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Clouds Dew Fog Hailstones How do we measure the weather?
Lightning & Thunder Rain Snow Wind What makes the weather change?

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We have no way of controlling the weather. It changes all the time. Too much sunshine - not enough rain - storms and winds - frost and snow! These are all part of the Earth's weather and can change from hour to hur, or day to day.

What makes the weather change?

As the heat of the Sun reaches Earth, it warms the air and makes it move around in the atmosphere. This causes the wind to blow, water vapour to rise and clouds to form to make rain and snow.

It's the same old rain again

All life on Earth depends on light from the Sun, but it also depends on an endless supply of water.

Did you know that the same old rain falls to Earth over and over again?

When warm winds blow over oceans or seas, the water on the top evaporates. This moisture then rises to form clouds in the sky.

As the clouds are blown over mountains or hills by the wind, they become cool. The moisture forms water droplets that fall to Earth as rain.

The rain runs into streams, then rivers and is carried back to the sea - to start all over again!

Different clouds mean different weather

Cirrus The highest clouds of all. Made of specks of ice, they have wispy, feathery shapes. Sometimes they are called 'mare-tails'.
Status Thin, low layers of grey cloud that often cover high ground. They usually bring drizzle.
Cumulus Low, fluffy white clouds, like heaps of cotton wool that drift across the sky. They bring fine weather and sunny spells.
Cumulonimbus Towering clouds like billowing smoke that reach high up into the sky. If the clouds are heavy and dark, a thunderstorm may be close by!


Hailstones are raindrops that freeze as they fall through layers of very cold air. When they fall down from the sky, hailstones are usually as big as peas. Sometimes they can be as big as tennis balls - so watch out!


When water vapour in the clouds freezes it makes tiny ice crystals. These join together to form snowflakes. If you look at a snowflade through a magnifying glass, you will see that most of thes beautiful crystals form six-sided patterns. You will never find two the same - however hard you look!

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Fog is cloud that is near the ground instead of up in the sky. It forms when damp air cools and hangs in the air. When the fog is thick, you can't see very well.

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On clear cloudless nights some of the Earth's warmth is lost in the atmosphere. The air near the ground cools and forms little drops of water that we call dew. If the temperature is below freezing the dew becomes frost.

Lightening and thunder

Lightning is a huge electric spark passing between two clouds or travelling from a cloud to the Earth. The loud crack of thunder we hear is the noise made by the giant spark, as the air expands round it. Lightning and thunder happen at the same time, but you see the flash before you hear the thunder, because light travels faster than sound.

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Can you see the wind? Of course not! Wind is just air moving around. The wind can be a gentle breeze or a fierce hurricane blowing at a spped of 120 kph (75mph). When the Earth's surface is warm, the air above it is heated and rises. Then cool air flows in to take its place. That movement of air is called wind.

How do we measure the weather?

Weather Satellite This orbits the Earth at a height of 700km (434 miles) and sends back pictures of clouds and weather patterns.

Shows which way the wind is blowing.
Rain Gauge Measures the amount of rain that has fallen.
Anemometer This measures the wind speed.
Sunshine Recorder Measures the hours of sunshine in a day.
Thermometer Tells us how high or low the temperature is.
Barometer Measures the pressure of the atmosphere.

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