You don't get hurricanes in Kansasthough you do find tornadoes in Florida, and just about anyplace in the nation. El Niño affects the Northwestern states very differently from the Southwest. Some say North America has the wildest weather of any place on Earth, but in terms of numbers of lives lost to severe weather, that's no longer true. Many thousands died in the devastating floods brought to Central America by Hurricane Mitch, and tens of thousands perish in the periodic devastation of Bangladesh by cyclones and typhoons. What is correct is that North America has a unique mix of wild weather of all kinds, from Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes to blizzards in the Plains and mountains, flash floods to droughts, tornadoes, tsunamis and seasonal El Niño driven variability. Why so? Because the United States spans an entire continent, with oceans and islands on either side, and with a tropical zone to the South and polar conditions to the North. America's mid-latitudes are thus a kind of battle zone for all kinds of different weather systems, making the study of weather and climate something unusually rewarding for meteorologists and students of all ages. This section of the website shows you why and how the United States experiences violent outbreaks of just about every kind of extreme weather you can find anywhere on the planet.
Start your exploration of the geography of weather with our unique interactive map which transforms National Weather Service data on the most significant weather events of 1999 into a "point and click" experience. Recall the big storms that hit your regionand contrast what you experienced with folks living in other states across the nation. (We hope to add a global counterpart to this intriguing graphic in coming months.)
As we continue to add more information and images to this section, you'll be able to discover how land and sea shape weather, and why coastal areas experience very different conditions from the heart of a continental land mass. You'll see why we can speak about "mountain weather," and how elevation and altitude impact both day to day weather and climate over the decades. This is also the place to look at the jet streams which blow in enduring patterns high over our world, and see what changes in weather and climate result when they do sometimes shift course. There are also "streams" of hotter and colder water in the oceans, flowing in predictable ways even when there are no river banks to guide them.
No matter where you live, this section of the website will leave you with a new understanding of how the geography and physical conditions of where you live affects the weather and climate you experience.