Weather Wednesdays: Bernoulli’s Principle, updrafts and hail

Weather Wednesdays with the Wichita Wind Surge

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – KSN 3 Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman and the Storm Track 3 Weather Team are proud partners with the Wichita Wind Surge!  Every Wednesday, join the Storm Track 3 Weather Team with the help of the Wichita Wind Surge for easy and fun weather experiments you can do at home on KSN.com, Facebook and Twitter!

Today’s experiment discusses Bernoulli’s Principle along with how this plays into the formation of updrafts and hail in thunderstorms.  Bernoulli’s Principle states that the faster the air is moving, the lower the pressure.  This helps to create updrafts in thunderstorms that can sustain the formation of hail.  The stronger the updraft, the larger the hail. 

For this experiment, you will need a ping pong ball and a hair dryer.  Turn the hairdryer on and point it up.  Place the ping pong ball in the flow of air and watch it float.  Gravity will naturally want the ball to fall, but the faster movement of air is holding the ping pong ball suspended in the air.  Try moving the hairdryer from side to side but keep the ping pong ball in the air’s path.  The ball will follow!

Storms have 2 major parts to its anatomy.  An updraft and a downdraft.  The updraft is where the air rises or the storm breathes in.  The downdraft, or how the storm exhales, is where you will find rain and hail.  As a raindrop climbs into the upper portions of the atmosphere, it freezes.  It may try to fall but the storm may not want to let go of it yet.  In the process of this happening, that small piece of ice will collide with other raindrops and pieces of ice to form a hailstone that will eventually be thrown at the ground once the hail is too heavy for the storm to support. 

If you did this experiment, then send us a picture and tune in at 1:30 on Facebook live. 

Items Needed:

  • Blow-dryer
  • Ping pong ball

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