Answers to KTRE Weather Wise Kids Questions

Here's a look at answers to some of our most recent Weather Wise Kids Questions:

Question: How does a weather balloon work? - Devin Nash, 3rd Grade, Central

Answer: Weather balloons are launched from locations all over the United States each morning and evening.  The weather balloons carry several different weather instruments including a thermometer and a barometer.  As the balloons travel high in the sky, they radio back to a computer different weather data including temperature, humidity, pressure, and much more.  That weather data is then used to help develop weather forecast for all over the country.

Question: What is the difference between a cold front and a cool front? -Stephen Thomas, 6th Grade, Hudson

Answer: Some meteorologists use the term "cool front" to describe a cold front that will not cool down temperatures much.  Technically, there is no such thing as a cool front.

Question:  What is the difference between a tornado and a twister? -Anna Dee Bass, 6 Years Old, Diboll

Answer: Twister is just another word for tornado, so they are the same thing.

Question:  How can you tell how far away a tornado is? - Kiana Buchanan, Lufkin

Answer: We can use Doppler radar to detect where a tornado is about to form or where a tornado has formed.  Doppler radar can also be used to show where the tornado is moving and how fast it is moving.  KTRE uses Live Doppler 9, the ONLY live Doppler radar in the Lufkin-Nacogdoches area to track storms across East Texas.  Since our radar shows live, real-time images we can show you at home exactly where a tornado may be and if it is headed for neighborhood.

Question:  Does it have to lightning to cause thunder? - Kiley Grimes, 3rd Grade, Hudson

Answer: Thunder is caused be lightning, so if you hear thunder it was always caused by lightning.  A lightning strike is so hot that it causes the air around it to expand.  When the air expands, we hear the loud boom that we call thunder.

Question:  How do clouds form? - T'Keyah Gardner, 4th Grade, Lufkin

Answer: Clouds form from water that is evaporated by the sun from our lakes, rivers and streams.  When water is evaporated it becomes gas that we call water vapor.  In the sky, there are millions of very tiny dust and dirt particles.  They are so small that we cannot see them.  The water vapor collects on those tiny particles and form something we call cloud droplets.  When enough cloud droplets come together, a cloud is formed.

Question:  How is hail formed? - Dustin Furgeson, 2nd Grade, Lufkin

Answer:  Hail forms in very strong thunderstorms.  As thunderstorms become strong, the thunderstorm clouds reach very high in the sky.  In fact, a thunderstorm cloud can be several miles tall.  The tops of those clouds are very tall.  Within the thunderstorm, there is a lot of upward motion that we call an updraft.  There is also downward motion that we call a downdraft.  The updraft catches some of the rain in the thunderstorm is forces it to the top of the thunderstorm cloud where it freezes and forms hail.  If the updraft is strong enough, the hail stays in the top of the cloud where it keeps getting bigger until the updraft can no longer hold it up.  Then the hail falls to the ground.

Question:  What is the wind chill factor? - J.C. Newman, 2nd Grade, Zavalla

Answer:  The wind chill factor is the "feels like" temperature when the wind makes the temperature feel colder.  When the temperature drops below 45 degrees, wind speeds greater than 5mph can make the temperature feel a good bit colder than what your thermometer reads.  Because of that, meteorologists designed the wind chill factor to give you the "feels like" temperature.

Question: Why does water freeze at 32 degrees?  - Jacob Smith, 5th Grade, Hudson

Answer: 32 degrees is the point that water turns from its liquid form to its solid form.  At that temperature, the structure of water molecules become more rigid forming that solid form that we call ice.