Can You Predict the Weather?
We often give meteorologists a hard time for inaccurate predictions, but how well can you do their job?
What is Weather?
A good definition of weather is the current condition of the atmosphere (air around us and sky). Now that sounds like a definition that a teacher would give you. Well I don’t get teacher talk so I will translate it for you. Is it raining? Is it hot? Is it windy? Is it snowing? Did it sleet yesterday? Is there a hurricane coming to town? This is weather! It is the condition of the air around us at any given time.
Most weather can be predicated. In other words, the guy on the television standing in front of the map has a pretty good idea if it is going to rain or not. The person who studies weather is called a meteorologist. Meteorologists will use all types of instruments to help predict weather.
Some important weather instruments are:
How is Air Involved?
So you may be asking, what causes weather? Why does it rain? What makes the wind rattle the trees? Why did Florida get hit with a hurricane? What makes fog creep along in the valley? The answer to all those questions is temperature!
Temperature is the degree of hotness and coldness. Or in kid language, how warm or cold something is. The difference in the temperature of air is what makes all this weather. The greater the difference in temperature, the greater the chance for changing weather.
Warm air and cold air like to move. Do you know the direction they travel? Think of a hot air balloon or the temperature of a basement. When air is heated, it starts to rise because the molecules spread out and become less dense (compact). This is why your attic or second floor of your home is warmer. And when it cools, it will sink because the molecules will come together and become more dense and heavier. This cold air will travel to the lower parts of your home.
This movement of air in our atmosphere begins the creation of weather. How you ask? We will get there...just be patient.
Is temperature really that important? Yes! When warm air and cold air mix, weather happens. For example, if really warm air smashes into really cold air, a thunderstorm will most likely develop and maybe even a tornado.
You may be asking yourself why this happens. Well let me explain. When warm air rises, it begins to cool and starts to condense (turn to a liquid). Think of your water bottle on your desk during a hot, humid day. It starts to sweat. That’s condensation. When this happens in the atmosphere, clouds develop. And if the air get’s really saturated (full of liquid), it will rain or snow depending on the temperature.
Remember we said that this air likes to move. Well when it does, weather starts to change. When a warm air mass (large area of warm air) moves towards a cold air mass, two things can happen: clouds could form and winds could pick up. And if the temperature difference between the two air masses is large, a storm will form.
You got it? Temperature difference is the number one cause of changing weather!