Archive for Wednesday, May 24, 2000

In the sky: Vinland students learn how weather happens

May 24, 2000

Vinland Elementary School students learned about the weather May 11, and they were video-taped for a TV appearance.

Meteorologist Don Harman visited the students following his morning forecast on WDAF-TV Fox 4. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, Harman gave a basic weather lesson, asked some questions and answered lots of them.

Harman quizzed the students with questions, even offering his 1979 Buick for a right answer which the students were more excited about than he expected. While keeping the students entertained, he talked about the relationship between the weather and the sun, how seasons change and the difference between high and low pressure.

"We are in the bottom of a swimming pool of air that is 20 miles deep," he explained. "High pressure is a deep section of air. Low pressure is a shallower section of air."

The Kansas students were interested in tornadoes on the windy day.

"You can go from clear skies to a tornado in less than an hour," Harman said. A tornado hit Tonganoxie and an area of northern Kansas City, Mo., later that day.

One of the students wanted to know how Harman predicts the next day's weather.

"There is a lot of math and science involved," he said. "At points all across Kansas and Missouri we take different readings. All these numbers are fed into a great big computer."

Another student wanted to know how he knew what it would be like a week in advance.

"The extended outlook is based on things that haven't even happened yet, but we think are going to happen," Harman said. "Sometimes there are things in between that we don't expect to happen. People like to see (the seven-day forecast) so they can plan. It's a general idea."

Barb Brecheisen, Vinland Elementary School secretary, said the students didn't make it on the next day's morning weather telecast, which focused on that Thursday night's damaging tornadoes.

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