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Wild Weather with Richard Hammond - Water: The shape shifter

Updated Wednesday 19th November 2014

The crucial role water plays is explored in this episode where Richard Hammond starts an avalanche. 

Richard Hammond doing a cloud experiment Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC In this episode Richard investigates the crucial role water plays. Without water there would be almost no weather: no rain, no snow, no hail, and no clouds. So Richard goes in pursuit of water in all its forms. He tries to weigh a cloud, find out how rain could crush a car and gets involved in starting an avalanche.

Along the way he tries to find out why clouds float by building his own cloud with the aid of a cattle trough, some humidifiers and atmospheric scientist Dr Jim McQuaid. “I may have bought the bits from a garden centre but secretly they are cloud-making devices!” But will their cloud float in the air like a real cloud?

He also drops in on renowned hail scientist Charles Knight in his lab in Boulder, Colorado to discover that there is far more to hail than meets the eye. In a scientific first, and with the help of Jim Stratton and Craig Zehrung from Purdue University, Richard sets about firing ice and hail at a board to find out which does the most damage.

Finally, in conjunction with the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos, Richard joins Walter Steinkogler as he starts an avalanche in an attempt to find out how something as delicate and fragile as a snowflake can travel at extraordinary speeds of up to 250 mph on the ground.

Wild Weather with Richard Hammond is a weather series unlike any other and it will change your understanding of the extraordinary natural forces at play in our weather. Only by properly understanding our weather, we can better learn to live with it.

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