September – Thunderstorms

This month’s experiment’s delayed  posting is due to Hurricane Irene – which caused my loss of power. Thus it is fitting that this month the experiment will explain another much more common weather condition – thunderstorms.

A thunderstorm is caused when warm air rises and mixes with cold air in the atmosphere.  As the warm air rises, it condenses releasing latent heat which  fuels the thunderstorm. You can demonstrate this process to residents with room temperature water, a plastic baking dish, ice cube tray and red and blue food coloring. Prior to the experiment, make a few blue colored ice cubes.

Process:  Fill a clear 9 by 13 inch baking pan 3/4ths full with fresh water. Make sure the water is still. Without disturbing the pan, add a blue dyed ice cube to one end of the pan and two drops of red food coloring to the other end of the pan.

Result: The blue cold water sinks and the red warm water rises to demonstrate the transfer of heat within the water.  This experiment shows how cold and warm air mix in the atmosphere and create thunderstorms.

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