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Earth Meteorology



stormy weather photo

  The following essay was prepared by Travis Olmsted, a student at Dora School. He was in fifth grade at the time. 

Personal History:
I started to be interested in meteorology in 1997, the first time I saw the movie "Twister." From that point on, I kept my eye on the sky. At school, in every class, I sit by the window and I am always gazing out of it. I have always wondered what is the secret behind weather. People tell me I'm crazy for this, but I have always wanted to go in the middle of a tornado. I am always searching for more information on the weather in books and on the internet. 

stormy weather photo
Stratus Clouds over Douglas County

History of Meteorology:
The first meteorologist in colonial America was Ben Franklin. He proved that lightning is a giant spark of electricity. He also invented the lightning rod. The rod is made of metal so lightning strikes the rod instead of the structure it is attached to. 

Cloud Formation:
There are 12 basic kinds of clouds. They are as follows: Altocumulus, Altostratus, Cumulonimbus, Cumulus, Stratus, Stratocumulus, Nimbostratus, Fog, Cirrus, Cirrocumulus, Cirrostratus and Contrails. The cloud's prefix indicates the cloud's height. A cloud is made up of floating collections of tiny water droplets. 

Clouds Falling??
Clouds are made of liquid water and ice, both of which are heavier than air. While gravity pulls the droplets and ice crystals down, air pressure pushes them back up. Because of this pushing and pulling, they fall very slowly and usually evaporate long before they reach the earth. 

stormy weather photo
Mixture of Stratus and Cumulus Clouds

Instruments Used to Measure Weather:
Among the many instruments for measuring weather, the most common are the Barometer, Rain Gauge, Thermometer and Anemometer. 

  • Thermometer: A Thermometer tells what the temperature is in two kinds of measurements -- Farenheit, which puts the temperature where water freezes at 32 degrees, and where water boils at 212 degrees; and Celsius, which places the freezing point of water at 0 degrees and the boiling point at 100 degrees. 
  • Barometer: This instrument measures air pressure. 
  • Rain Gauge: This tells us how much rain fell in one area. 
  • Anemometer: This instrument measures wind speed. 
High and Low Pressure:
High pressure brings clear and sunny skies. Air under high pressure sinks, leaving us with clear skies. A barometer measures high and low pressure. 

Low pressure brings cloudy and gloomy skies. Air under low pressure rises and cools, forming clouds and sometimes precipitation. Low pressure systems sometimes bring tornadoes. 

stormy weather photo

In This Section

Local Weather Data
A resident of the watershed contributes local weather data each month.

Student Showcase

Weather Events and Experiences
Weather stories written by Ava 7th Grade Language Arts classes, May 2001.

  Research Credits: National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Weather.
National Audubon Society First Field Guide to Weather.
Photo Credits: Cloud photos by Travis Olmsted. Photos of lightning strike and radio towers by Bryan Olmsted.