Friday, August 21, 2009

A New Weather Term Pops Up

Last Friday in northern Michigan my husband and I were on an inland lakes waterway cruise with a group of friends. The weather was supposed to be perfect so we were all surprised when the sky turned dark shortly after launching the boat. We turned on the radio to check the weather and heard that some storms had been spotted over Wisconsin and a "pop-up storm" would not be out of the question for our location.

Having never heard the word 'pop-up' used in relation to weather I decided to google "pop-up storm". There were 21,200,000 hits; however, none of those on the first few pages included a definition, they were simply excerpts from weather forecasts that included the term. I next googled "pop-up storm definition" and the closest google hit was for the term "popcorn storm" from Double-Tongued Dictionary. The definition is as follows:

popcorn storm: n. a brief, unexpected rain shower or thunderstorm. Also, collectively and more formally, popcorn convection.

I then searched the National Weather Service's weather terms and definitions page and found this definition:

Popcorn Convection: Slang for showers and thunderstorms that form on a scattered basis with little or no apparent organization, usually during the afternoon in response to diurnal heating. Individual thunderstorms typically are of the type sometimes referred to as air-mass thunderstorms: they are small, short-lived, very rarely severe, and they almost always dissipate near or just after sunset.

Amazing how technology influences language use.

Thankfully, the storm never did hit...probably because we turned on our pop-up blocker.


lpgraziani said...

If the storm hit you could have always used your pop-up tent to stay dry ;-)

tattrldy said...


Wordacious said...

Lori - You never cease to crack me up. Thanks for the laugh.

tattrldy - Thanks for reading and contributing comments on a regular basis.

Carlos said...

I wonder how and why it evolved to pop-up instead of popcorn.

Wordacious said...

Carlos - I wonder too. There is so little out there about the term. I have to believe that the evolution of the term has something to do with technology and the internet.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I have heard the term for some time now. I'm not sure when I first heard it and I don't believe I ever had any question about what it meant. To me it makes more sense than popcorn storm.


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