“A low pressure system is moving into our area tonight.” “The relative humidity level is at 30 percent.” “Winds are moving out of the northwest at 20 miles per hour.” You might have heard a weather forecaster make comments like these, but do you know what they mean?
Weather forecasters rely on computer data, satellite images and their own observations to accurately forecast the weather. They’ve also got their own language for explaining it. Read on to learn how to understand a weather forecast.
Fun Facts about Understanding the Weather Forecast for Kids
- A high pressure system occurs when dry, cool air spirals in a clockwise direction, bringing mild weather and sunny, blue skies.
- A low pressure system is moist, warm air swirling in a counter-clockwise direction. Low pressure systems usually mean stormy, wet weather.
- Relative humidity refers to how much moisture is in the air compared with how much moisture the air can hold. The more humid it is, the warmer you feel in hot weather and the colder you feel in winter weather.
- A front is when two air masses of different temperatures meet. When cold and warm air masses meet, you can usually expect turbulent, stormy weather.
- A cold front happens when cold air and bad weather moves into an area. On a weather map, a blue line with teeth show which direction the cold front is moving. A warm front occurs when warm air moves into an area. A red line with half circles indicates a warm front.
Weather Forecasting Vocabulary
- Forecaster: a weather reporter
- Data: information and statistics
- Observation: learning that occurs through watching and studying something
- Moist: wet
- Turbulent: rough
Learn More About Understanding the Weather Forecast
Watch this video about weather forecasting:
A video about how to predict the weather.
Weather Forecasting Q&A
Question: How did people forecast the weather before weather reporters?
Answer: Old-timers relied on their own observations to tell the weather. Oftentimes, they were right. You can predict the weather simply by paying attention to the environment. For example, a red sky at sundown usually means fair weather. A red sky at sunrise often means rain. A ring around the moon also means rain is coming, while a clear moon in the fall and winter means cold weather. High clouds mean good weather; low clouds mean storms.
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