Understanding aspects of weather

Although traditional proverbs such as, “Clear moon, frost soon,” or “Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning,” have been around for quite some time, many still rely on this old-fashioned form of forecasting.

A new program at the Creston-Dement Library is helping to provide information to better understand several aspects of weather. The program also has an added bonus — participants are assembling a weather station that will benefit the community for years to come.

Jerry Scherer instructs the STEM-Creston Weather Station program every Thursday evening from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for the next four weeks. The six-week program covers topics such as storms and severe weather, space weather and winter preparedness.

Scherer said the interactive program was developed for adults and children.

“Weather has become an important topic as severe weather and the results of changing weather patterns affect our world and communities,” Scherer said. “Children are deeply interested in what they see in the media, but sometimes may be a little concerned because they don’t understand the subject…The big picture is to provide information so that the topic of weather is better understood and fills a void that might otherwise be filled with misinformation and conjecture.”

Scherer explained the weather station incorporates a microcomputer with sensors and by teaching the concepts of data gathering, the local weather will be collected and archived by the library as well as weather centers. 

He also said the weather station’s design incorporates future additions or different sensors including any necessary upgrades to the microcomputer. Scherer anticipates reviewing available options annually to see what new information or equipment can help the local and scientific communities.

Scherer said the goal is to keep the program running “for some time to come.”

“Our plans are to provide the weather data to data collection servers that accept data from Personal Weather Stations (PWS),” Scherer said. “When connected, the data will be available at the library and to the data collection servers (i.e. weather underground). We are also extending this station information to local media, if they are interested. By using these data collection services and the library access, the community can have access to local weather.”

Weekly discussion topics:  Sept. 13, Clouds and Lightning; Sept. 20, Storms and Severe Weather; Sept. 27, Space Weather; Oct. 4, Winter Preparedness.

For more information, call 815-384-3111.

Old-fashioned forcasting tools

Source: The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids, Volume 1

THE HIGHER THE CLOUDS, THE FINER THE WEATHER:  If you spot wispy, thin clouds up where jet airplanes fly, expect a spell of pleasant weather. Keep an eye, however, on the smaller puff clouds (cumulus), especially if it’s in the morning or early afternoon. If the rounded tops of these clouds, which have flat bases, grow higher than the one cloud’s width, then there’s a chance of a thunderstorm forming.

CLEAR MOON, FROST SOON:  When the night sky is clear, Earth’s surface cools rapidly—there is no cloud cover to keep the heat in. If the night is clear enough to see the Moon and the temperature drops enough, frost will form. Expect a chilly morning!

WHEN CLOUDS APPEAR LIKE TOWERS, THE EARTH IS REFRESHED BY FREQUENT SHOWERS:  When you spy large, white clouds that look like cauliflower or castles in the sky, there is probably lots of dynamic weather going on inside. Innocent clouds look like billowy cotton, not towers. If the clouds start to swell and take on a gray tint, they’re probably turn into thunderstorms.  Watch out!

RAINBOW IN THE MORNING GIVES YOU FAIR WARNING:  A rainbow in the morning indicates that a shower is west of us and we will probably get it.

RING AROUND THE MOON? RAIN REAL SOON:  A ring around the moon usually indicates an advancing warm front, which means precipitation. Under those conditions, high, thin clouds get lower and thicker as they pass over the moon. Ice crystals are reflected by the moon’s light, causing a halo to appear.

RAIN FORETOLD, LONG LAST. SHORT NOTICE, SOON WILL PASS:  If you find yourself toting an umbrella around for days “just in case,” rain will stick around for several hours when it finally comes. The gray overcast dominating the horizon means a large area is affected. Conversely, if you get caught in a surprise shower, it’s likely to be short-lived.


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