Five Classic Weather Questions----The Answers May Surprise You

When it comes to weather, there are endless questions!  I thought I would  investigate a few that we think we already know the answers to.  I  tried to use some different sources, not just Wikipedia, and I hope you  find reading  this as much fun as I did  doing the research.  Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Does lightning ever strike the same place twice?

Yes, lightning CAN strike the same place twice.  Jesse Ferrell on writes,  “Places like the Empire State Building get struck 100 times a year. And besides, a lightning strike  is actually composed of several different strikes travelling over the same path.”

In an experiment conducted in 2003, reports that the same cloud-to-ground lightning strike often strikes twice, or even three times! They found the average “strike” hits 1.45 places on earth.  You can read the story  here.

2. Can it really rain cats and dogs? 

Maybe it’s never actually happened, but where did that expression come from?

Farmers’ Almanac contributing editor Richard Lederer offers this explanation—“In the Dark Ages, people believed that animals, including cats and dogs, had magical powers. Cats were associated with storms, especially the black cats of witches, while dogs were frequently associated with winds. The Norse storm god Odin was frequently shown surrounded by dogs and wolves. So when a particularly violent storm came along, people would say ‘It’s raining cats and dogs,’ with the cats symbolizing the rain and the dogs representing the wind and storm.”

3. Does the full moon make people crazy?

Werewolves notwithstanding, in this case, perception may shape reality. According to Mental Floss, there seems to be no statistical correlation between full moons and crazy behavior, yet nurses and police officers would swear that there is. I admit I am also not quite convinced.

What about the effect of the full moon on the tides–perhaps there is a connection with people’s mood swings, as we, too, are mostly water?

4. How many words for snow do Eskimos have?

Writing on Linguistic Anthropology for, Jennifer Horton first points out that the term Eskimo is misleading–it refers to any number of indigenous peoples living in the subarctic regions. Three of the larger groups are the Inuit, Yupik and the Aleut.  Among these main groups there are five languages, which can be broken down into numerous dialects.

She further explains,”The main problem with the assumption that Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow, though, lies in the way the languages are constructed: Eskimo languages are agglutinative, meaning they tend to create large words out of many smaller ones….In reality, the list of basic, snow-related root words is not that long. There’s ‘qani’ for snowflake, ‘api’ for snow on the ground and several other words to indicate things like ‘slush,’ ‘blizzard’ and ‘drift.’ It’s simply because of the way Eskimoan languages stick suffixes on root words to form new words that people mistakenly perpetuate the 100-words-for-snow myth.”

In other words, there could be an infinite number of words for snowy conditions!  A word for sun-on-fresh-fallen-snow, snow-blowing-in-your-face,  not-so-pretty-melting-snow, etc.  Use your imagination and see how many you can come up with…

5.  Is hell hot or cold?

According to an article in the Weekly World News, a leading theologian claims to have discovered the temperature of hell! In a five-year study of ancient religious texts, including portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Stanford Brice found references comparing the temperature of hell to a rock heated in a fire. Conducting experiments by heating rocks in fire, Dr. Brice determined the average temperature was 285 degrees Fahrenheit.

Perhaps the classical authority on hell would be Dante himself, in his poetic journey in the Inferno, the first book of  the Divine  Comedy.  Dante divides hell into upper and lower regions—the Upper Circles of hell are depictions of  flames and lakes of fire, but  Lower Hell is oppressively heavy and unimaginably cold. In Cantos XXXI- XXXIV of the Inferno, Dante describes the 9th and deepest circle of hell–Cocytus, an eternally dark and  frozen plain. Souls of  traitors are encased in ice “as straws in glass”.  At the very center of the lowest circle is 3-faced Satan, a grotesque parody of the Holy Trinity, his six great wings blowing freezing winds. Fortunately, Dante and Virgil weren’t standing around waiting for a bus!  There is no reference to the wind chill factor.


Does this inspire some weather questions of your own?  Please write me in the comments section, and I will do my best to answer them.

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  • Great post. I love your Dante allusion.I'm reading Dan Brown's new thriller "Inferno" now. He uses Dante's Hell as a frame of reference. Keep up the good work.

  • Thank you so much!! I am glad you enjoyed the post---Yes, Inferno is great story and poetry---what do you think of Dan Brown's book?

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    I'm right in the middle of it now. Riveting. Set in Florence, Dante's hometown.

  • Poor Dante, exiled from Florence. There is a mystery surrounding his ashes turning up in Florence,though (by the way, I found on a Dante website that his real first name was Durante! Dante was a sort of nickname.).

    Thank you for your daily posts! Enjoy them every day.....

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