Can You Get More Than 11 Right on This Storm Quiz?

By: John Miller

Can You Get More Than 11 Right on This Storm Quiz?
Image: Jessica Moore/Cultura/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Your blue-sky picnic seemed like a perfect moment. But seemingly out of nowhere, a hulking black supercell surged into view, blocking the sun and sending your family and friends running for cover. Our planet’s weather is a finicky thing, and storms are common in many regions. In this lightning-slashed quiz, do you really know much about Earth’s storms?

Thunderstorms are among the most common types of storms. Every minute of every day, thunderstorms are active all around the planet, bringing with them rain, winds, lightning, and all of the potential challenges, like tornadoes, flooding, property destruction and death. Do you know anything about how thunderstorms form?

But thunderstorms are child’s play compared to hurricanes and typhoons. These gargantuan storms don’t just wreck barns and villages, they can wipe out entire coastal regions.

There are a lot of other storm-related phenomena, too, from gustnadoes to straight-line winds and more. Hold onto your hat for this storm quiz!

They're often predictable. Where do hurricanes always form?
On mountains
Near open plains
In jungles
Over warm sea waters
Hurricanes begin over ocean waters. They develop thanks to warm, moist air that begins to rotate … and may turn into a monstrous storm.

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These storms vary a lot. What's the most powerful hurricane category?
Category 5
Category 5 hurricanes are extremely large and dangerous. These storms have sustained winds of nearly 160 mph, making them some of the most destructive storms on Earth.
Category 3
Category 2
Category 1

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What kind of air do thunderstorms need to develop?
Relative humidity over 60 percent
Warm, moist air
Thunderstorms are predictable in some ways. One of those ways? They need warm, moist air to form, which is why in the U.S. these storms are common in summertime.
Air more than 100 degrees
Dry, cool air

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It can sweep away entire towns. During what type of event is "storm surge" a real problem?
Hurricanes
Hurricanes are known for their winds, but also for their storm surge. They are a lot like tsunamis, a wall of water that rushes inland, sweeping away structures and people with ease.
Tornadoes
Dust storms
Firestorm

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Thunderstorms form tall cumulonimbus clouds. These clouds might be how tall?
800 feet
2,500 feet
One mile
More than 10 miles
Cumulonimbus clouds grow like mushrooms in the sky during major thunderstorms. The tallest may exceed well over 10 miles in height.

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The recipe has to be just right. In order for hurricanes to form, ocean waters must be at least what temperature?
48 degrees Fahrenheit
53 degrees Fahrenheit
60 degrees Fahrenheit
79 degrees Fahrenheit
Hurricanes like warm weather. Ocean surface temperatures must be at least 79 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point these cyclones may begin to form.

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A supercell is a type of what?
Thunderstorm
Extremely powerful thunderstorms are called supercells. These massive storms have a distinctive rotation to them, and they can unleash destructive fury upon the land.
Lightning
Straight line wind
Tornado

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It's a name game. A hurricane is a tropical storm that originates in which area?
Atlantic Ocean
Tropical cyclones that form in the Atlantic are called hurricanes. Many hurricanes have come ashore in America in recent years, from the upper East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico.
Great Lakes
Indian Ocean
North Pole

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Run for your lives! What are "black blizzards"?
Rare hurricanes
Snow mixed with ash
The most severe thunderstorms
Wind storms full of dust
Black blizzards were common during the Dust Bowl years. It means fierce winds are blowing clouds of dirt across the landscape.

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They can be life-threatening. What's a hallmark of "ground blizzards"?
Low visibility
In wintertime, high winds can hurl snow from the ground at high speeds, creating low visibility. In cold temperatures​, these ground blizzards can disorient and kill the unprepared.
Tornadoes
Flash flooding
Tremendous precipitation

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The "Tri-State Tornado" scoured the U.S. in 1925. How many people died?
98
112
695
In 1925, the "Tri-State Tornado" whirled through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, at a distance of more than 300 miles. About 695 people died and more than 2,000 were hurt.
8,563

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When would you be most likely to witness a "gustnado"?
During a thunderstorm
They're relatively rare, but thunderstorms may produce gustnados, whipping vortexes that can ​cause serious harm. The worst ones may have the force of an EF-1 tornado.
Near a fire whirl
Inside a hurricane
Never

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How will we survive? At any given moment, there about how many thunderstorms active on our planet?
About 50
About 2,000
Thunderstorms are common, and persistent. At any given time there are about 2,000 of them pummelling the Earth.
About 300
About 15,000

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Why do hurricanes always form near the equator?
Waves are higher there
Because jungles make hurricanes
It's where the sun's rays are hottest.
Because of Earth's spin
The Earth's spin causes the so-called Corioles force, which is weakest at the equator. There, the forces of hurricanes can gather unabated, creating giant storms that travel long distances.

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They aren't always harmless. "Dust devils" are most like what?
Hurricanes
Flash floods
Tornadoes
Dust devils are a bit like small tornadoes, but they can happen on storm-free, sunny days. And although most are just a nuisance, they can sometimes be frightening … and deadly.
Thunderstorms

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Don't trifle with it. The Fujita scale measures what, exactly?
Tornado strength
The Fujita scale denotes the power of a specific tornado. F1 tornadoes are pretty weak; F5 tornadoes can lay waste even to fortified structures.
Storm surge
Rainfall
Lightning strikes

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Run for your lives! What's a key trait of a haboob?
Incredible rain
Intense dust
A haboob is a terrible dust storm that's carried along by a weather front. The dust might be so thick that it coats everything in its path.
Blowing snow
Ice

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They're no slouches. An average hurricane is about how wide?
4 miles
40 miles
90 miles
300 miles
There's a reason they are called "monster" storms. Average hurricanes can be 300 miles wide, with whipping winds and rampaging storm surge.

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You'll not find them in North America. What is a sirocco?
Very high winds
Mediterranean nations often witness sirocco winds in the summertime. These ferocious winds originate in the Sahara and whip up awful dust that can cause health issues.
Waterspout
Thunderstorm
Typhoon

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Thunderstorms often feature fast-rising columns of air. What are these columns called?
Thrusts
Hurricanes
Downdrafts
Updrafts
Updrafts are gusting columns of air that rush up through the atmosphere. Thunderstorms often feature powerful updrafts.

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In particularly strong thunderstorms, updrafts are very fast. They might exceed what speed?
30 mph
45 mph
100 mph
In the right conditions, updrafts scream through the atmosphere. They can routinely blast past 100 mph.
340 mph

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In 2011, a major tornado killed 158 people in Joplin, Missouri. How wide was the funnel cloud on the ground?
About 1 mile
The Joplin tornado ravaged this Missouri town. The enormously powerful funnel cloud was about 1 mile wide, tearing apart buildings as if they were made of straw.​
About a quarter of a mile
500 feet
Perhaps 300 football fields

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How can very strong updrafts affect the formation of hail?
It can make for very large hailstones.
Updrafts cycle hailstones up and down in the sky, often adding more and more heft. Some hailstones become bigger than baseballs and can destroy property.
It sends hailstones into outer space.
It makes very small hailstones.
It has no effect.

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A country is ripped apart. Which nation has had more tornado deaths than any other?
Canada
Cuba
China
Bangladesh
Bangladesh's location and weather make it very susceptible to tornados. The country has suffered -- at minimum -- 19 tornadoes that have each killed at least 100 people.

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It's there that you'll find momentary calm. How wide is the eye of a hurricane?
About 1 to 2 miles
About 20 to 40 miles
Hurricane eyes are a surreally calm place amidst major destruction. The eye can be anywhere from 20 to 40 miles wide.
About 100 to 200 miles
Right around 400 feet

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They aren't everywhere. Where are thunderstorms most likely to form?
In cool areas
On mountaintops
In the mid-latitudes
Because warm, wet air is a necessary variable for thunderstorms, these storms most often form in the mid-latitudes. Air from the Gulf of Mexico often sparks severe thunderstroms on America's plains.
Near the Arctic

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They spin differently. In the Southern Hemisphere, in which direction do hurricanes spin?
Clockwise
Because of the Coriolis force, hurricane spin in different directions depending on their location. In the Southern Hemisphere, they're clockwise; in the Northern Hemisphere, it's the other way around.
Upwards
Counter-clockwise
Downward

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The 1925 Tri-State Tornado was the deadliest in U.S. history. How fast did it move on the ground?
Just 4 mph
About 12 mph
Roughly 38 mph
Perhaps 73 mph
Commence nightmares. Not only was the Tri-State Tornado huge and powerful, but it was also​ the fastest-moving F5 tornado ever, hitting speeds of 73 mph.

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They're sporadic at best. What happens to the vast majority of thunderstorms?
They rain for less than an hour and then disappear.
The vast majority of thunderstorms are pretty harmless. They bloom and rain for about an hour, and then vanish in the skies above.
They're gone in less than 90 seconds.
They create mostly lightning.
They don’t stop until they've destroyed at least one farm.

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What was special about 1979's Typhoon Tip?
It killed more people than any other storm.
It was the strongest typhoon ever recorded.
Typhoon Tip was more powerful than any hurricane ever recorded. Its high winds stretched for nearly 1,400 miles -- twice as big as the previous record (Typhoon Marge).
It hit the "tip" of the U.S.
It ruined one whole city.

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Get your history on! Where did the Great Storm of 1703 take place?
Gary, Indiana
London
The Great Storm of 1703 was a huge cyclone that smashed into London. Thousands of structures were destroyed and perhaps 15,000 people perished.
Antarctica
Des Moines

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Modern forecasters work very hard to determine it. How predictable is the path of a hurricane?
Not very predictable
Even with all of our modern tools, hurricane paths remain hard to predict. Experienced forecasters frantically prepare civilians for a wide range of landfall areas.
Pretty predictable
Absolutely random
Easy to determine

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What might you find in the area of a hurricane's eye wall?
Very heavy rain
The eye itself is calm. The eye wall? Not so much. This part of the hurricane can have crazy thick clouds and sheets of rain that cause tremendous flooding.
Wall of fire
Winds more than 400 mph
Tornados

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Not all of them are the same. Which of the following types of thunderstorms is most likely to cause destruction?
Supercells
Supercells are the atomic bombs of thunderstorms. Their immense power can blossom in just minutes, spitting out lightning and tornadoes with terrific ferocity.
Single-cell
Multi-cell cluster
Multi-cell lines

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Supercells are massive and powerful storms. How long might they last?
Typically minutes
Days
Hours
Supercells can last for hours. They might drift across more than one state, triggering flooding, spawning tornadoes, and generally scaring people half to death.
A few seconds

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You Got:
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