Wondering what “graupel” is? Or how about “virga”? You have come to the right place. This section contains the definitions of several hundred weather related terms.
Please contact us if you have a suggestion for additional terms.
We have also developed a special glossary section with winter weather terms only.
Occluded Front - A type of front that arises when a cold front overtakes a warm front. It is considered a cold occlusion when the air behind the front is cold and a warm occlusion when the air behind the front is warm.
Occluded Mesocyclone - A mesocyclone in which air from the rear-flank downdraft has completely enveloped the circulation at low levels, cutting off the inflow of warm unstable low-level air.
Orographic - Related to, or caused by, physical geography (such as mountains or sloping terrain).
Orographic Lift - Lifting of air caused by its passage up and over mountains or other sloping terrain.
Outflow Boundary - A storm-scale or meso-scale boundary separating thunderstorm-cooled air (outflow) from the surrounding air; similar in effect to a cold front, with passage marked by a wind shift and usually a drop in temperature. Outflow boundaries may persist for 24 hours or more after the thunderstorms that generated them dissipate, and may travel hundreds of miles from their area of origin. New thunderstorms often develop along outflow boundaries, especially near the point of intersection with another boundary (cold front, dry line, another outflow boundary, etc.; see triple point).
Overhang - Radar term indicating a region of high reflectivity at middle and upper levels above an area of weak reflectivity at low levels. (The latter area is known as a weak-echo region, or WER.) The overhang is found on the inflow side of a thunderstorm (normally the south or southeast side).
Overrunning - When lighter air rides up and over heavier air near the earth's surface. This ising motion leads to clouds and eventually precipitation. A weather pattern in which a relatively warm air mass is in motion above another air mass of greater density at the surface. Embedded thunderstorms sometimes develop in such a pattern; severe thunderstorms (mainly with large hail) can occur, but tornadoes are unlikely.
Overrunning often is applied to the case of warm air riding up over a retreating layer of colder air, as along the sloping surface of a warm front. Such use of the term technically is incorrect, but in general it refers to a pattern characterized by widespread clouds and steady precipitation on the cool side of a front or other boundary.
Overshooting Top (or Penetrating Top) - A dome-like protrusion above a thunderstorm anvil, representing a very strong updraft and hence a higher potential for severe weather with that storm. A persistent and/or large overshooting top (anvil dome) often is present on a supercell. A short-lived overshooting top, or one that forms and dissipates in cycles, may indicate the presence of a pulse storm or a cyclic storm.
Portions of the 9NEWS Weather Glossary were taken from the second edition of the Glossary of Meteorology published by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). © 2009 American Meteorological Society