POSTED: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 11:34am
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 1:18pm
Many people pass on weather myths that just are not true
Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 — There are so many weather/meteorology myths that I hear, at least a few times a week. In today’s “Weather Talk” Many of these weather related myths that we accept as fact because we here them repeated by family and friends all our lives, they must be true! I was guilty of believing a few until I learned about the reasons why they were not scientifically correct in some of my meteorology courses. I thought I would address and debunk a few of these legends and myths right now.
Myth #1 Tear Drop Shaped Rain Drops
When we think of a rain drop we think of a teardrop shape. Maybe because of the many artist renditions we have seen throughout our lives. In fact, a small falling raindrop is almost a perfect sphere, and large drops have a flattened bottom because of wind resistance as they fall. The teardrop shape that is frequently drawn with a tail is most likely from watching a drop on a window or similar surface where surface tension does tend to stretch out a drop's shape.
Myth #2 Balancing an Egg on End during and Equinox
How many times have we seen someone on television, most often a news anchor attempting to balance an egg on its end on either the spring or autumn equinox? This has nothing to do with the equinox, it can be done any day of the year! All you need to balance an egg is a raw egg, a hard, flat surface and a steady hand. It will work any day of the year.
Myth #3 Rubber Tires or Rubber Soled Shoes Protect You from Lightning
This is false! While Rubber is a great insulator from electricity, Lightning can be up to 100,000,000 volts of electricity and can heat up to 53,540º F! That is hotter than the surface of the sun! The sun’s surface temperature is 10,340ºF. You small rubber shoes stand no chance against that high of electricity and extreme heat! Aren’t you still safer inside your car than outside it in a lightning storm? Yes you are but it is not because of the tires. If the lightning would hit your car it would travel around the metal cage of you car. As long as you are not touching anything metal inside you car, you should be OK.
Myth #4 If the skies are clear, I am safe
Not true! The average storm produces lightning strikes that can reach out as far as 5 to 10 miles from the storm. Lightning has been known to strike over 25 miles away from a storm. Meteorologists and scientists call these “Bolts from the blue” because they happen when there are clear blue skies above where the lightning strikes. These are in areas where most people think they are safe from lightning, but they are not. The National Weather Service says “If thunder roars, go indoors!” Even inside lightning can travel through electrical wiring and pipes. Do not shower and get off and turn off the computer if lightning is near.
Myth #5 Mountains or water protect you from tornadoes
Tornadoes are possible any where in the United States. Mountains, rivers or lakes do not do not steer tornadoes way. Now the conditions over mountain tops and cold water lakes are not ideal, tornadoes can and do happen over both. I have seen funnel clouds touch down over the Pikes Peak/Palmer Divide mountain range in Colorado. In fact two out of three became tornadoes that day! You have to have all the ingredients in place, abundant moisture, very warm/hot air, an high unstable atmosphere and wind shear. Wind shear is when wind speed increases with height and direction changes with height. You have all these in place and tornadoes can happen anywhere over the mountains, a lake, river or even in a city with tall buildings, it does not matter. Tornadoes over bodies of water are called “water spouts”.
Myth #6 Open all your windows and this will lessen the damage from a tornado.
No, this does not help equalize the pressure. Here is an explanation from Weather Underground; “A common tornado myth is that opening the windows will equalize the pressure in your house, which is thought to protect your home from damage. This is totally unnecessary and wastes valuable time in getting to your storm shelter location. If a tornado is going to pass close enough to do damage to your house, there's nothing you can do to minimize it, and making the effort is only risking your life.”
You can check out more tornado myths at http://www.wunderground.com/resources/severe/tornado_myths.asp 
The strong tornado winds combined with debris is what will do damage, open or closed windows, it does not make a difference.
Myth #7 Where I used to live it was 90ºF and 90% humidity!
So many people have told me of how they used to live in Houston, New Orleans, Alabama, etc… and they said that it was quite often 90 degrees with a relative humidity of 90 percent. I know many of those places are obnoxiously humid, but science does not support this. This weather scenario of 90º and 90% humidity is an exaggeration that does not occur in the United States. dew point temperatures do get 80º or higher during the summertime in places around the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi Valley and parts of the Midwest. The highest dew point ever recorded in the U.S.. The 88° Dew Point Measured at Moorhead, Minnesota on July 19, 2011. The combination of 90º and a dew point of 88º degrees yields a relative humidity of only 93.4 %. In this case, we come close to almost proving the statement! There are places in the world where this does happen. The world's highest dew points are found near very warm bodies of water like the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Assab, Eritrea, on the coast of the Red Sea, boasts an average dew point of 84º. On July 8, 2003, the world-record high dew point of 95 was recorded at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and when combined with that afternoon's temperature of 108º produced a heat index of 174º!!
There are so many Weather/Meteorology myths that you hear and many of us accept them as fact.. What are some of the weather myths you have heard growing up or from people around you? Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org  or message me on my Charles DeBroder Face book page and I may include them in my next “Meteorology/Weather Myth’s” “Weather Talk”.