Weather Forecasting: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Hance

Elizabeth has taught elementary and middle school special education, and has a master's degree in reading education.

Have you ever headed outside on a sunny day, only to be caught in a rainstorm later that afternoon? Weather forecasting helps us dress and prepare for different types of weather. In this lesson, you will be introduced to the basics of weather forecasting.

The Importance of Forecasts

A forecast is a prediction, or good guess, about the future. Weather forecasting is when scientists called meteorologists use many different tools to predict what the weather in the near future will be.

Weather can change quickly and may seem unpredictable. Checking the forecast can help you prepare for the weather. It will let you know if you need to wear layers as the temperature warms, or to pack an umbrella in case of rain showers.

In many parts of the world, weather forecasts can help save lives. Meteorologists can warn us to seek shelter from dangerous and extreme weather like tornadoes, hurricanes, or floods.

Tools for Forecasting

If you take a quick look out your window, you might think you can tell what the weather is. However, a clear, sunny sky can be misleading when the temperatures are really below freezing! Meteorologists use many tools to accurately predict the weather.

One of the most common tools you can use to understand the weather (or your own health) is a thermometer. Many thermometers use mercury to quickly measure how warm or cool the air is. Meteorologists also use thermometers to keep track of the temperature over time, and to track average temperatures.

Barometers can measure rapid changes in air pressure that help us to forecast the weather.

A barometer is a tool similar to a thermometer, but it measures air pressure. When air pressure drops quickly, it often means that rain or a storm is coming. Rising air pressure usually means that the weather is getting better.

Weather satellites help track weather around the world. This satellite image shows a hurricane near Florida.

If you have seen a weather map with bright green or blue clouds on it, you've seen pictures from a weather satellite. Meteorologists today also use weather satellites to carefully track weather around the world. By taking pictures from above the earth, satellites allow scientists to see weather patterns and storms across the globe. You can check satellite images to see if your home is in the path of a storm.

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