LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Students in Arkansas will be continuing their education online and through AMI Days for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a hard time for everyone, so the Arkansas Storm Team wants to do something to help! We will be providing a weekly weather education lesson, teaching students about a specific topic and showing how to create a fun science experiment at home.
This week’s lesson is all about weather patterns, specifically how warm and cold air interact in the atmosphere! Before we get to the experiment, let’s cover some science about the weather patterns we experience here in Arkansas.
There are two jet streams in the atmosphere that work together to build weather systems.
- The polar jet stream is the main flow that helps push systems from west to east across the continental United States. It is located high up in the atmosphere, where planes fly.
- The tropical jet stream brings moisture through the southern half of the nation.
The Rocky Mountains helps slow faster wind speeds aloft, aiding in the creation of dips in the polar jet stream. This results in the formation of low pressure systems.
Low pressure system have a warm front and cold front that move through the same area. They are represented by a large, red “L” on weather maps.
Warm fronts typically bring warm air and moisture across a region. Cold fronts come with colder and drier air behind them.
When a low pressure system is going to move over an area, the warm front will effect the area first. As a cold front approaches a warm and moist environment, the cold and dry air stays near the ground because it is more dense. Essentially, the cold front will force the warm and moist air to rise and condense. The clash of warm and cold air can result in cloud development, rain and even storms – some which could be strong and/or severe.
Behind cold front, high pressure usually builds up. A high pressure system is denoted by a large, blue “H” on weather maps.
Sunshine and blue skies are associated with high pressure systems. Meanwhile, cloudy and stormy weather is associated with low pressure systems.
For this experiment, we recommend having an adult or older child present to help keep things from getting too messy.
What you’ll need:
- Clear container
- Small bottle
- Red food dye
- Blue food dye
- Ice cube tray or plastic bag
- Mix blue food dye and water together, pour into ice cube tray and place in freezer. (If you don’t have an ice cube try, pour the mixture into a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer.)
- Fill clear container with room temperature water.
- Mix red food dye and warm water together, fill small container with the mixture.
- Drop blue ice cubes into clear container of water, watch blue water fall to the bottom of the container. (This shows how cold air sinks.)
- Slowly place small bottle of red water at the top of the container – it should float. If not, slowly release the water from the small bottle. Watch the red water collect at the top of the container. (This shows how warm air rises.)
Weather Fix Wednesday: Lesson 3 will be released on April 22, 2020 at 1 p.m. The topic will be cloud types