In many parts of the world, particularly in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, springtime comes with the potential for severe storms, including tornadoes. Tornadoes are normally formed when cold, dry air meets warm, moist air and are typically preceded and accompanied by severe thunderstorms known as “super cells.” Tornados can last from a minute or less to over an hour and dissipate when their cyclonic energy is exhausted. We have compiled several sources on the meteorology of tornadoes, preparing for tornadoes, and on the history of tornado events.
In the past month, we have also experienced a different kind of storm that is much further away—the space storm. At the end of January, there was a radiation storm in space that, save for a few disruptions of GPS systems, airline communication systems, and satellites, did not impact general phone or internet connectivity and resulted in dramatic aurora borealis displays, also known as northern lights. We have put together a list of sources that deal with such space storms.
The science behind these kinds of weather phenomena can be difficult to understand, especially for children. We have put together several resources that explain all sorts of weather events in a basic way that kids (and everyone!) can understand.
New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources are already listed in the ipl2 collection.
The Weather Channel Storm Encyclopedia (find it on the ipl2)
Definitions and explanations of the key processes of super cell and tornado formation in terms appropriate for non-specialists.
Accuweather (find it on the ipl2)
This one minute and 15 second video illustrates how tornadoes are formed and shows moving images of actual tornadoes.
NEW! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Tornado Safety Guide
Information on the National Severe Storms Laboratory page on the NOAA website explains both how citizens should prepare for tornadoes and how they should respond to tornado watches and warnings.
NOAA Storm Events (find it on the ipl2)
Users of this site can search this database for specific weather patterns (hail, wind speed, location, etc) to discover when and where storms of a particular type have struck in the United States.
NEW! The Tornado History Project
Users of site can search for storms in United States by dates and locations and learn about the specific injuries and deaths associated with specific storms. The database contains details about storms from 1950 to the present (photos and videos are included for more recent events).
NEW! Space Weather Center
This site provides very simple, easy to understand explanations of all aspects of space weather. There is a “space storms” portal that includes an explanation of the impact that space weather can have on Earth, as well as links to current conditions. There is also an education section with resources dedicated to teachers and students.
Space Weather page on Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) (find it on the ipl2)
A project developed through an “international collaboration between ESA and NASA to study the Sun from its deep core to the outer corona and the solar wind.” The space weather page includes explanatory videos and real-time space weather activity updates.
Current Space Weather Conditions (find it on the ipl2)
“The official source of space weather alerts, warnings, and forecasts,” providing current information on geomagnetic storms, solar winds, solar flares, and aurora activity. The education/outreach page features a FAQ, a glossary of solar-terrestrial terms, a primer on space weather (in English and Spanish), short essays on related topics, and classroom materials. From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Weather for Kids
Weather Wiz Kids (find it on the ipl2)
This site was created by meteorologist Crystal Wicker to teach kids all about weather. The tornado page describes what tornadoes are, how they are formed, other weather phenomena associated with tornadoes and safety tips.
Wild Wild Weather (find it on the ipl2)
Dan Satterfield, meteorologist and Earth Science blogger for the American Geophysical Union, created this site to share his love for weather. The page about tornadoes describes why they occur, shows current warnings across the U.S. and links to instructions for making your own tornado.
NASA’s Space Place (find it on the ipl2)
Maintained by NASA, this site explains space weather in language that kids can understand. It includes lots of pictures, diagrams and videos to make the subject fun and interactive.
Ready Kids (find it on the ipl2)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) teamed up with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create the Ready campaign to prepare Americans for emergencies. This site for kids provides Information on tornadoes, hurricanes and other weather events. It is divided into sections titled “Know the Facts,” “Make a Plan,” “Build a Kit” and “Fun & Games.
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