Thursday, February 26, 2015

Three Great Sites for Weather Data

As an Earth Science teacher, weather is always a fun topic to cover with students. We all experience weather everyday, but we hardly ever take the time to stop and truly understand what it is we are experiencing, and wonder why. Within the NGSS the approach towards weather focuses more on interpreting data, drawing conclusions, creating models, and making predictions. (Sounds like science.) However, it can sometimes be difficult to collect enough data in the course of a unit to identify trends and be able to draw accurate conclusions. Here are three great sites that can be used to collect a lot of data and gather more than enough information to start to understand weather. These are also great sites for the "device" weather fanatic that absolutely needs to know if it is sunny out without looking out the window. (I think you all know who I mean...I'm guilty at times)

Weather Underground

While there is always debate about who has the most accurate prediction, this site remains my favorite and most reliable. There are so many features hidden thorough-out the site. You can gather overwhelming amounts of real-time data. There are various reports about air quality, snow depth, mountain conditions, ocean conditions, tides, sunrise and set, moon phase, moon rise and set, 10 day forecasts, historic data, radar, satellite maps, ocean buoy data, real-time interactive maps...etc. The list goes on and on. If you want some really extensive weather data, this is the one-stop-shopping you're looking for. If you need it, it is here. (The surf reports and ocean models are more accurate than your local surf shop.)

NOAA and the NWS

This site offers all the same data as Weather Underground, and more. There is a ton of climate data, long range predictions, precipitation data, river and stream level information, atmospheric condition notifications, like pollen and ozone levels, historic data, explanations, warnings, and great real-time data. My only complaint from a student angle, is the site is a not all that engaging to look at and collect the data. The maps are somewhat stagnant, the site layout is bland and as a result students lose focus. However, for those moments when you are the hardcore weather geek and need a lot of data, you'll find all that you need here.


This tool really only offers real-time data for specific locations. However, the visual presentation, and interactive graphical representations are very engaging for students. This site is very helpful for predicting weather based on previous events and extrapolating the patterns. Students gravitate towards this site because all the "instant gratification" needs are met. You can obtain real-time data very easily.

Combining these three tools will provide students with so much data that you'll need to drag out the green screen technology to have them film their own weather reports.

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