Tag Archives: weather

Weather in Writing

It’s a snowy day here in Japan, only the second time this year it’s snowed a significant amount.  Probably the last, too.  The normally sunny winter has become a very cloudy and snowy one, and that creates a completely different atmosphere outside.  Weather can set the mood in books, too.

Starting a book with the line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” is quite cliche now, but when it was originally written, it probably set the mood. It’s an important part of any novel that involves outdoor settings.  But do we really need an ominous and dark day to be stormy?  Can’t we have a frightening scene on a beautiful sunny day? I’m sure we can.

In world-building, we create new worlds which will also require weather and climate.  For Ariadne, I created an entire planet with a variety of climates around the world.  There are four main continents.  The southern continent is mostly a polar climate with a colder temperate region, as well.  The largest continent extends from the far north to the far south and has everything including arctic, temperate, alpine, desert, humid rainforest, and so on.

The other two continents are smaller.  The northern one is mostly temperate and arctic, but also has a warmer region.  The equatorial continent is mostly tropical.

On Ariadne, the weather will help me create the atmosphere for different regions as I explore the world.  The original colony will be a warm, subtropical grassland with a risk of cyclonic storms.  The second colony will be in a tropical rainforest with plenty of rain. I’m excited to make this world come alive.

If you write, do you pay attention to the weather a lot?  And when you read, do you imagine the weather as its described, or is it often forgotten?  Leave a comment!

Encyclopedia Entry #2 – Ball Lightning

Ball lightning is a mysterious phenomenon that occurs during a thunderstorm, and is an electrical discharge that lasts longer than regular lightning.  However, it’s quite rare and very few recorded instances of it are available.  In July 2012, scientists from Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, China, recorded the spectrum of ball lightning, and published their results in January 2014.

Ball lightning spectrum.  File is public domain, available at Wikipedia.
Ball lightning spectrum. File is public domain, available at Wikipedia.

5 Interesting Facts

1. The ball lightning observed in China was seen from 900 metres away, and 1.64 seconds of video of the lightning was recorded.  The ball lightning traveled horizontally at a speed of 8.6 m/s. Source is here.

2. The spectrum revealed that it contained neutral silicon, calcium, iron, nitrogen, and oxygen.  Regular lightning’s spectrum reveals ionized nitrogen.

3. Ball lightning is mysterious.  Although it has been observed, it’s rarely been observed naturally in a setting where scientists can take readings.  However, there are many hypotheses about the cause of ball lightning.  There is no consensus yet.

4. The characteristics of observed ball lightning is quite varied.  There are different colours, shapes, and sizes.  Many are observed to be rotating, but few are observed to give off heat.  They tend to be attracted to conducting metals.  They often appear at the same time as cloud-to-ground lightning.  They’ve also been known to appear in buildings, aircraft, and pass through walls with no damage. Read all about it here in a New Scientist article.

5. R. C. Jennison of the Electronics Laboratory at the University of Kent observed ball lightning traveling through the aircraft he was in.  During a storm, the aircraft was struck by lightning, and a few seconds later, a 20cm diameter sphere of ball lightning floated down the aircraft and passed within 50cm of him.  Read his account here.

For more information, check the Wikipedia article.