What Do They Mean When The Skies Go Green In Oklahoma?
While storm season is off to a seasonably late start, it might be time to go over some of the stuff that normally comes up during this time of year. I hope you're prepared for the current forecast with your tornado precaution plans, a little stockpile of necessities, plenty of blankets and pillows in your safe space, etc... I trust everyone in the house knows that plan so when the sirens do start singing the state song of Oklahoma everybody knows where to be in that moment. But what about everything that leads up to it?
In the classic Oklahoma film Twister, there's a very particular scene where the meteorologists talk about the sky going green. This is back in the 90's before storm coverage turned into the entertainment and ratings bias it has today. Not soon after the movie, storm chasers sort of became some of the first big time, mass appeal reality tv stars. Not only during storm coverage, but also dedicated documentary films and weekly shows, and contained in almost every piece of entertainment was a line about "The skies are going green." This lead everyone to believe that green skies mean tornadoes, but that's not the long and short of it.
If you didn't know, a stormy sky goes green because of hail. It's just the way the sun bounces off of it in the atmosphere, and by the time you see it at ground level, that green color is the part of the light spectrum most prevalent to you. Also, a green sky doesn't mean tornadoes, but they do go hand in hand. The bigger the hail and storm is, the more green it turns, it doesn't mean a tornado is coming... it just mean that storm is more capable of producing a twister. It's all in how hail forms.
Clouds release rain high in the atmosphere, as it freezes and falls, the updraft of a storm cloud can push it back up into the storm. As more rain hits it and re-freezes, the bigger the hail grows until it gets to a point the updraft can no longer keep it afloat and it falls to earth in a grand display of natural destruction. It's that unstable air, the updraft and eventual rotation that create, in the perfect conditions, it turns sideways and that's when the tornado happens. So, green skies don't always mean tornadoes, but at least you now know what green skies could lead to. With the current forecast in place this week, like you I'm in that place where I've been cried wolf to enough already this year... but all the same, you just never know. It is predicting the future after all.