image - paraglidingworldcup.orgThe high temperatures have begun creeping into the upper 80s. Today, partly cloudy with a high of 87.

Just because you only read USA Today over a crappy hotel continental breakfast doesn't mean you should forsake the weather section of's actually pretty good. This morning, Gothamist read their piece on thermals. Though she still feels a bit too unversed in the scientific lingo to offer up much of a description beyond "air" and "rising up," thermals are an interesting reminder that weather, like magic, can be used for good or evil.

The annoying thermals are the ones you hit when you're bouncing around on an airplane. In a nutshell:

As the sun heats the ground, some of the ground's heat warms the air right next to it, making the air less dense. As the air becomes less dense, it begins rising.

[...] if you are a passenger in an airplane that's taking off or landing, they create turbulence that you might find uncomfortable.

As a thermal rises, it mixes with the cooler air around it, causing it to become less buoyant and slow down. Eventually the rising air slows and begins sinking. Erratically rising and sinking air close together creates eddies, which account for the turbulence that buffets aircraft.

Thermals can also create cumulus clouds, which sometimes grow into thunderstorms, furthering the annoyance / fear factor of flying.

On the other hand, where would the beloved sport of Paragliding be without thermals? Nowhere, that's where! Glider planes? Forget it. Hang gliders? Poof, gone. If you haven't yet competed in the Paragliding World Cup, you might want to hone your chops in Bulgaria, "where the thermals are strong and the cloudbase high."