Weather forecasting is the application of
principles of math, physics, and statistics to try to "predict" the
weather. Forecasts ranging from a few hours to about two days are referred to
as short range forecasts. Long term forecasts are years in advance.
In the early days people did not rely
on the newspapers or the weatherman because there were none. Many people used
their observational skills to look for clues to predict the weather. Early
mariners were especially aware of the changing weather. They noticed that
forecasting weather is related to the phases of the moon, reactions of
organisms including people, optical phenomena such as rainbows and halos, and
certain weather sequences.
Common phrases like, "April Showers,
Bring May Flowers," reveal that people where aware about the seasonality
of changing weather. Older people always talk about their bones hurting means
that there will be rain or a change in weather. The change in the direction of
the wind may signal rain coming in some areas. Weather is very much part of
our everyday lives.
- Discuss with students about weather lores after you
read the poem, Weather Lores by Michael Dogerty. See if your students with the help of their parents can develop any
more weather lores. The one’s below were sailor’s way of trying to
forecast the weather.
- If there is a halo around the moon, it will rain.
(This is true, because moisture in the air is seen as a halo from the
- Thunder in spring, cold will bring. (A pending cold
front is approaching when this occurs.)
- Red sky in morning, sailor's warning.
Red sky at night, sailors’ delight. (Red skies in
the morning mean storms are coming, and red skies at night means calm seas.
This is usually true along coastal areas.)
- Mackerel scales and mare’s tails
Make loft ships carry low sails. (Since high clouds of
a warm front are often the first visible sign of a storm, the proverb calls
for ships to lower their sails.)
- Rain long foretold, long last.
Short notice, soon past. (Signs of rain prior to a
storm can predict how long the storm will last.)
- There are basically four elements of
weather that can help describe weather. The four elements include wind, temperature, air pressure and
moisture. Discuss with students each of the elements. An anemometer measures wind speed; a thermometer measures
temperature; a barometer measures air pressure; and rain gauge measures
moisture. If you have a school weather station or have these
instruments, this would be a good time to show students.
- Have students bring in the weather maps from
newspapers at home. Ask them to locate the "forecast" in this
section. You may want to do this over a week or so, and see if the
forecast is correct or not. Stress with your students that forecasting
weather is very difficult. You may want to use the Internet to
show students how to find the weather by doing a search for your local