Research a Severe Weather Pattern of Interest
- Grade level: Upper Elementary, Middle school.
- Subject Area: Science, Language Arts
Students select a severe weather pattern of interest and research these patterns to collect data for a report they will write in the next lesson. Have students pick one of the following severe weather patterns to study using printed or on-line resources:
- Lightening, Hail, and Thunderstorms
- Use the Internet to research a severe weather pattern of interest.
- Collect data on several key components of their severe weather pattern and address the following questions:
- Under what conditions does the severe pattern form?
- Where is it most likely to occur (geographically)?
how do meteorologists predict its formation?
- What steps can be taken to prepare for the weather and provide safety for people?
- How do people who have lived through the pattern describe the experience?
- Identify possible damage from their severe weather pattern.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer (PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
- Special hardware requirements: none.
- Special software requirements: none.
- Internet access: High-speed (greater than 1 MBPS via network).
Before beginning, collect printed materials on weather and meteorology or visit specific Websites (see Web Resources below) designed for students and have these sites available when students study their severe weather patterns. The Internet provides an excellent set of resources on severe weather patterns and allows students to conduct their own research on topics of interest to them.
For those students who are interested in more research and discovery about weather patterns, there are a variety of useful shareware programs available for students. These "free" software programs can be downloaded and run by students as they study specific weather phenomona and learn about weather modeling. The following programs are available from the University of Michigan Weather Underground [http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet/software.html] download site:
- Students visit the following appropriate Websites, depending on their severe weather pattern of interest.
- As students are investigating their severe weather patterns, ask them to identify and document steps that can be taken in the case of an actual weather emergency. Also ask them to consider how a severe weather pattern might affect the school and surrounding community.
Another useful set of freeware are available at the El Paso National Weather Service Office [http://nwselp.epcc.edu/elp/wxcalc.html] under their Weather Calculator site.
- Tracking The Eye v1.7 - a Windows application for tracking severe storms. With features like toolbars, status bars, graphs, full color printing, print previewing and context sensitive help, 'Tracking The Eye' can instantly determine the distance between any city on the eastern seaboard and the storm it is tracking. Plots map, storm and coordinates on any printer. Imports ASCII data from other storm trackers. Animation, Sounds, VCR style controls, statistical graph and storm warning flags.
- StormTracker Demo (450K) - a lightning detection and analysis program for DOS PCs.
- Quik-Sky v4.6 (536K) - a fun and and easy-to-use weather mapping application. Like WeatherGraphix and WeatherView, Quik-Sky generates weather graphics from raw alphanumeric data. All 50 states are supported. Mouse driven.
- WxView v2.8 (314K) - a favorite among weather enthusiasts, WeatherView converts your raw National Weather Service data into exciting maps and tables. Packed with features that make analyzing weather data fast and enjoyable, even for novices.
- Go'Canes! - hurricane tracking program. Features customizable high definition maps, storm tagging, animated plots, and command line capability for fast plots. Color VGA required. Fast disk/cache will help. Famous storm histories included.
- WeatherCaster Gold (627K) - an integrated and low cost weather forecaster, database and analysis program. It includes numerous features, such as a built-in weather forecasting module, conversion utilities, graphical analysis functions, and an observation decoder.
- Merlin v2.0c (201K) - Track and forecast the movement of hurricanes with Merlin v2.0c, a powerful new weather application by Ted Parker. What distinguishes Merlin from other hurricane tracking software is its use of artificial intelligence and an advanced mathematical model. Despite its power, Merlin is extremely easy to use.
- Digital Atmosphere (2.3M) - a software program available for PC and 100% compatible computers which runs under Windows. It is a powerful, easy-to-use graphics-based program that allows you to create, display, and print an infinite variety of weather charts and analyses. It's the same type of tool that is used by National Weather Service offices nationwide. Digital Atmosphere is an absolute must for any serious weather hobbyist, storm enthusiast, pilot, climatologist, or meteorologist.
- What is a tornado?
An excellent article on tornadoes by Chuck Doswell, NOAA/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, OK (13 April 1996).
- USA Today - Tornado information
More information on tornadoes from the USA Today Website.
- Twister, the Movie
Warner Brothers Pictures; and be sure to see the Tornado Safety Information [http://www.movies.warnerbros.com/twister/cmp/safety.html], and the Twister Glossary [http://www.movies.warnerbros.com/twister/cmp/glossary.html].
- Tornado web sites @ YAHOO
A list of Websites about tornadoes at YAHOO.
Includes Where Tornadoes form and What they are, Rating a Tornado, The Fujita-Pearson Tornado Intensity Scale, What to do if a Tornado Hits, and Tornado Bibliography.
- National Hurricane Center
The Tropical Prediction Center's (TPC) purpose is "to save lives and protect property by issuing watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous weather conditions in the tropics. TPC products are generated for use in both the domestic and international communities. "
- USA Today - Hurricane information
A list of Websites about hurricanes at USA Today.
- The Palm Beach Post Hurricane Page
Shows all the hurricanes and their paths from 1995. Be sure to check out there Hurricane categories [http://www.pbpost.com/storm96/hurrcats.htm].
- The 1996 Atlantic Hurricane Season
A document describing the 1996 hurricane season in the Atlantic ocean.
- Hurricane sites @ YAHOO
A list of resources on hurricanes at YAHOO.
- California Flood and Weather Information
A Website dedicated to floods.
- Flood web sites @ YAHOO
A list of Websites on flooding at YAHOO.
- Information about flooding
Information on flooding.
A novel in pictures at Voyager.
- Lightening, Hail, and Thunderstorms
- USA Today - Thunderstorms & lightening information
Information on thunderstorms and lightening at USA Today.
- Thunderstorms and tornadoes
An on-line guide to meteorology at UIUC.
- General severe weather sites
- Storm Chaser Home Page
Better than the movie "Twister," this site includes a wealth of information on the people who chase storms for a living. Included at the site are Late-Breaking and Important Chaser News, links to Current Weather and Forecasts, Past Weather and Weather Archives, Tornado Talk, and Eyewitness Accounts and Reports From Chasers.
- StormTracker Newsletter
"STORMTRACK is a non-profit publication intended for the scientist and amateur alike who share an avid interest in the acquisition and advancement of knowledge concerning severe storms. It is published bimonthly by Master Graphics, Lewisville, TX. David Hoadley founded the publication in 1977 and STORMTRACK has continued to grow and improve ever since. Gene Rhoden designed the current cover. David Hoadley still contributes drawings and sketches. Currently, STORMTRACK has about 650 subscribers!"
- ALERT Meteorological Research Teams
ALERT Meteorological Research Teams exists to gather information from individual experiences with severe and unusual weather phenomena and to share that data with meteorological researchers to supplement their studies. We educate ourselves and our communities, and we act as a resource for each other, freely sharing any knowledge we have, individually and as a team."
- The National Severe Storms Laboratory
"The National Severe Storms Laboratory is one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) internationally-known Environmental Research Laboratories, leading the way in investigations of all aspects of severe weather. Headquartered in Norman, OK with staff in Boulder CO, Seattle WA, Phoenix AZ, Salt Lake City UT, Madison WI, and Atlanta GA, the people of NSSL, in partnership with the National Weather Service, are dedicated to improving the Nation's severe weather warnings and forecasts in order to save lives and reduce property damage."
- The Automated Weather Source - Nationwide School Weather Network
A AWS has an ongoing weather project for schools.
- The Daily Planet
and the Online Guide to Meteorology
Includes resources on Coastal Weather, Pressure, Forces and Winds, the Guide to Weather Maps and Images, the Cloud Catalog, and the Storm Spotter's Guide at UIUC.
- Interactive Weather Information Network
A service of the National Weather Service [http://www.nws.noaa.gov/].
- The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
The governmental branch dedicated to studying and predicting oceanic and atmospheric phenomona.
- American Meterological Society
[http://atm.geo.nsf.gov:80/AMS/] home page.
Information on a variety of weather topics at the AMS.
- The Interactive Weather Browser at MSU
MSU maintains an on-line weather browser.
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