Why Can I See My Breath in Cold Weather?

 

It’s a chilly fall morning as you head outside to grab the mail, but wait… you can see your breath! That’s how you know winter is right around the corner and cold weather is coming. Have you ever wondered why you can see your breath in these chilly temperatures? It’s a simple answer: water.

While many attribute the visible breath solely to falling temperatures, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere is just as important. The perfect combination of temperature and humidity is actually the cause of the age-old phenomenon.

The Science Behind It All


The human body is made up of nearly 70 percent water, which causes the air in our lungs to be almost completely saturated in water vapor, which is water in its gas form. This water vapor is the same temperature as our bodies, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air, which is often why cold winter days feel so dry and hot summer days are thick with humidity

When you exhale a breath filled with the warm air from your lungs, it enters the cold atmosphere of a winter day. The cold air immediately lowers the temperature of our breath and briefly reaches a dew point. A dew point is the exact temperature the air needs to be at to achieve humidity.

 

Air cannot hold water vapor at dew point, causing the gas to turn to liquid form, or water vapor to water. This is the process of condensation and what makes up that little foggy cloud we see in the cold. The transformation of gas to liquid creates miniscule water droplets visible to the human eye.

This is a great way to visualize exactly how far things travel when you’re simply breathing and speaking. These tiny water molecules in your breath spread just as easily in every type of weather. All the more reason to wear a mask to prevent spreading germs!

Just How Cold Does it Have to Be?

There is no exact temperature in which condensation is guaranteed to occur. As we know, the relative humidity in the air is a contributing environmental factor that goes into the equation of visible breath. However, when the temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see your breath.

 

 

 

Now the next time you see your breath on a cold day, you’ll know you’re seeing the process of condensation in action.

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The Science Behind a Frosty Lawn

As the weather gets increasingly colder, you may notice a sheen layer of frost coating the grass every morning. But what’s the science behind the winter-weather phenomenon? Let’s find out! 

What exactly is frost?

Frost is actually just water vapor in the air that has deposited itself as ice onto a surface—usually something close to the ground, such as grass. Water exists in three states: solid, liquid, and gas. Frost is the effect of water turning from a gas (water vapor) into a solid (ice). 

You’re probably familiar with the layer of dew that sometimes coats grass. Well, frost is just frozen dew!

 

 

 

How does it form?

Frost only forms on a surface when the temperature is below freezing, 32 degrees Fahrenheit. A blade of grass actually loses energy by emitting a non-lethal form of radiation. After losing this energy, it absorbs energy from surrounding objects to replenish. When a blade of grass loses more energy than it gains, it becomes cold enough for the water vapor to cling on and form frost. 

Why do I only see it in the morning?

Not only does the temperature obviously drop overnight, but the lack of sunlight is actually what causes the grass to lose more energy than it gains. This sets off the process described above to create the frost that you see from your window in the early morning hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the effects?

While a light frost can look cool, it is actually quite harmful to grass. A blade of grass needs to keep the water moving through to the roots to stay alive and healthy. The frost freezes the water inside the blade, halting the process and causing damage to the cell walls. After several frosty mornings, the lawn may begin to show damage through yellow or brown patches and could eventually die. 

Luckily, you can take steps to protect your lawn from frost. Refrain from stepping on the frosty grass, try to mow the lawn later in the day when the temperature rises, and remove any unnecessary items from the yard that may cause shady areas. 

Essentially, that morning frost is the result of the perfect mixture of cold temperatures and energy transference. Next time you see a frosty morning, you’ll now know the science behind the scene!

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Monsoon madness: What’s this watery summer weather?

It’s easy to forget about types of weather that occur outside of our own backyards, especially during the summer months of sunshine. The wonders of our planet and its most essential resource never cease to amaze us, though, and that’s why we’re so fascinated by a summer weather phenomenon called monsoons.  

A monsoon, according to National Geographic, is a seasonal change in the winds of the area that alter the climate of the region. This phenomenon is common in areas close to the Indian Ocean, like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladeshand Myanmar, but it also occurs in the southwestern United States. Clearly, our eight Aqua states don’t typically see this type of weather, so we’re extra curious about it! 

There are two kinds of monsoons: dry and wet. A wet monsoon causes heavy rain in a region, while a dry monsoon does the opposite. This video from NASA does a great job of explaining how and why monsoons form. 

 

Monsoons mostly affect North America in the middle of summer, from July to September. In fact, states like New Mexico and Arizona get half of their annual rainfall during monsoon season. Fun fact: The wettest monsoon recorded in U.S. history was in 1984, with 9.56 inches of fallen rain. These records include numbers traced back to 1896. 

Usually, monsoons are beneficial to the areas they affect. Because these storms often occur after long periods of drought, the moisture they bring is replenishing and fruitful to the plants in the ecosystem. The high levels of rain can also aid firefighters battling wildfires in extremely dry areas.

Not all effects of monsoons are simple and benign, though. Since the affected land has often been bone-dry for so long, it can only soak up so much water at once. The rest of the water sits on top of the parched land, causing flash floods even from small amounts of rain. On top of flooding, monsoons can also bring lightning storms and massive dust storms called haboobs that can pose additional safety concerns for the affected communities, especially for people caught off guard while driving.

People who live in parts of the U.S. where monsoons occur are usually aware of necessary precautions. But for tourists, business travelers, or even new neighbors in the southwest, it’s important to know how to prep for monsoon season. In fact, paying attention to weather forecasts and having an emergency supply kit on hand are good summer weather tips for people living in any part of the country, especially during Hurricane Season.

What other types of watery weather pique your interest? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter

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How to Prepare for Hurricane Season Before Diving into Summer Fun

We know you’re excited for the summer season. You have everything prepared: extra sunscreen, beach towels, sunglasses and plenty of water.

What about hurricane season though?

The National Weather Service  classifies hurricane season as June 1 through November 30. Although extreme weather can be daunting, don’t panic: There are simple ways to be prepared for interruptions in water service.

If your local meteorologist warns of a looming hurricane, here’s what you need to know to make sure you and your family remain safe and secure.  

Make a Hurricane Kit

If your water and power go out, chances are you will need some supplies to keep you and your family as comfortable as possible. Make sure to keep up to 72 hours worth of supplies in a safe, dry place. This includes bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights, candles and even some fun items like decks of cards or board games. Click here for a full list compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Save Water

Make sure to save water in advance of a hurricane. Pitchers, pots and bathtubs are good places to store extra water from your faucets in case water service is indeed interrupted.

How to Boil Water

Once water service is restored, Aqua will likely issue a precautionary boil advisory to ensure your water is purified and safe to use. Boiling your water before using it for drinking or cooking is a crucial step in ensuring the safety of you and your family.

Here’s a handy instructional guide:

If possible, infants and pregnant women should use bottled or stored water instead of boiled tap water for drinking and cooking during a boil advisory.

Stay Connected

Make sure to keep an eye on the following channels to ensure you receive any updates from Aqua about boil advisories or water services.

After the storm has passed, Aqua will collect water samples once service is restored and will run tests to ensure that no bacteriological contamination took place during repairs or periods of pressure loss. These laboratory tests might take a couple of days to complete.

With a stocked hurricane kit, extra water on hand and a pledge not to panic, you’re as prepared for hurricane season as one can be. Now it’s time to get back to the beach!

For additional information, reach out to our customer service representatives at 887-987-2782, or visit us at AquaAmerica.com to sign up to sign up for WaterSmart alerts.

 

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