Sharon Koehler

Stone Industry Consultant

Haboob: A wind-blown wall of sand and dust. The best thing that can be said about this weather phenomenon is that you can see it coming.

Haboob: A wind-blown wall of sand and dust. The best thing that can be said about this weather phenomenon is that you can see it coming.

Let’s face it, the weather is becoming more of a factor every day. Floods, hurricanes, wildfires (while not technically weather they are affected by and have effects on our weather.), tornados, blizzards, monsoons, typhoons, droughts, soring temperatures, and on and on it goes.

Weather affects our businesses. If there is 2 feet of snow on the ground, not all employees are coming to work, or you are closing all together. If floods are causing road closures, you may not be able to make it to a job site. Electrical outages caused by storms can affect the timing and flow of your work schedule. In one way or another, weather affects us all.

That being said, weather forecasts have some very specific terms that we should understand so we can properly plan. Not all terms apply to every part of the earth. Hurricanes are usually confined to coastal areas; haboobs are generally in the flatlands and floods are generally in the lowlands. Being familiar with the different terms in your area can be helpful.

Wind Chill
– This is fairly well known. It’s a decrease in the overall temperature due to wind speed. If the outside temperature is 40 degrees and the wind is blowing 20 mph, it feels like 30 degrees outside. That’s a much colder feeling and extra layers may be needed.

Atmospheric Pressure
– This is the force exerted by the atmosphere around us. High pressure usually means good weather while low pressure leans towards stormy weather.

Cirrus Clouds
– They indicate a change in the weather and are most common before a storm.

Nimbus Clouds
– They carry precipitation like rain or snow.

Atmospheric River
– This is a long, narrow band of strong precipitation that can introduce an overwhelming amount of rain into an area and cause flooding, mudslides and other issues.

Critical Fire Weather Pattern
aka Red Flag Warning – This is a weather pattern that increases fire danger or helps fires spread, usually hot, dry, windy, conditions.

Dust Devil
– A small, energetic whirlwind that forms from the ground up in sunny weather. They are smaller and not as powerful as tornados and normally only last a few minutes.

– This is precipitation that falls from the clouds but evaporates before it gets to ground level. In other words, nothing to worry about.

t – This is a strong, horizontal wind associated with thunderstorms. Windspeed can be up to 130 mph.

– This is a small, horizontal, outward burst of wind that can happen in wet or dry conditions and usually only last 5-10 minutes with wind speeds reaching 100 mph.

El Nino
– We hear about this from time to time, but do we know what it means? An El Nino climate pattern is when the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific are warming. This warming causes disruptions to normal weather. The El Nino effect is generally warmer conditions in the south, fewer hurricanes in the east (Atlantic Ocean) and milder winters in the north. An El Nino pattern appears every 2 to 7 years and lasts 9-12 months.

La Nina
– This climate pattern is the opposite of El Nino. A La Nina climate pattern happens when the sea surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean cools leading to colder temps in the north, droughts in the south and more Atlantic hurricanes. Like El Nino, this pattern occurs every 2 to 7 years and lasts 9-12 months, however, La Nina does not always follow El Nino.

2024 started out in El Nino and experts predict it will dissipate in early spring and La Nina will arrive in late spring/early summer of 2024.

– This is literally a fast-moving wall of sand and dust being pushed along by wind at the earth’s surface. The good news is that you can usually see one coming. The bad news is that they reduce visibility to almost zero causing accidents and they can irritate the lungs and eyes.

– This is a severe, straight-line windstorm associated with quick moving thunderstorms. If the wind damaged area is 240 miles or more with sustained winds of 58 mph or more over the majority of the damaged area, it is classified as a derecho. This wind event can damage buildings, cause power outages and other issues.

Watch vs Warning
– A weather watch (storm, tornado, hurricane, etc.) means that weather conditions are favorable for severe weather developments and to take necessary precautions. A warning means severe weather has occurred and is or almost is upon you and you need to take immediate steps to protect yourself.

The terms for weather go on and on and this is by no means a complete list. (I assume we all know words like blizzard, wind gusts, thunderstorm, etc.) Also, truthfully, the weather isn’t always bad. A lot of times it is perfectly fine with no consequences or worries. 

However, looking ahead to see what is looming on the horizon may be helpful. It’s not beneficial to anyone to schedule a patio or outdoor kitchen install if it is going to pour down rain that day, nor is scheduling anything when there is a hurricane a comin’ particularly wise. Or maybe that stone walkway can be scheduled early in the morning if it is going to be a scorching hot day. 

We don’t need to be held hostage by our ever changing weather but learning how to work with it may be our best option and cause way fewer headaches for us all.


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