Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall...each gives us different kinds of weather, such as sunshine, rain, snow, wind and storms! The weather is different at different places around the planet. In some places, it's sunny right now, while in other places it's snowing. Many things affect the weather, including the atmosphere, the sun and the season.
Some people study weather. It's a part of science called meteorology. Meteorologists (people who study weather) study the weather and try to predict it. Predicting the weather is not easy, as there are so many factors and variables involved. Have you ever seen a meteorologist on TV telling you what to expect?
Different places in the world tend to have different kinds of weather. Some places, like California, are warm and sunny for much of the year. Others, like the tropical rain forests, get rain nearly every day. Still others are cold and snowy most of the year, like Alaska.
Wind is the result of air moving around in the atmosphere. Wind is caused by differences in air pressure. Cool air is heavier than hot air. A lot of cool air will create an area of high pressure. A lot of hot air will create an area of low pressure. When areas of low pressure and high pressure meet, the air will want to move from the high pressure area to the low pressure area. This creates wind. The larger the difference in temperature between the two areas of pressure, the faster the wind will blow.
When water falls from clouds it's called precipitation. This can be rain, snow, sleet, or hail. Rain forms from the water cycle. The sun heats up water on the Earth's surface. Water evaporates into vapor and travels into the atmosphere. As more and more water condenses, clouds form. Eventually water droplets in clouds become large and heavy enough that gravity pulls them back to the ground in the form of rain.
We get snow when the temperature is below freezing (32 degrees) and small ice crystals stick together to form snowflakes. Each snowflake is unique, meaning no two snowflakes are exactly alike. Hail generally gets formed in large thunderstorms, where balls of ice get blown several times up into the cold atmosphere. Each time another layer of water on the ball of ice gets frozen, making the ball larger and larger until it finally falls to the ground.
Clouds are tiny drops of water in the air. They are so small and light that they float in the air.
Clouds form from condensed water vapor. This can occur in a number of ways. One way is when warm air, or a warm front, meets up with cold air, or a cold front. The warm air will be forced upward and into colder air. When the warm air starts to drop in temperature, water vapor will condense into liquid droplets and clouds form. Also, warm damp air can blow up against a mountain. The mountain will force the air up into the atmosphere. As this air cools, clouds will form. That's why there are often clouds at the top of mountains.
There are several different types of clouds, and they each have their own names!
Cumulus - Cumulus clouds are the big, puffy white clouds. They look like floating cotton. Sometimes they can turn into cumulonimbus, or tall towering cumulus clouds. These clouds are thunderstorm clouds.
Cirrus - Cirrus clouds are high, thin clouds made of ice crystals. They generally mean good weather is on the way.
Stratus - Stratus clouds are the low flat and large clouds that tend to cover the entire sky. They give us those "overcast" days and can drop light rain called drizzle.
Fog - Fog is a cloud that forms right at the surface of the Earth. Fog can make it very hard to see and dangerous for driving a car, landing a plane or piloting a ship.
Storms happen when there is a weather front. A weather front is the place where two different air bodies, a warm air mass and a cold air mass, meet. There is usually stormy weather at a weather front.
A cold front is where cold air meets warm air. The cold air will move under the warm air, forcing the warmer air to rise quickly. Because the warm air can rise quickly, cold fronts can cause cumulonimbus clouds to form with heavy rain and thunderstorms.
A warm front is where warm air meets cold air. In this case the warm air will rise slowly over the top of the colder air. Warm fronts can cause long periods of light rain and drizzle.
Sometimes a cold front can catch up to a warm front. When this happens it creates an occluded front. Occluded fronts can generate heavy rain and thunderstorms.
We can use art to track the weather!
Here's what you need:
- Paper plate
- Small amount of card stock or cardboard
- Brass fastener or paper clip
Pick one of the sections to start with, in that section draw what you think a sunny warm day looks like in the sky. I will draw a clear blue sky with a sunshine. You don't need a lot of detail in the small space.
2nd section: Slightly Cloudy
Draw that sunny day again, but this time with a few clouds lingering.
3rd section: Mostly Cloudy
Draw your blue sky, but no sunshine! The sun will be covered up by all the clouds in the sky.
4th section: Clouds and Wind
Draw your clouds in the sky and add some wind blowing. You can do this by adding wavy lines behind the clouds.
Now your clouds will be rain clouds! Rain clouds are heavy with water, and get dark in the sky before rainfall. Draw some dark clouds with rain coming down.
6th section: Storm
Keep your rain cloud and rainfall, but add some lightening strikes to show a thunder storm!
7th section: Snow
Snow clouds are white and billowing. In this section, draw some snow clouds with white snowflakes falling.
8th section: Rainbow
in the last section, draw a beautiful rainbow to show that the sky has cleared up after a rain shower!
Keep a sheet of paper and pencil by your weather wheel so that each day you can record the date and what the weather was like. Over time, you will have your very own weather log!