10 Weather Words You Need To Know

Amazing Weather Words

People talk about the weather all the time. It's a constant in our lives. That said, we present this list of 10 weather words we think you need to know. We tried to focus on winter weather, but then we'd have to leave out haboob, and that just can't happen. We won't include the swear words you mutter under your breath as you shovel off the driveway for the fifth time this month, either. Remember the first day of spring is March 20.


People head to the stores to stock up on bread and milk for this one, and the news stations offer "team coverage." Weatherdudes.com says "when a low pressure system or mid-latitude cyclone moves off of the East Coast of the United States during the colder months of the year, there is a tendency for many of them to intensify rapidly due to the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream and the positioning of the low between two very different air masses. The air mass to the storm's north and west is usually very cold and dry, while the air mass to the storm's south and east is very warm and moist. The storm's rapid intensification is known as bombogenesis."


Frazil are "ice crystals formed in turbulent water, as in swift streams or rough seas." So much more exciting than just calling it ice-in-the-river!


An haboob is "a thick dust storm or sandstorm that blows in the deserts of North Africa and Arabia or on the plains of India." Their dust storm cousins also hit the United States—just ask anyone who lives in Phoenix.

Crepuscular ray

When you sit on the porch admiring the sunset, you might be looking at one of these. We define it as "a twilight ray of sunlight shining through breaks in high clouds and illuminating dust particles in the air."


You know how it smells outside after a rainstorm? There's a word for that, of course. Petrichor is the distinct scent of rain in the air. Or, to be more precise, it’s the name of an oil that’s released from the earth into the air before rain begins to fall.


This word (sastrugi in the plural form) means "ridges of snow formed on a snowfield by the action of the wind." It's beautiful in an open field, and a differently kind of awe inspiring in a parking lot you're supposed to plow.


If you're out adventuring and you see a williwaw headed your way, take cover. Dictionary.com cites this as "a violent squall that blows in near-polar latitudes, as in the Strait of Magellan, Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands." This may very well lead to what's known as a three-dog night.


This is another storm you want to avoid. A derecho is a widespread and severe windstorm that moves rapidly along a fairly straight path, and is associated with bands of rapidly moving thunderstorms. In some instances, media will refer to derechos as inland hurricanes!


We define this as "a halo, nimbus, or aureole." When ice crystals are suspended in the atmosphere, this is what happens. Mental Floss says "this optical phenomenon causes a bright circle or rainbow around the sun or moon, 22 degrees away from the center of the object. To differentiate between a gloriole and the related 'corona' phenomenon (caused by water droplets, and much closer to the sun or moon), if you put your palm over the sun and extend your fingers, they should reach about 20 degrees from the center." Where's Bill Nye the Science Guy when you need him, anyway?