Wind, Trashcans, Leaves, and…Opening a can of Soda?

Meteorologist Erik Dean explains how opening a can of soda is in comparison to the wind we deal with on a frequent basis.

SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK CONTINUES: Today we’ll discuss severe thunderstorms and wind. In case you missed the VLOG, (you can click here to watch it, and read the forecast discussion,) we discussed the wind criteria for severe thunderstorms, and which one would trigger an alert to your phone. We also discussed how much wind could move anything from a maple leaf, to a car. Sometimes, we joke around and use the Trash Can Wind Meter on air (The Graphic that lured you to reading this page!). I want to take it a step further. Let’s discuss why we can get some crazy wind across the U.S., and to do that, let’s grab 2 cans of your favorite soft drink.

For this, I want to use the example of 2 cans of soda.
Wind 1

There’s our Soda. The pressure on the left side is substantially less than the pressure on the right side as you can see by the meters. The outside pressure is in the middle. Now, the air pressure tries to reach some form of normalcy, or a balance. So, we open the left can.
Wind 2

So the wind that is formed from opening this can is an attempt to restore a balance from the differences in the Air Pressure. With the case of this can, it is between the inside and the outside of the can. After this can is open, and the pressure is equalized; the wind just goes away. Now let’s open the right can.

Wind 3
So let’s take the right can and do exactly what our parents told us not to do as kids; shake the can! **DISCLAIMER** If you try the following at home and soda goes all over everything, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now, let’s open the can and what happens. It practically goes all over the place. That’s because after we shook the can, it caused more pressure inside. The greater the difference in pressure, the stronger the wind has to be for it to equal out to normal.


So remember back a few paragraphs ago when I said air pressure tries to reach some form of normalcy, or a balance? It’s literally the same on a larger scale. All wind wants to do is just be normal, but as we know all too well, Mother Nature doesn’t like normalcy. She has her own agenda.

Wind 4

So here’s Map number 1; That’s a weak high pressure. The isobars are spread way apart allowing a nice gentle flow; a weak wind if you will.

Wind 5

Here is map number 2, notice how the Isobars are much more compact as compared to the first map. That symbolizes a large change in pressure, and with that large change you’ll have the stronger winds.

SO THE BOTTOM LINE: Next time you open that can of soda, remember that the glorious sound once that can opens, can also be applied to a larger scale in why we see wind.

-Class Dismissed

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Weather, Local News, Weather Daily