We have all been let down by a local forecast that did not accurately predict rain at some point in our lives. Weather forecasting is a difficult, inexact science. On a global scale, colliding air masses drive weather systems, but how those systems play out locally is a factor of geography added to the local and global pressure, temperature, and moisture differences.
Still, while accurate weather prediction is difficult, there are some methods for prediction that provide some usable results, if not perfectly accurate all the time. This presentation focuses on the "trends" method of weather forecasting. In the trends method, a forecaster looks at a front moving towards the area, looks at the speed at which that front is moving, and calculates when that front will arrive at his or her location. In this presentation, visitors play the role of a concert promoter trying to decide whether or not to spend additional money to weather proof equipment for an outdoor concert. Visitors learn to identify fronts in satellite data and learn that the speed and direction in which a front is moving can give you a starting point for predicting weather.
This docent-led program is a 15-20 minute presentation that uses only the Science On a Sphere and starts with an introductory animation that is narrated. There is also a workshop version that is a 45 minute school program that uses Science On a Sphere and includes hands-on demonstrations of what happens when warm, wet air is mixed with cold, dry air. A corresponding autorun version is also available.