WW2010
University of Illinois

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Interpreting Weather Symbols
scaffolding activity

Introduction:
In addition to temperature, dew point temperature, cloud cover, pressure and wind observations, a surface observation symbol also reports the current weather through the weather symbol. Conditions for clear skies, rain, snow and fog have appropriate symbols which are displayed as needed for each station report. The purpose of this activity is to introduce the most common weather symbols and how to interpret current weather conditions for cities on a map of surface observations. Key words throughout this activity link directly to helper resources that provide useful information for answering the questions.


Location of Weather Symbol:
1) Fill in the blanks of the diagram to indicate what type of meteorological data is represented by each position. Then circle the position of the weather symbol. You may label the diagram in one of two ways; 1) by printing out a copy of this activity and marking your answers directly onto the printout or 2) by saving the image into your favorite graphics software and modifying the image using that graphics package.


Common Weather Symbols:
2) For the following table of common weather symbols, fill in the blanks labeled #1 through #7. You may label the diagram in one of two ways; 1) by printing out a copy of this activity and marking your answers directly onto the printout or 2) by saving the image into your favorite graphics software and modifying the image using that graphics package.







Reporting Weather Conditions:
3) Below is a map of surface observations, and for each station that used a weather symbol in the station report, give the name of the city and the type of weather reported at that time. For each type of precipitation identified, indicate its intensity (whether its light, moderate or heavy). There are a total of 11 cities for which this data must be recorded.

Example: #1: Bismark, ND -- Moderate Snow








Reporting Current Weather Conditions:
4) Now apply what you have learned to real-time weather data. Go to the Weather Visualizer ( CoVis version | public version), create the latest map of surface observations. From this map, report the current weather (weather symbol) for each station you identified in question #3. If no symbol was given, then simply write, "No Significant Weather".

If the Weather Visualizer is too busy, here are additional web sites for accessing current weather data.



observation symbols
Terms for using data resources. CD-ROM available.
Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

forecasting temps