50 Interesting Facts about Rare Weather Phenomena

1Snowvember storm

In August 2015, nine months following the North American “Snowvember” storm, there was a 25-30% spike in the number of babies born in Buffalo, New York.

2. In 2007, Siberia experienced orange snow. It was most likely caused by a heavy sandstorm in neighboring Kazakhstan. Tests on the snow revealed numerous sand and clay dust particles and high iron content, which were blown into Russia from the upper stratosphere.

3. An average cloud weighs 216,000 pounds. An average storm cloud weighs 105.8 million pounds.

4. The United States experiences approximately 75% of all tornadoes in the world.

5. During Hurricane Harvey, the National Weather Service had to add two new colors to the rain accumulation map as the old color key topped out at an amount of rain they never before thought would fall.

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6100-year flood

The term "100-year flood" doesn't mean a flood that happens once in a hundred years. It's actually a flood that has 1% chance of happening within a single year.

7. Lightning serves an important role in the nitrogen cycle by oxidizing diatomic nitrogen in the air into nitrates which are deposited by rain and can fertilize the growth of plants and other organisms.

8. Yungay, Peru was the site of the deadliest avalanche in recorded history. In 1962, two American scientists predicted the calamity and were consequently forced to flee by the government. About 8 years later, their prediction came true and 20,000 people were killed in a day.

9. In 1983, survivors of Australia's infamous "Ash Wednesday" bushfires reported houses exploding before the fire could touch them due to the air pressure change, steaks found cooked well-done in deep freezers, a car moved 90 meters from the cyclonic firestorm and sand turned to glass.

10. It rarely ever snows in Antarctica. Snow in Antarctica has accumulated over millions of years and the temperature there never rises enough for the snow to melt.


Lightning can heat the surrounding air to as hot as 50,000°F, three-time hotter than the surface of the sun. As the superheated air cools, it produces a vacuum. This rapid contraction and expansion of the air is what causes thunder.

12. To see a lunar rainbow or 'moonbow', the moon must not only be full, it also has to be less than 42 degrees in the sky, within 2 to 3 hours before sunrise, and of course, there must be rain falling exactly opposite the moon at that precise moment.

13. The “London Fog” was yellow smog so thick you couldn't see the ground. These "pea soupers" often carried toxic chemicals and one in 1952 killed 4,000 people in 5 days. Due to the Clean Air Act, the last London Fog was in 1962.

14. The world’s largest recorded tsunami occurred in Lituya Bay Alaska in 1958. The wave was 516 metres (1720 feet) in height, and taller than the Empire State Building. It was caused by a landslide which was triggered by an 8.3 magnitude earthquake.

15. A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to 6 months.


There is rain, snow and then there is graupel, which is also called “soft hail.” It forms when supercooled water droplets are collected and freeze on falling snowflakes, forming small balls of rime.

17. The Beijing Weather Modification Office is tasked with creating rain to end the drought, reduce dust storms and prevent unwanted rain, and that between 1995 and 2003, China added 7.4 trillion cubic feet of rainfall artificially.

18. Dust storms in Sahara Desert blow dust all the way to Florida, affecting Florida’s climate and air quality.

19. Over the mouth of the Catatumbo River in Venezuela rages the “Everlasting Lightning Storm.” This area experiences 280 to 3,600 lightning strikes an hour, 300 nights per year. This storm has been a continuous phenomenon for centuries, but the lightning ceased between January and April 2010, apparently due to drought. This raised fears that it might have been extinguished permanently.

20. If a weather forecast gives a 50% chance of precipitation that could mean there is a 100% chance of rain in 50% of the forecast area. The 'probability of precipitation' number frequently used in weather forecasts is widely misunderstood by the public.

21Dust devils

Dust / Dirt devils are called "djin" meaning "genie" or "devil" in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, and Jordan. This is where the mythical genie came from and why genies are typically depicted without legs.

22. A weather phenomenon named "diamond dust" commonly occurs in the Arctic and Antarctic. It is often described as "clear-sky precipitation."

23. The scent of rain is called "Petrichor", and it occurs when rain hits dry earth.

24. Lightning can cause red, jellyfish-shaped flashes as big as 48 by 48 km to appear above thunderclouds. These are called sprites (air spirits), after their elusiveness, and are actually clusters of balls of plasma.

25. The thick toxic smog of 1948 in Donora, Pennsylvania sickened 7000 people and killed 20 people. The smog originated from a U.S. Steel plant, but they never accepted responsibility.



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