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Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. On Earth, most weather phenomena occur in the lowest layer of the planet's atmosphere, the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers to day-to-day temperature, precipitation, and other atmospheric conditions, whereas climate is the term for the averaging of atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time. When used without qualification, "weather" is generally understood to mean the weather of Earth.

Weather is driven by air pressure, temperature, and moisture differences between one place and another. These differences can occur due to the Sun's angle at any particular spot, which varies with latitude. The strong temperature contrast between polar and tropical air gives rise to the largest scale atmospheric circulations: the Hadley cell, the Ferrel cell, the polar cell, and the jet stream. Weather systems in the middle latitudes, such as extratropical cyclones, are caused by instabilities of the jet streamflow. Because Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbital plane (called the ecliptic), sunlight is incident at different angles at different times of the year. On Earth's surface, temperatures usually range ±40 °C (−40 °F to 104 °F) annually. Over thousands of years, changes in Earth's orbit can affect the amount and distribution of solar energy received by Earth, thus influencing long-term climate and global climate change.

Surface temperature differences in turn cause pressure differences. Higher altitudes are cooler than lower altitudes, as most atmospheric heating is due to contact with the Earth's surface while radiative losses to space are mostly constant. Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a future time and a given location. Earth's weather system is a chaotic system; as a result, small changes to one part of the system can grow to have large effects on the system as a whole. Human attempts to control the weather have occurred throughout history, and there is evidence that human activities such as agriculture and industry have modified weather patterns

Studying how the weather works on other planets has been helpful in understanding how weather works on Earth. A famous landmark in the Solar System, Jupiter's Great Red Spot, is an anticyclonic storm known to have existed for at least 300 years. However, the weather is not limited to planetary bodies. A star's corona is constantly being lost to space, creating what is essentially a very thin atmosphere throughout the Solar System. The movement of mass ejected from the Sun is known as the solar wind. ( Full article...)

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The sun, street light and Parallax edit.jpg

Parallax is the phenomenon of the change in the apparent position of an object when viewed from different angles. It is demonstrated nicely in this foggy scene, where the reflection of the moon appears in a different position with respect to the street lamp when viewed in the reflection in the water.

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A jet stream is a fast flowing, relatively narrow air current found at the tropopause, the transition between the troposphere (where temperature decreases with height) and the stratosphere (where temperature increases with height). Jet streams are typically located at 10-15 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. They form near boundaries of adjacent air masses with significant differences in temperature, such as the polar region and the warmer air to the south. The path of the jet typically has a meandering shape, and these meanders known as Rossby waves. Rossby waves propagate westward with respect to the flow in which they are embedded, which translates to a slower eastward migration across the globe than smaller scale short wave troughs. The major jet streams are westerly winds (flowing west to east) in the Northern Hemisphere.

During the summer, low-level easterly jets can form in tropical regions. A southerly low level jet in the Great Plains of North America helps fuel overnight thunderstorm activity, normally in the form of mesoscale convective systems. A similar northerly low-level jet can form across Australia, instigated by cut-off lows which develop across southwest portions of the country.

Meteorologists use the location of the jet stream as an aid in weather forecasting. The main commercial use of the jet stream is during airline travel, as flying long distances along the jet stream can cut hours off a long distance trip. One type of clear-air turbulence is found in the jet stream's vicinity, which can be a hazard to aircraft. One future benefit of the jet stream could be to augment power generation within the next 10 to 20 years, if technological hurdles can be overcome.

General configuration of the main upper-level jet streams.

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Did you know...

...that a hurricane force wind warning is issued by the United States National Weather Service for storms that are not tropical cyclones but are expected to produce hurricane-force winds (65 knots (75 mph; 120 km/h) or higher)?

...that the Automated Tropical Cyclone Forecasting System is a software package for tropical cyclone forecasting developed in 1988 that is still used today by meteorologists in various branches of the US Government?

...that a cryoseism is a sudden ground or glacier movement that can occur due to water freezing or ice cracking after drastic temperature changes?

...that BUFR is a binary data format standardized by the World Meteorological Organization for storing observation data from weather stations and weather satellites?

...that the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center issues weather forecasts for conditions that can cause avalanches in the mountains of western Washington and northwestern Oregon?

...that a wind chill warning is issued by the National Weather Service when a combination of wind and cold temperatures is expected to cause life-threatening conditions for anyone caught outside?

Recent and ongoing weather

This week in weather history...

September 10

1931: A major hurricane killed as many as 2,500 people in Belize.

September 11

1995: Hurricane Marilyn began a three-day track through the Leeward Islands, causing more than $1 billion in damage.

September 12

1992: Hurricane Iniki devastated the island of Kauai, causing more than $2 billion (2006 USD) in damage.

September 13

1948: A hurricane passed just west of Bermuda, causing major damage on the island and killing six people.

September 14

2005: A devastating landslide caused by record amounts of rainfall killed three people near Bergen, Norway.

September 15

1995: Hurricane Ismael struck the Mexican state of Sinaloa, killing 116 people.

September 16

1967: Hurricane Doria made landfall near the border of Virginia and North Carolina, moving in a very unusual southward direction. No major damage was reported, though three people were killed off the shore of New Jersey when their small boat sunk.

Selected biography

Portrait of Sir George Gabriel Stokes

Sir George Gabriel Stokes, 1st Baronet, PRS ( /stks/; 13 August 1819 – 1 February 1903) was an Irish English physicist and mathematician. Born in County Sligo, Ireland, Stokes spent all of his career at the University of Cambridge, where he was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics from 1849 until his death in 1903. As a physicist, Stokes made seminal contributions to fluid mechanics, including the Navier–Stokes equations and to physical optics, with notable works on polarization and fluorescence. As a mathematician, he popularised " Stokes' theorem" in vector calculus and contributed to the theory of asymptotic expansions. Stokes, along with Felix Hoppe-Seyler, first demonstrated the oxygen transport function of hemoglobin and showed color changes produced by aeration of hemoglobin solutions.

Stokes was made a baronet (hereditary knight) by the British monarch in 1889. In 1893 he received the Royal Society's Copley Medal, then the most prestigious scientific prize in the world, "for his researches and discoveries in physical science". He represented Cambridge University in the British House of Commons from 1887 to 1892, sitting as a Conservative. Stokes also served as president of the Royal Society from 1885 to 1890 and was briefly the Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge. ( Full article...)

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The scope of WikiProject Weather is to have a single location for all weather-related articles on Wikipedia.

WikiProject Meteorology is a collaborative effort by dozens of Wikipedians to improve the quality of meteorology- and weather-related articles. If you would like to help, visit the project talk page, and see what needs doing.

WikiProject Severe weather is a similar project specific to articles about severe weather. Their talk page is located here.

WikiProject Tropical cyclones is a daughter project of WikiProject meteorology. The dozens of semi-active members and several full-time members focus on improving Wikipdia's coverage of tropical cyclones.

WikiProject Non-tropical storms is a collaborative project to improve articles related to winter storms, wind storms, and extratropical cyclones.

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