part, of the sky. The stratum type generally consists of a continuous cloud layer that may present some cracks, but in which the presence of individual cloud units cannot be differentiated, that is, they are uniform banks of clouds that bring rain and drizzle, very widespread and with a uniform structure. Nimbus: (low clouds, dark gray rainy clouds).

Other atmospheric phenomena

rainbow after the rain

Atmospheric phenomena not only include precipitation and elements that are related to clouds. Let's see what the other types of atmospheric phenomena are:


It is one of the most famous and beautiful phenomena that occur in the sky. They occur when it rains, when the raindrops act as mirrors, scattering light in all directions, decomposing and forming rainbows. This is formed by the arc formed by the sun's rays that hit the drop of water and scatter at an angle of ~ 138 degrees. Light enters the drop, then retracts, then moves to the other end of the drop and reflects off its inner surface, and finally refracts into decomposed light as it exits the drop. The rainbow usually lasts 3 hours and is always seen in the opposite direction from the sun.


Auroras are phenomena that occur at latitudes close to the earth's magnetic poles because they are produced by the interaction of the earth's magnetic poles and particles carried by the solar wind. When the particles reach the earth, they collide with molecules in the upper atmosphere, exciting them (ionizing them), a fact that produces the well-known aurora. Depending on the hemisphere they are in, they are called northern or southern auroras. Usually, the aurora can only be seen at latitudes above 65º (eg Alaska, Canada), but during periods of active solar activity (such as solar storms), it can even be seen from low latitudes around 40º. These phenomena can last about an hour and, if they are active, they can last all night.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the main atmospheric phenomena that exist and their characteristics.

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