Weather Central for Kids! – A Guide to Weather Phenomenons

This guide to weather phenomenons for kids can help you educate children about the weather, with resources from state governments, universities, and more to teach kids about the weather. Understanding the dangers that are associated with each type of weather phenomenon is very important because it can help keep yourself and your family safe. Learn more in our guide to weather phenomenon below.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Nov 21, 2020

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If you’ve ever sat next to your parents while they were watching the news, then you’ve probably noticed that there is an entire section of the program dedicated to weather forecasts – and rightly so! Weather is an integral part of life on Earth, and it influences our architecture, daily activities, driving habits and even our agriculture. Some places in the world are more prone to certain types of severe weather, like Tornado Ally in the United States. On the other hand, some places may only experience one or two phenomena on a regular basis. Understanding the dangers that are associated with each type of weather phenomenon is very important because it can help keep your family safe.

Clouds

There are four primary classifications for clouds: cumulus, stratus, cirrus and nimbus. It’s easy to tell the different types of clouds apart from one another – just look at the shape! Cumulus clouds are big, puffer shapes that appear to be giant marshmallows; cirrus clouds are very thin and wispy; stratus clouds appear layered on top of one another; and nimbus clouds are dark and heavy in appearance, usually indicative of an impending rain. Clouds can also be classified as a hybrid between two types, like nimbostratus, or by the height of the cloud itself. For example, there are low-level clouds, mid-level clouds and high-level clouds. Measurement starts at the base of the cloud formation.

Flooding

Flooding occurs after natural disasters, like hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis, and the resulting water can be devastating in more than one way. Aside from the obvious risk of drowning in deep, fast moving flood water, mold is also a very real danger – especially for those who have existing respiratory problems. Additionally, flood water is often contaminated with harmful chemicals and other pollutants that it carries with it, which makes it unsafe to touch or consume. It’s very important to evacuate the area if there is a flood warning, and stay on high ground until the water is under control.

Hurricanes

A hurricane is a very powerful type of storm, with spiraling winds, that carries water with it. Although hurricanes primarily stay over the ocean, they do come on land, as well. When this happens, they can wreck entire communities with their strong winds and subsequent flood waters. The wind in a hurricane travels inward and in an upward direction; this combination of direction and strength is what enables a hurricane to rip roofs off of houses. A hurricane will always start over the ocean, and the temperature of the water has to be 80 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer for this to happen. They are categorized on a special scale from 1-5, and there are six stages of a hurricane: tropical wave, tropical disturbance, tropical cyclone, tropical depression, tropical storm, and finally, hurricane.

Thunderstorms

The majority of thunderstorms are the result of a cold front. However, storms can also be associated with other types of weather fronts, as well. Most of us are familiar with thunderstorms – they’re a very common weather phenomenon. But do you know how to stay safe in a storm, whether you’re caught outside, driving with your parents, or just sitting inside your home? Staying away from metal objects is one of the most important things to remember in a thunderstorm that also contains lightning. Additionally, if you’re at home during a storm, make sure you don’t take a shower or a bath until the storm blows over.

Tornadoes

Tornadoes are a type of very powerful storm that can develop out of a thunderstorm. They occur as an eastward moving cold front approaches. Although some tornadoes occur without causing very much damage, they can turn into extremely violent storms very quickly – the wind speed in a tornado can reach all the way up to 250 miles per hour. In fact, some tornadoes move even faster than that! To put this into perspective, that’s almost double the speed that a typical family vehicle can achieve. There are three classifications of tornadoes: weak tornadoes, strong tornadoes, and violent tornadoes.

Space Weather

When the magnetic fields, radiation levels, and orbiting matter that lies in between the Earth’s atmosphere and the Sun’s atmosphere experience changes, the resulting phenomenon is called space weather. There are three different types of storms that occur in space: geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms, and radio blackouts. Each type of space storm is rated on its own scale. For example, geomagnetic storms are rated on a scale from G1-G5, with G5 being the most severe. On the Earth, severe space weather conditions can cause blackouts, interfere with satellites, and cause migratory problems in animals.

Rainbows

A rainbow, in the simplest terms, is an optical phenomenon caused when light reflects and refracts on droplets of water. Although we associate rainbows with the huge phenomenon that can be seen in the sky after it rains, you can also see a small rainbow when the sun is passed through any moisture in the air – you can see this for yourself by misting a spray bottle into the air on a sunny day. Although we can easily see seven colors in a rainbow, each one is actually made up a huge spectrum of colors that our eyes cannot detect. The seven colors that we commonly associate with rainbows are as follows: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. This color sequence is often remembered with the pneumonic device ROY-G-BIV.

Weather Forecasting

Weather forecasting is a science that allows us to predict weather conditions in advance. For example, we can detect cold fronts before they start to advance. Weather forecasting is a very useful application in that it gives us the opportunity to react to natural disasters before they strike, which can save many lives. Additionally, we can also issue weather alerts based on these scientific reports. There are five primary methods of predicting the weather: the persistence method, trends method, analog method, climatology, and numerical weather prediction.

Winter Storms

Although most of us look forward to playing in the snow, the storms that bring snowfall can turn into a deadly phenomenon pretty quickly. For example, a snowstorm can turn into a blizzard, which is a storm that has very heavy snowfall, freezing winds, and sleet. Ice can form regardless of the severity of the snowstorm that your area is experiencing provided that the outside temperature is low enough. It’s very important to stay off the roads during a heavy snow storm to avoid accidents, and you should always make sure that your house is stocked up on non perishable food items that will last you at least several weeks in the event of a debilitating blizzard.

Weather Fronts

Weather fronts are a key part of analyzing and predicting future weather. A front is the area between two different densities of air. Sometimes, it can be very difficult to identify a weather front from the ground because the boundary between the air masses is not apparent. They’re easiest to spot when the air masses on either side differ greatly in density, temperature and humidity, because these differences create a very distinct divide. There are four kinds of weather fronts: cold fronts, warm fronts, stationary fronts, and occluded fronts.

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