Amazing Kids! Magazine

Predicting the Weather

By Natalie Brady, Jr. Assistant Editor


How do people predict the weather? What about those guys on TV – how do they know what the weather is going to be like before it actually happens?

This is called weather forecasting. The first step in weather forecasting is collecting data and making simple observations. If you watch clouds, they can tell you a lot about the incoming weather. For instance: a cumulonimbus cloud – the big, dark, puffy clouds – indicates a storm. Cirrus clouds – small, wispy clouds – indicate a warm front.

The people on TV predicting the weather are meteorologists; scientists who study causes of weather and try to predict it. But how do they predict the weather? They do, of course use weather forecasting. Meteorologists also use weather technology.

Weather technology includes weather balloons, satellites, automated weather stations, maps, and even computers. Except… what are all of these things, and how do they work?

Weather balloons carry instruments high into the troposphere and lower stratosphere. The instruments mostly measure temperature, air pressure, and humidity. Weather satellites collect data on temperature, humidity, solar radiation, wind speed, and wind direction. Satellites also provide images of clouds and storm systems. Automated weather, gathers data from surface locations for temperature, air pressure, relative humidity, rainfall, and wind speed and direction. Computer forecasts use data collected from weather stations, satellites, and radar to work through calculations and make forecasts.

But… how do the TV forecasters take all this information and put it all together for a national broadcast?

It is quite simple, actually. Weather data is collected from instruments in the balloons, satellites, and stations. The data is then sent to a computer where numerous calculations are performed. Meteorologist use the information and a forecast is prepared; then, a national broadcast is sent out.

I hope you enjoyed learning about how meteorologists predict the weather.