Comparing Different Types of Weather

Brianna Cowling, Jeff Fennell, Elaine Chan
  • Author
    Brianna Cowling

    Brianna graduated from Henderson State University in 2016 with a B.S. in Psychology and Biology. She has been a secondary science teacher for 5 years and has written curriculum and science lessons for other companies. She is a Certified Google Level 1 Educator and is part of the Edulastic Innovator Team and her campus Leadership Team.

  • Instructor
    Jeff Fennell

    Jeff has a master's in engineering and has taught Earth science both domestically and internationally.

  • Expert Contributor
    Elaine Chan

    Dr. Chan has taught computer and college level physics, chemistry, and math for over eight years. Dr. Chan has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from U. C. Berkeley, an M.S. Physics plus 19 graduate Applied Math credits from UW, and an A.B. with honors from U.C .Berkeley in Physics.

Learn the definition of weather and see how different types of weather impact climate. Understand several types of weather, including rain, snow, fog, and wind. Updated: 09/22/2021

Table of Contents


Weather Definition

The meaning of weather is the state of the atmosphere at a particular moment in time. This includes factors such as heat, dryness, wind, or amount of sunshine in a given location. Weather is affected by many different things including seasons, climate, and fronts. Different weather events can include thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards. It is important to understand the causes of various weather events and what they entail in order to prepare for the potential risks that come with some weather events.

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What is Fog? - Definition, Types & Causes

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Types of Weather
  • 1:44 Air Masses And Fronts
  • 3:30 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Importance of Understanding Different Kinds of Weather

Learning about different kinds of weather is important because it enables scientists like meteorologists to predict future weather events. Meteorologists study weather patterns and predict weather events based on atmospheric conditions. Predicting future weather events is important in preparing others and keeping them safe in the event of severe weather emergencies. Forecasting is the process in which meteorologists use past weather events and current atmospheric conditions to predict weather events. They use complex mathematical equations with advanced technology and pull data from weather stations all over the world to make weather forecasts.

Different Types of Weather

There are five primary different types of weather that can occur: sunny, rainy, windy, stormy, and cloudy. However, many of these types of weather can overlap and occur at the same time. Types of weather are influenced by sunshine, precipitation, wind, and humidity. The following section outlines some various forms of weather.

Sunny Weather

Sunny weather occurs whenever there is no precipitation and few clouds present to cover the sun. Sunshine is an important weather phenomenon because the sun's rays play a critical role in the growth of plants and crops. Sunlight provides the energy that plants need to undergo photosynthesis, the process by which they make their own food. Sunshine can also determine temperature conditions in an area as well. Areas that receive greater amounts of sunshine generally have higher average temperatures than areas that do not.

Rain, Storms and Hurricanes

Rain, which is also known as precipitation, forms in the clouds when water vapor, a gas, condensates and turns into large droplets of water. Whenever the clouds become too heavy with water droplets, they fall to the Earth as rain. While a thunderstorm does include heavy rainfall, it also includes lightning, thunder, and in some cases strong winds and hail. Even more severe are hurricanes, which are swirling storms that include extremely strong winds. Hurricanes also include large amounts of rain, but are more destructive than rain and thunderstorms because of their wind speeds.

Snow and Blizzards

A snowstorm is a weather event characterized by wintery precipitation such as snow, sleet, or freezing rain. Snowstorms typically occur whenever temperatures are below freezing. Blizzards are more severe winter weather events, bringing large amounts of snowfall and high winds above 35 miles per hour.


Tornadoes are large, swirling, tunnels of wind and debris that often accompany severe thunderstorms. Unstable atmospheric conditions, such as warm, moist air near the ground and dry, cooler air above it, are responsible for the formation of tornadoes. Tornadoes can last anywhere from a few seconds to 20 minutes or more. Their winds can also reach speeds up to 200 miles per hour. Strong tornadoes can destroy structures that are in its path, making them a severe weather event.

A tornado with lightning

tornado and lightning


Humidity is a measure of how much water vapor is in the atmosphere. The greater the temperature, the more water vapor the atmosphere can hold, so ecosystems with warmer climates often have humid climates as well. This includes tropical climates near the equator, such as the rainforest. Water vapor enters the atmosphere as water evaporates from large bodies on water on Earth. Humidity is measured using a hygrometer. A hygrometer is composed of two thermometers, one of which has a cloth covering the bulb. As water collects and evaporates from the cloth, the temperature of that thermometer drops. The two temperatures from the thermometers are compared to generate a relative humidity reading.

Clouds and Fog

Clouds and fog both form from water vapor in the atmosphere. However, clouds can form at both low and high altitudes while fog generally forms near the ground. As mentioned previously, clouds form whenever water vapor condensates and turns into droplets of water. These droplets combine to form clouds that can be low to the ground or as high as 12 miles above sea level.

Type of Cloud Characteristics
Cirrus High altitude, feathery cloud
Altostratus Mid-level altitude, blue-gray clouds that cover the whole sky
Cumulus Low-level altitude, white "cotton ball" clouds


A sandstorm is a type of weather event specific to hot, dry areas of land like deserts. Sandstorms occur whenever high winds pick up the top layer of sand and create large clouds of sand. Sandstorms can be extremely large, reaching anywhere from 10 to 50 feet tall depending on the strength of the wind. They also move very quickly - up to 25 miles per hour at times. Since summers in the desert are very hot and dry, this is the time of year when sandstorms are more likely to occur.

A Sandstorm

A sandstorm meets the weather definition


Wind is a variable that impacts many different weather events. Wind is responsible for carrying moisture and heat from one area to another, resulting in changes in weather. Wind has a tendency to travel from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. Whenever there are changes in temperature or pressure within the atmosphere, wind changes direction as well. Wind can be the cause of other weather events, such as tornadoes, sandstorms, and blizzards.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

  • Activities
  • FAQs

Weather and Clouds

One of the most obvious methods we have, and by far the most reliable for weather prediction, is observing clouds. Clouds can tell us a lot about the state of the weather and provide us with clues about what's likely to happen in the near future.

Using what you learned about clouds in the lesson and your own personal observations, fill in the blanks in the following paragraphs.

1) The shape, color and _____ of clouds can help predict the weather. _____ or brown clouds usually mean a storm is coming. _____ clouds mean pleasant weather. _____ clouds usually mean a widespread storm is approaching.

2) If there aren't any clouds in the sky, then the weather is _____. Assuming there are clouds in the sky, if you can see the sun or moon through the clouds, then you are looking at _____ altitude clouds. If the clouds are thick, then there may be a chance of _____ weather within a day or two. You can tell which way a storm is moving by the _____ in which the clouds are moving.

3) If the clouds are covering the entire sky and appear to be grey with a blue tint or fluffy white/grey with a lot of contrast between the light and dark areas, you should prepare for _____ within half a day. If the clouds are low and lumpy or low and fluffy and resemble white cotton balls, you can expect _____ weather.

4) Any _____ growth of the clouds (anvil shapes) may indicate thunderstorms. Dark clouds with a funnel extending _____ to the earth (or ocean) and signs of rotation or flying debris could be a tornado.


  • Paragraph one: movement; black; white; gray
  • Paragraph two: good; high; poor; direction
  • Paragraph three: rain; satisfactory
  • Paragraph four: upwards and vertical; down

What are 5 types of weather?

The five types of weather are sunny, rainy, windy, stormy, and cloudy. Many of these types of weather can occur at the same time.

How do you define the weather?

Weather is the state of the atmosphere at a particular moment in time. It includes things such as heat, dryness, wind, or amount of sunshine.

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days