What sets off an avalanche

If the snow gets too heavy, it can suddenly start to slip and slide. But other things can trigger an avalanche. A skier, or even a car door being slammed, can set the snow sliding.


Layers of snow and ice build up on mountainside, Weight of snow creates cracks, and a large chunk slips away.



Why are blizzards dangerous?

A blizzard is a snowstorm. Strong winds blow the into drifts and it can be difficult to see. A blizzard can bring a busy city to a standstill. People and traffic can’t move about, and schools and offices have to be closed.



You don’t only get snow in cold places. In 1981, snow fell in the Kalahari Desert in Africa for the first time in living memory. The temperature dropped to a chilly minus 5°C.


Which is the snowiest place?

The snowiest place in the world is Mt Rainier in Washington, USA. In one year, snow 30 meters deep fell there. That’s enough snow to build a snowman as tall as 17 people. Fancy having a go?



What is a hailstone made from ?

A hailstone is a small ball of ice that starts life in a thundercloud. Inside the cloud, a chip of ice is tossed up and down many times. It gets coated in layers of ice, just like the layers of an onion.


Build-up of a hailstone within a thundercloud Cutaway of a hailstone, showing the layers of ice


Is it true?

The biggest hailstone was the size of a peach.


  1. It was bigger than that! Hailstones are usually the size of peas but the biggest was the size of a watermelon. It fell in Kansas, USA, in 1970.



What are hurricanes?

Hurricanes are giant storms that begin over warm tropical seas. They are like huge spinning wheels of wind, rain and clouds. They sweep across the sea, then begin to die down when they reach land.

Cutaway of a hurricane


Is it true?

Hurricanes have names.


YES. Hurricanes are given names from an alphabetical list. A new list is made every year. The names of the worst hurricanes, like Andrew or Carol, are never used again.

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