Severe Weather Emergency Planning for Public Schools

The purpose of this guide is to provide assistance to school administrators and teachers in designing a severe weather emergency plan for their school. While not every possible situation is covered by the guide, it will provide enough information to serve as a starting point and a general outline of actions to take. The majority of material focuses on thunderstorms and the hazards these storms produce - lightning, hail, tornadoes, and flash floods. Thunderstorms can occur suddenly, with little warning. To insure safety, actions must be taken quickly. This will become more apparent in Section 1: "Understanding the Danger: Why an Emergency Plan is Needed."

Once you comprehend the scope of the problem, you can begin to address how to reduce the potential hazards. Section 2 of the guide, "Designing Your Plan", details more specifically how to get your weather information, how teachers and students can be alerted to the emergency, and what actions under what circumstances should be taken to reduce the danger. Safety is always the foremost concern. The ultimate goal is to "quickly inform teachers and students anywhere on the school grounds to the threat of severe weather and to move them as quickly as possible to a pre-designated shelters." This section also discuses school bus actions in severe weather.

For any plan to work efficiently, it must be practiced. It is recommended that schools conduct semi-annual drills and that severe weather safety instruction be apart of this phase. It is important to understand why certain actions are being taken, to know the weather terms that are being used, and to know what visual clues can signal you to potential dangers ahead. Section 3 of the guide will provide some basic severe weather background on how thunderstorms evolve, what signals to watch, and how the National Weather Service (NWS) detects and tracks severe weather.

The appendices in this guide are loaded with reference materials to assist you in both designing your plan and gathering educational materials for severe weather instruction. There is a glossary of weather terms, an NWS products list, and safety tips for the various types of weather hazards (not just thunderstorms). There is a list of local NWS and state emergency management contacts if more assistance is needed.

Who Will Design Your Guide?

Before you begin, it is recommended that one person be designated as the "Severe Weather Coordinator". Such a person may be a teacher or administrator with an interest in weather who is willing to attend local NWS spotter training programs (no fees). The coordinator would also be responsible for developing the plan and working with the local school board, administrators and teachers to implement the plan.

Understanding the Danger: Why an Emergency Plan Is Needed

A. Lightning

It's a warm, afternoon and the football team is on the field practicing. Some parents and a few other spectators sit in the bleachers watching the play. The sky to the west is darkening and a warm breeze has picked up. The rumble of thunder can be heard In the distance. Keeping a watchful eye to the sky, the coach figures he can get through most of the practice before the rain comes. There is a big game on Saturday and only one practice left. He can't afford to let up now.

The practice continues, the thunder gets louder and the sky a bit darker. A cool, gusty wind now blows in from the west, but still no rain. A parent walks over to the coach and asks about the chance of practice being called early. The coach smiles and says, "I've been watching that storm and it appears to be passing north of us now." The sky begins to lighten to the west and a couple of sun rays beam down from beneath the towering clouds. Suddenly, a white streak hits the uprights in the end zone with a deafening roar. Players, near that end of the field, tumble to the ground.

There is confusion. What happened? Where did the lightning come from? The storm was at least 5 miles away and none of the previous strokes were anywhere near the school. It seemed to just come out of the blue! In 1988, eleven players on the Silver City, NM football team where taken to the hospital after lightning struck their practice field. Fortunately none were killed, but four were seriously injured. Every year lightning hits ball fields during little league and soccer games. Many games are not called until the rain begins, and yet it is not the rain that is dangerous. Ball fields provide a lot of potential lightning targets such as poles, metal fences, and metal bleachers. The fields themselves are wide open areas where players are often the tallest objects around.

Maryland averages between 35 and 45 thunderstorm days each year. Lightning is the most common thunderstorm threat. Nationally, lightning kills an average of 85 and injures 250 people each year. This number may not seem high, yet when you look at the individual cases, most could have boon prevented. The basic rule of thumb is, "If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck!" Thunderstorms extend 5 to 10 miles into the atmosphere. Winds aloft can blow the upper portion (anvil) of the storm many miles downstream. Lightning can come out of the side or anvil of the storm striking the ground 10 to 15 miles away from the rain portion of the cloud.

B. Flash Floods

Heavy rains from thunderstorms had been occurring all day in the foothills of Kentucky and the National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch around noon. The rain had let up by the time the children loaded the buses at Hillboro Elementary School. With a full load of children, Fred started the bus and pulled out.

Fred had been driving this route for over five years and had never encountered any flood problems. He didn't expect any today. About halfway through his route, he turned onto Dark Hollow Road. The road crosses a small stream and this afternoon, the stream was out of its banks and flowing across the road. Fred slowed the bus as he approached the water. If he turned around, it would take him an extra hour to get the remaining children home. The water looked less than a foot deep. Certainly, the bus could safely cross that. He decided to move forward.

The bus moved easily through the water, but as it approached the bridge, the front tires fell into a hole. With the water over the road, Fred hadn't seen that the pavement had been undermined. He attempted to back out, but the bus wouldn't budge. What was worse, the water was continuing to rise and was now more than a foot and a half above the road! Fred knew he better act fast. There was still eleven children oh the bus.

About 50 yards away was higher ground, a hillside. They would head there. The current was picking up. He would have to carry the smaller ones. His third and last trip from the bus to the hill was a hard one. In just 10 minutes, the water had risen to waist deep and he could barely keep his footing. Grabbing onto to trees and bushes along the way, he pulled himself and the last child to the hillside and out of the water. He was exhausted. He wouldn't have made it if he had to carry one more. As he turned around to look back at the bus, the bus overturned and washed into the raging waters.

Floods occur every year in Maryland. Nationally, it is the number one weather-related killer, averaging 150 deaths per year. Half of these deaths occur involving passengers or drivers in automobiles. NEVER ENTER FLOODED WATERS! If caught in rising water, abandon your vehicle immediately and move to higher ground. Fred and the children were lucky. He acted quickly and got them to safety, but he never should have attempted to cross the flooded area to begin with.

C. Severe Thunderstorms - Hail, Downbursts, and Tornadoes

It is 1:30 pm and the school principal has just learned that the National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch. Thunderstorms are building to the west and are expected to hit the school district in less than an hour. He decides to cancel all outdoor activities and make an announcement to inform the teachers and staff.

At 2:05 pm, it begins to get very dark outside and there is a rumble of thunder. The principal steps out to have a look. The sky appears as if its boiling and has taken on a green tinge. The wind picks up and the trees begin to sway. A cool blast hits him and a cloud of dust blows across the parking lot. "This storm doesn't look good." He reenters the building and is told the National Weather Service has just issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for their county. Suddenly, he hears a roar of wind and a crash. The storm has let loose a downburst - a sudden, strong rush of wind.

He rushes toward the source of the noise. A branch from a nearby tree shattered a window in a classroom. A few children were injured from the flying glass. Two will need stitches. He evacuates the classrooms on the windward side and moves the children into the interior music room which has no windows. They will be safe in there.

Hail begins to fall and grow larger in size. The physical education instructor is barely heard above the roar of the hail striking the gymnasium roof and skylights. She moves the students into the locker rooms where it is safer. Large hail can impact at 100 mph. Suddenly, the skylights shatter.

The principal decides to play it safe and move all students into the interior hallways. The lights flicker and the power goes out. He can't announce it on the PA system so he grabs a bull horn and begins rapidly moving through the school. The students and teachers empty out of the classrooms, a little confused. Some are excited by the commotion and some are scared by the storm. The hallways are noisy with anxious voices, but quiet down when a roar, similar to the sound of a train drowns them out. Teachers yell "Get Down! Drop to your knees and cover your head! Glass is heard breaking.

It is all over in just a couple minutes. Only ten minutes had passed since the thunder began. A tornado had struck the school. The classrooms on the south side of the school were destroyed. The cafeteria and gymnasium roofs were gone. Children and teachers were shaken, but injuries were relatively minor. No one was killed.

On May 2,1929, four schools were destroyed in a severe tornado outbreak. Two of the schools were in session when the tornadoes struck. Fourteen students and teachers were killed and over 60 Injured. On April 1, 1973, a strong tornado struck Woodson High School in Fairfax Virginia. Fortunately it was Sunday. The same school was struck by another tornado just six years later. On November 9, 1926, at 2:30 p.m., a tornado struck a school house in La Plata, Maryland. Sixty children and two teachers were inside. The building was lifted off its foundation and smashed into trees 50 feet away. Fourteen students were killed, the other 48 people were injured. Debris was found up to 25 miles away.  September 24, 2002 brought a fast moving F-4 tornado to the University of Maryland at College Park.  Two studnets will killed, and dozens injured.  On April 28, 2002, a category F-5 tornado -- the most intense ever observed in Maryland -- hit La Plata again, killing 3 and injuring over 100!

Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms are not as frequent on the East Coast as in the Plains, but they do occur. An average of somehwere around 3 to 5 tornadoes touch down in maryland every year. Since 1950 every county of the state has experienced at least one tornado, and usually well above that figure. Many more storms produce damaging straight line winds, downbursts and damaging hail. Because the principal in this scenario took the proper actions, lives were saved.

D. Conclusions

Flash floods, severe thunderstorms, and tornadoes occur With rapid onset and perhaps, no warning. Decisions must be made fast and actions taken immediately. One can not wait for the storms to strike to plan what must be done to save lives. Get prepared now and develop an emergency action plan for your school.

Schools may want to consider what to do when hurricanes, winter storms, excessive cold or excessive heat is expected to affect the school district. This type of weather, however, is usually predicted at least a day in advance allowing more time to make decisions about the operations of the school. These weather hazards are discussed further in Section 2, Part G.


Designing Your Plan

A. How to get Emergency Weather Information:

Use the internet (if working), and go to

Because tornadoes occur with little, if any, warning, minutes and even seconds can mean lives. In just five minutes, a tornado may travel two to four miles on the ground. From the time the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a warning, to the time you receive that warning via radio or television, ten minutes may have elapsed. Also, you must be listening at the critical moment that the warning is announced or an even greater amount of time will pass!

The fastest, most accurate and reliable means of receiving critical weather information at your school is through a NOAA Weather Radio with a "tone alert" feature. NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is operated directly from NWS Offices and is part of our country's National Warning System. When NWS issues a tornado warning, the "tone alert' (1050 Hertz) is instantly sounded followed by warning information.

The NWR"tone alert" feature is used for the issuance of all weather warnings as well as severe thunderstorm, flash flood, hurricane, and tornado watches. (See appendix A for Watch/Warning definitions). NWS broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the latest weather information from daily forecasts to special weather statements about sudden shifts in the weather patterns or the development of potentially hazardous weather. (For more information on NWR see appendix D).

If your school is not in a reliable NWR listening area (due to interference or other sources) and this will not be helped by attaching your radio to an exterior antenna, then below are some suggested alternatives

1) If you have cable television access, the Weather Channel uses NWS products and broadcasts warnings immediately upon receipt from NWS via a satellite link. Some cable companies include a channel with a local NWS radar display and use NWR as a voice-over.

2) Monitor your primary Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio station (see Appendix E for listing). EAS operates on a cooperative agreement between broadcasters and federal, state Division of Disaster and Emergency Services and, sometimes, with local DES agencies. EAS is activated for tornado warnings and severe flash flooding, but can be used to announce other disasters such as earthquakes.

3) Monitor your local radio news station, and check to see if there is a Cable TV service that can be used for warning purposes.

Phone call-down systems which rely on verbal messages repeated from phone to phone are not advised for receipt of warning information. Problems with a call-down system are (1) time elapsed in relaying information, (2) chance of incorrect or incomplete information being passed, and (3) a lack of reliability of phone systems during storms. The NWS advises people not to use telephones during an electrical storm anyway.

Your radio or television should be located in the main office or near the person(s) responsible for enacting the plan. Main offices are good because generally there is always a number of people around who could hear the alert, and in a quick emergency, it is close to the public address (PA) system. If using a NWR, the radio should be set at all times in "Alert" mode. Some radios will automatically turn on when an alert sounds while others must be manually turned on. It is probably better to have the type that automatically turns on in case you are out of the room when the tone is activated. If using NWR, the information cycles every few minutes, so if you don't get all the information you need the first time through, it will repeat shortly.

Listen for the type of watch or warning and where it is in effect. The person(s) monitoring must know what action they should take based on this information. It is suggested you have a map nearby for easy reference to counties and towns to locate storms and their movement in reference to your school. There is no need to take emergency action if the warning is not for your location. It should, however, heighten your awareness to the potential for severe weather to affect your school district, especially if the warning is for a county northwest of you and the storms are moving southeast.

B. How will the School Administration Alert Teachers and Students to Take Action?

Most schools utilize a public address (PA) system to talk directly to students and teachers. In some cases, electricity may be lost during a storm before you have activated your plan. Therefore, it is critical to have a back-up alerting device such as a compressed air horn or megaphone.

If your school has mobile classrooms or detached gymnasiums that are not part of a PA or intercom system, then special arrangements should be made to notify these areas. Sending "runners" outside to mobile classrooms is not advisable due to the danger posed by lightning and the approaching storm. Wireless communication devices are an effective means for such communication. "Walkie-talkies" may be the least expensive.

Handicapped or learning-disabled students may also require special attention. You may want a teacher to be assigned to each student requiring special attention to see that the student moves to the appropriate place of safety. Any students that are in a position not to hear the warning must be taken into account.

To insure appropriate action and understanding of your "Call to Action," you must exorcise your plan. (See part H of this section on drills and the need for severe weather Instruction).

C. Determining Tornado and High Wind Safety Zones In Your School:

This may be the most time consuming and complex phase of designing your plan. Schools are sufficiently complex and diverse in design that it is impossible to describe an exact plan here that will apply to every school. Due to this complexity, it is recommended that this phase of the plan be accomplished with the help of an engineer or architect familiar with the school's design. There are, however, general guidelines and basic concepts that can be discussed.

The greatest dangers from high winds (tornado, hurricane, thunderstorm, downburst, etc.) are: (1) roof failure, (2) breaking glass, and (3) flying debris (airborne missiles).

The most dangerous locations are generally large rooms with big expansive roofs such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, and auditoriums. The collapse of the room's load-bearing wall may lead to the failure of the entire roof. Roofs tend to rely on gravity to keep them attached. When strong winds act on a structure, pressure differences are created causing outward pressures forces acting to lift the roof. (See diagram 1). Rooms with large windows that may shatter from being struck by airborne missiles or from pressure stresses are alto extremely dangerous. While windows on the side of the school facing the storm are most susceptible, as the storm passes, any windows could potentially shatter. Once winds enter a building, additional damage can be like a domino affect. This is one of the reasons that it is no longer advised that windows be opened! Greater damage may occur from this action and valuable time can be lost that should be used getting to safety. .

Small interior rooms, bathrooms, and windowless, interior hallways that are away from exterior doors offer the best protection. Interior load-bearing walls (with short roof spans) provide better protection than temporary or non-load-bearing walls and structures. If your school has more than one story, evacuate the upper level of your school. The lowest level is always the safest.

Schools designed for the "open classroom" concept used in the early 1970s have a difficult task of finding safe areas due to a lack of interior load-bearing walls, large spanning roofs and the use of a lot of glass. You may not be able to find enough "ideal" space to occupy your whole student body. It may be a matter of determining the lesser of evils. Below is a list beginning with the highest probability of failure:

(1) Windows on exterior walls

(2) Rooms with large or long roof spans; mobile classrooms

(3) Exterior walls of upper level; roof

(4) Interior walls of upper level; exterior walls of lower level and interior glass.

(5) Interior, lower level, non-load-bearing walls.

Fortunately, the majority of tornadoes will not destroy well constructed buildings and damage in about 70 percent of cases should not go beyond #2. Using these considerations you may want to rank areas according to safety. Then begin by filling the safest areas first with students and continue until you have found space for the entire student body.

Again, it is best to have an engineer or architect advise your school on the safest areas since schools are built with varied designs and purposes. The priorities listed above are based on broad generalities. You may contact your County director of Disaster and Emergency Services for scheduling a shelter survey; the State Division of Disaster and Emergency Services will cooperate in this to provide a current, safe survey of your school facilities, and help in determining the best areas to use for shelter.

D. When to Activate Your Plan and When It Is Safe To Return to Normal Activities.

When deciding to activate a plan, you must use as much information as possible about the type of storms, expected impact and time of impact on your school district to access the risk. A plan may work best with phases of activation. For instance, outdoor activities will be the most susceptible to weather hazards with lightning being the greatest threat. As soon as thunder is heard (not when the rain begins), outdoor activities should be delayed. The delay should last until the storm has passed and thunder is no longer heard (about 5 to 10 minutes has elapsed since last heard). (See section I.A on lightning dangers and appendix C.3 on lightning safety).

In a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch, outdoor activities should be postponed and as storms approach, you may want to move students from the most susceptible areas such as mobile classrooms and gymnasiums as a precaution even though a warning has yet to be issued. You may want to post teachers or school personnel trained in spotting severe weather to watch the storms as they approach for the need to take special actions (See section 3 on severe weather spotter training).

If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, all of the above actions are warranted. In addition to strong damaging winds, severe thunderstorms may contain large hail and students should be moved out of areas with skylights. (See section l.C on hall and severe thunderstorm winds). If you have areas where large exterior windows may be struck by the thunderstorm's winds, it also is advisable to keep students out of these areas until the storm passes.

If a tornado warning is issued and you have determined that your school is in the path of this storm, an immediate and complete "Call to Action" is needed. If the storm has not yet reached your school, begin moving students from unsafe areas as listed above and post a trained teacher or school employee to keep an eye on the storm's approach. (From your drills you should know approximately how long it will take to move students into "tornado safe areas.") As the storm begins to hit your school, move all students to tornado safe areas (interior halls, etc.). If winds begin to pick-up outside the school (or if a roar is heard or large hail is falling) have students and teachers drop immediately into the protective position (see diagram 2). Winds may increase at the onset of the storm and may or may not drop off prior to the tornado. Rain may or may not be occurring. Large hail is a signal that you are near the part of the storm in which the tornado would occur. Once the storm has past, students may return to classrooms. Stay alert for the potential for additional storms. One special consideration would be the complication of activating a full "Call to Action" plan during class changes, When the halls are crowded and students may not know where to go. It may be best to hold classes beyond regular dismissal time until the severe weather threat has passed. Likewise, at the end of the school day, students may need to be held from boarding busses until the danger has passed.

You should have at least a couple of dependable persons from your staff who know how to shut off the main electrical power switch, and also the main gas valve, if applicable. After a tornado or severe thunderstorm, it could be very important to immediately shut off the gas and electric supply to the building because of the secondary risk of fire.

E. Determining When to Hold Departure of School Buses:

You will want to consider holding the departure of students to buses whenever watches or warnings are in effect. There are two primary considerations:

(1) Upon departure from school, how long a time will be required before all students have been deposited safely at home? Include time for the students to walk from their bus stop to their home.

(2) How much time do you have before the storms are expected to impact your district? Severe thunderstorm and tornado watches are sometimes issued a couple hours in advance of thunderstorm development. Watches are generally issued for large areas, so once storms have developed, it may be a couple hours before the storms reach you. On the other hand, it may be a rapidly-developing situation with less than an hour before the storm impacts your location.

If there is not time for students to reach their homes safely, then a delayed departure is definitely recommended. Busses provide no protection from severe storms! The next section will discuss what bus drivers should do if faced with an approaching tornado, or by flood waters which are in the path of the bus.

Neither is it advisable for parents to be coming to the school in order to pick up their children in threatening severe weather. Parents must be brought to understand that the child is far safer at the school with the severe weather plan in place than on the road where a storm may strike. Other considerations include whether a large number of children from your school district live in mobile or other types of manufactured homes. The school shelters would provide a far safer environment. Mobile homes are extremely vulnerable to high winds (even when properly anchored and tied down). A storm that would inflict minor damage to a school often would completely destroy a mobile home.

F. School Bus Actions:

All school bus drivers should be trained on how to handle severe weather situations. Two primary concerns are flash floods and tornadoes. Additional thought might be given to high wind situations (thunderstorm or other), unexpected heavy snow or ice, extreme heat or cold. In most situations, these events are forecast in advance, but there tire times when it may catch you by surprise.


NEVER ATTEMPT TO OUTRUN A TORNADO! If a bus driver has reason to believe a tornado is approaching, the following steps should be taken.

a) If you have the time to get to a well-constructed building that you can unload students into, then certainly do so as fast as possible. Move them into the interior or basement of the building away from windows and doors.

b) If no well-constructed building is available, highway underpasses can provide protection. Stop the bus just downwind from the underpass so that high winds do not blow it in your direction. Move the students up under the overpass structure. Have them get in position with their hands over the head. (See diagram 2).

c) If no building or underpass is available, look for a ditch or low-lying area (preferably without water). Make sure the bus is parked downwind from the location you have selected. Unload the students to the low-lying area and have them get in position with their hands over their head. (See diagram 2).


NEVER ATTEMPT TO DRIVE THROUGH FLOOD WATERS! If your bus route takes you across small streams and creeks or along a river, you need to have either an alternate route to travel or a contingency plan to return to the school if flood waters are encountered. Major river flooding and coastal flooding generally is well forecast with warnings issued early enough that schools and drivers can plan their strategy prior to placing the students on the bus. Flash flooding (a sudden and dramatic rise in water levels leading to flood conditions) does not give any advance warning before it strikes. It is this type of flooding about which all drivers need to understand, knoing both what to do and what not to do.

In general, a shallow ponding of water on the roadway is usually not a problem, but as soon as the depth of the water comes into question, particularly in cases where the road may have been undermined, drivers should not enter. Do not enter underpasses that are filling with water. If the water appears to be flowing (moving across the road), do not enter the water. (See section 1-B and appendix C.4 for more details).

Water levels can rise extremely rapidly and the force of that water against an automobile and even a but can be amazingly powerful. If the driver is caught in an unavoidable situation, seek higher ground immediately. If the bus stalls, and water is rising, abandon the bus and seek higher ground before the situation gets out of control.


Children awaiting the school bus in the morning, standing exposed to a cold wind without proper clothing for protection, may develop hypothermia. School bus drivers at well as teachers should be taught to recognize symptoms of hypothermia and frost bite described in part 7 of appendix C.

On hot, humid days, some children may have difficulty handling the heat. They may be boarding the bus from an athletic event or coming from a hot classroom. A child may be dehydrated and starting to show signs of heat exhaustion. Again, drivers should be taught to recognize symptoms of heat stress. See part 8 of appendix C.

G. Special Considerations for Other Weather Hazards:


A hurricane is a large spiraling complex of thunderstorms up to 500 miles in diameter. Hurricanes and tropical storms have produced extreme coastal flooding, flash flooding, and river flooding not only in coastal states along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, but have surged inland to reach Kentucky numerous times. Winds caused by these severe storm systems have gusted to speeds greater than 100 mph, have spawned tornadoes, and are major concerns.

By listening to statements from your local National Weather Service Office and your local Disaster and Emergency Services, you should know what is expected to occur in your school district prior to the storm striking, and can make your decisions accordingly. If school is in process when the storm strikes, then the threat and actions to take are similar to those mentioned for flooding, lightning, and strong damaging winds. Schools Susceptible to river or coastal flooding may be asked to evacuate. Other schools may become shelters for people in flood prone areas or those living in mobile homes. Actions taken by those sheltered at the school should be the same as if the school were In session.


About 60 percent of deaths in winter storms occur in vehicle accidents on icy and snowy roads. Some deaths occur from exposure to the cold, whether trapped out in the storm or caught indoors without heat or electricity. Those most susceptible to the cold are young children and elderly. Some deaths occur from fires started by improper use of alternative heat sources such as fireplaces, woodstoves, and space heaters. When the National Weather Service issues a Winter Storm Warning, people should not venture out. Proper preparedness, wearing appropriate winter clothes, and following safety procedures will save lives. See appendix C on winter storm safety.

In addition to Winter Storm Warnings, schools need to also be concerned about exposure to cold as students stand waiting buses to pick them up or during an outdoor recess. The degree of exposure the student will experience will be a function of the temperature, the wind, the clothes they wear, and the amount of time they are exposed. The National Weather Service issues Wind Chill Advisories when the wind chill temperature is expected to reach minus-30 F or colder. At minus-30 F, exposed flesh can become quickly frost bitten. If the morning temperature is 5 F and the wind is blowing 15 mph; the wind chill temperature is minus-25 F.

In cases of extreme cold, proper clothing is very important and needs to be stressed to the students. Teachers should be taught to recognize symptoms of frost bite and hypothermia. See part 7 of Appendix C. Outdoor activities may need to be canceled. Delaying school hours may or may not solve the problem of students standing at bus stops in the cold. Bus stop shelters would help protect the students from the exposure to wind.


While most heat waves hit when many schools are not in session, temperatures can occasionally soar into the 90s in May and September. Like wind multiplies the effect of cold temperatures, humidity adds to the effects of heat. A "heat index" Is used to combine these effects. The National Weather Service headlines the heat index in its forecasts when it is expected to reach 105 F. At temperatures of 105 F and greater, heat disorders such as cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke are possible. Students should be kept out of the sun and strenuous activities should be eliminated. Encourage students to drink plenty of water and wear light-colored, light-weight clothing. Teachers and staff members should familiarize themselves with the symptoms of heat disorders and first aid procedures. See appendix C.B.

H. Need for Periodic Drills and Severe Weather Safety Instruction:

In order to have an effective severe weather emergency plan, you must have periodic severe weather drills and severe weather safety training. Drills not only teach students and instructors the actions they need to take, but will allow you to evaluate your plans effectiveness. Did everyone hear the message, did they understand what to do, and were they able to get to the designated areas of safety in a reasonable amount of time? It is suggested that you conduct such drills in conjunction with a severe weather education and awareness program so that students and teachers understand the dangers of severe weather and better comprehend the actions that they are asked to take.

The NWS runs a  "Severe Weather Awareness" campaign the last week in March before the onset of the severe weather season. This campaign is coordinated through the state and local government emergency management agencies and the news media and usually includes a proclamation from the governor. This may be an opportune time for your school to conduct a drill and program. You can contact your local NWS office or emergency management office if you would like a speaker to come to your school and discuss severe weather safety. It also suggested that a drill is conducted at the beginning of the school year, August or September. This will instruct new students of procedures and act as a refresher for returning students. While severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are often advertised as "springtime" events, Kentucky often has had outbreaks of severe thunderstorms in fall months such as October and November and tornadoes can (and do) strike every month of the year.


A. Basic facts about Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms occur in all 50 states. They can occur at any time, day or night, throughout the entire year. Thunderstorms are most common in the late afternoon and evening during the warm months. It has been estimated that 1800 thunderstorms are in progress at any given moment around the world and that lightning strikes the earth 100 times every second. 'thunderstorms are basically beneficial, providing necessary rainfall. In the United States, only about five percent of thunderstorms become severe and only about one percent produce tornadoes.

What makes a typical thunderstorm:

Thunderstorms range between 5 and 25 miles in diameter making it a very localized storm. There are three essential ingredients necessary to grow a thunderstorm:

I) Moisture -- Moisture is necessary to form the cloud and rain.

2) Instability -- Warm air is less dense (lighter) than cold air. The sun warms the ground and evaporation increases the humidity, the air mass begins to destabilize. If there is cooler, drier air above, the tendency would be for the air mass to want to overturn (the warm air rises and the cold air sinks). This is instability.

3) Lift - This is the trigger that starts the air rising and causes the storm. An example of lift it air moving up a mountain or air colliding with a front. A front is a boundary between two different air masses. Where the air masses collide, the less dense air (usually warmer or more humid) will rise over the other. Cool air blowing from an ocean or lake can form a sea-breeze front as it collides with the warm air in turn heated by the day's sun. The cool outflow from a thunderstorm forms a "gust front" which in turn may cause the development of a new thunderstorm.

The thunderstorm life cycle:

1) Towering cumulus stage -- Imagine a parcel of air like a balloon. If the air in the balloon is warmer than the environment around it, it will rise. As the balloon (air parcel) rises, the air cools, eventually cooling to Its condensation point. A cloud becomes visible. As the air condenses, heat is released which helps the air parcel remain warmer than its surrounding environment, and so, it continues to rise, building up speed. This rising air forms the updraft, a thermal. A towering cumulus cloud has grown with crisp, hard edges forming a puffy or cauliflower look to the cloud. The height of the cloud is usually equal to or greater than the cloud's width.

2) Mature thunderstorm -- The warm air continues rising until eventually it cools to the temperature of its surrounding environment. This is often not until it hits the tropopause and the more stable air of the stratosphere. The storm may now have reached a height of 5 to 10 miles. The rising air has been moving at speeds near 40 mph. Now as it slows, the upper level winds begin to fan out the cloud downwind, forming the anvil. With strong winds aloft and longer lasting storms, anvils can spread 100 miles downwind.

A thunderstorm's updraft can carry 8,000 tons of water aloft per minute! The water vapor condenses into cloud droplets which continue to collide and grow in the rising updraft of air. Eventually, the weight of the droplet overcomes the rising air, and it falls. The failing rain droplets begin to drag the air down around them and a downdraft forms. The rain also is falling into unsaturated air and so some evaporation occurs. Evaporation is a cooling process (the opposite of condensing, which is a heating process). This rain-cooled air is now cooler than its surrounding environment and so it sinks, helping to form and intensify the downdraft. A thunderstorm with concurrent updrafts and downdrafts is considered mature.

3) Dissipating stage - As the downdraft hits the ground, the rain-cooled air begins to spread out in all directions. Eventually, this more stable air (since it is cool) chokes off the warm inflow that was driving the storm's updraft. With no new fuel to keep the storm alive, it dies. The downdraft dominates and the storm rains itself out. Sometimes, all that is left it the anvil.

The life cycle from a growing cumulus cloud to the dissipated storm takes only 30 minutes.

What causes thunder?

A lightning stroke carries an electrical potential of 100 million volts. This tremendous release of energy is converted to heat. Air around the lightning channel explosively expands as it is heated to nearly 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit! After the discharge, the air rapidly cools and contracts. This sudden expansion and contraction of air molecules produces the sound wave which we identify as "thunder." Because the speed of light is a million times faster than that of sound, we see a lightning stroke before we hear it.

You can estimate the distance (in miles) to a lightning stroke by counting the number of seconds elapsed between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder, then divide by five. Just remember that lightning can come from the anvil portion of the thunderstorm and strike the ground 10 to 15 miles from the rain portion of the storm. So, just because you are estimating lightning at a distance of 2 or 4 miles away, that doesn't mean that the next strike won't be right next to you!

B. The Severe Thunderstorm

The more unstable the air mass and the stronger the lifting mechanism, the stronger the thunderstorm updraft becomes and the more likely the storm will be severe. The National Weather Service defines a severe thunderstorms as a storm producing three-quarter inch or larger hail and/or winds greater than 65 mph. When thunderstorm updrafts reach speeds of 70 mph, they can support the growth of hailstones.

A hailstone is a lump of ice that falls' from a thunderstorm. It can range from pea size to the size of grapefruit. Such large hail can impact the ground at nearly 1 00 mph demolishing crops, breaking windows, and damaging roofs, cars and airplanes. Hail begins as rain droplets which are carded by strong updrafts to high altitudes (well above the freezing level) where they are frozen into ice pellets. The ice pellets collide with more water droplets which freeze to the surface of the developing hail stone, increasing its size. The stone continues to grow until the updraft no longer can suspend its weight, and the hail falls to the ground.

Long-lasting thunderstorms, sometimes referred to as supercells, are more likely to be severe. For a thunderstorm to last, it must be able to sustain both its updraft and its downdraft. One way that this occurs is with increasing winds with height. If the horizontal wind, blowing into the storm, is stronger in the mid and upper reaches of the storm, the rising updraft becomes tilted. Now the rain is carried downwind of the updraft instead of collapsing upon it. If the horizontal wind, blowing into the storm, veers with height (changes direction; in a clockwise motion), the storm's updraft may begin to rotate. The rotating updraft of the thunderstorm is where the tornado forms and descends to the ground. The combination of veering and increasing winds with height produce a tilted and rotating updraft. This rotating thunderstorm, called a mesocyclone, is able to maintain its updraft and warm inflow region independent of the storms rain-cooled outflow.

So far, we have discussed how strong updrafts can produce hail and rotating updrafts can produce tornadoes, but what about downbursts or damaging straight-line winds from thunderstorms? A downburst is a powerful, concentrated downward burst of air, that occurs in the downdraft region of the thunderstorm. One theory for how downbursts originate is that a layer of drier air, between perhaps 10 -20,000 feet high, is drawn into and transported by the thunderstorm. As rain falls through this drier air, it evaporates, rapidly cooling the air. This cold ball of air, now denser than its surrounding environment, descends toward the ground. The momentum of the winds in this mid-level dry layer, the wind blowing into the storm, is now tilted downward and is accelerated by gravity. The burst of rain-cooled air smacks the ground and spreads outward. Wind speeds produced by downbursts can reach speeds of more than 100 mph and produce damage similar to a tornado. However, downburst damage paths are usually broader than tornado paths.

The term straight-line wind when referring to a thunderstorm wind is the rain-cooled air of the downdraft as it spreads out and away from the thunderstorm. The wind is moving in a straight-line as opposed to rotating like a tornado. Therefore, straight-line damaging winds from a thunderstorm is generally caused by a downburst. In aviation, the term wind shear is used. Wind shear is the change of wind speed and direction. A downburst is extremely dangerous to aircraft on takeoff and landings because of the strong wind shear. Wind speed and direction is in constant flux and the pilot can not compensate fast enough. A microburst refers to a small downburst (loss than 2 miles across). A downburst larger than that would be called a macroburst.

C. Some Basic Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Spotting Techniques

Your local National Weather Service Office provides severe weather spotter training under a program called SKYWARN. This training is provided free of charge by trainers who typically come from the staff of the National Weather Service, often from Disaster and Emergency Services and sometimes other volunteer meteorologists. This training is provided with the stipulation that when severe weather is encountered, people trained in Skywarn must report it to the National Weather Service. The Spotter training class includes 100 slides that help you learn how to pick out visual clues from clouds to help determine the severity of a storm. It is highly recommended that at the least one person from your school, preferably the "Severe Weather Coordinator" for your school emergency plan, take the training. The following information is not a substitute for official training.

Color: A very dark (black) thunderstorm or one taking an eerie look (brownish, green, or yellow cloud colors) may be an indication of a severe thunderstorm. The colors and darkness of the cloud are caused by the storm's massive size and the blockage of sunlight. This storm may bring hail, very heavy rain, and damaging winds.

Sound: The sound of a freight train is the roar of wind as it moves through trees and buildings. It may indicate an approaching tornado or a severe downburst. You should take protective action immediately.

Shelf Cloud/Roll Cloud: The rain-cooled air flowing out of a thunderstorm forms the gust front. Warm air ahead of the gust front rises up into the storm forming a wedged-shape cloud called a "shelf cloud" on the leading edge of the storm. The sharper or more defined that this cloud is, the stronger the winds are behind the gust front. As the cool wind continues to blow out ahead of the storm, the shelf cloud becomes detached from the storm forming a "roll cloud". This horizontal cloud is not a tornado. It marks the gust front. If you see a well-defined roll cloud rolling toward you, prepare for strong winds as it passes.

Mammatus Cloud (also known as Mamma): These clouds hang down from the anvil portion of the thunderstorm. They look like breasts (hence the Latin term) or like a cumulus cloud turned upside down. Mammatus clouds are often an indication that the storm is severe. Prepare for possible hail and damaging winds.

Rotating Storms: Sometimes it is possible to see the entire thunderstorm rotating. Generally, to see this you are located south of the storm or behind it and the storm is moving away from you. A rotating thunderstorm is likely to be severe and may produce a tornado. If the storm is moving toward you, prepare for severe winds and hail. Otherwise, report your sighting to the National Weather Service.

Rotating Wall Cloud: This is a lowering of clouds from the rain-free cloud base (updraft region) of the storm. It is circular in shape and can be seen slowly rotating. Sometimes a tail forms from the wall cloud toward the rain area of the storm (see side view diagram of a severe thunderstorm under part B). Air is moving in and rising up into this portion of the cloud. This is a sign of a tornadic thunderstorm. If a tornado is to form it will generally descend from the storm near or within the wall cloud. Take cover immediately it this is approaching you. Otherwise, contact the National Weather Service with your sighting.

Funnel / Tornado: A funnel is a small rotating funnel-shaped cloud. It does not touch the ground. If the funnel-shaped cloud is touching the ground, it is a tornado. Only about 50 percent of funnels turn into tornadoes. It is possible for the rotating column of damaging winds from a tornado to be on the ground with the visible funnel only extending half-way to the ground. Look for debris, leaves and dust rising into the air and listen for a sound as loud as a freight train.

Waterspouts: When a tornado moves over water, it is called a waterspout. Waterspouts can also occur in more benign situations and are not severe, but still may have winds of 35 to 50 mph.

Squall lines: Sometimes thunderstorms form a solid line of storms called a "squall line". The squall line thunderstorm can also become severe and is unlike the supercell thunderstorm discussed earlier (see diagram showing side and map views of a typical severe thunderstorm under section B). The supercell storm has its updraft on the right rear quadrant of the storm. With a squall line, the warm air feeding the storm is all out ahead of it, so the updraft on the front (approaching) portion of the storm dominates. When a squall line approaches, you will see the shelf cloud, which is the leading edge of the storm (see discussion on shelf clouds). Tornadoes rarely occur with squall lines and they tend to be less severe than those with supercell storms. Still, winds can reach 100 mph which is enough to damage roofs, break windows and drop trees. The tornado in this case will precede the rain. The tornado would be found in the updraft region of the storm behind the shelf cloud.

D. NWS Methods of Detecting and Tracking Severe Weather

The National Weather Service uses a combination of radar, satellite, lightning detection, and surface observations including volunteer spotter reports for detecting and tracking severe weather. The new Doppler radars (WSR-88D) which have been installed at Sterling, Virginia, , have greatly increased the National Weather Service's ability to pinpoint severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes and warn the public as to where the storm is moving and what actions to take. Spotter reports tell forecasters the size of hail, the depth of snow or flood waters or if wind damage is occurring or a tornado is sighted. These reports provide ground truth to the images seen on the Doppler radar.  Many commercial TV stations have Doppler weather radar -- you see one at Freeway Airport on U.S. Route 50 -- this one belongs to Washington D.C. channel 7.

1) Doppler Radar - The WSR-88D (Weather Surveillance Radar -- 1988 Doppler) is the new radar system for NWS and the Department of Defense (DoD). It is a more powerful radar designed specifically for the detection of weather phenomena. The computers that compile the radar data can produce as much as 100 different radar products every 5 minutes for forecaster to look at.

Typically radar has bean used to tell meteorologists where precipitation is occurring, how intense it is, and where it is moving. The ability of the new radars to detect radial velocity (movement of radar targets, such as rain, toward or away from the radar derived from the "Doppler Effect") allows meteorologists to see rotation of thunderstorm updrafts and sometimes the development of the tornado vortex. Supercells displaying strong radar signatures (storm rotation) can mean up to 20 minutes lead-time on warning for a tornado before it touches down. Computer and mapping skills with the new radar system also help meteorologists determine rainfall amounts and pinpoint areas with potential flash flood problems.

Like all technology, radars have their limitations. Radar beams can not see through mountains. This means that weather within the valleys on the other side will not be detected. Because of the curvature of the earth, as the radar beam moves away from its source, it gets higher and higher in the atmosphere and is no longer sampling the lower portion of the storm clouds. The NWS compensates by using trained severe weather spotters which help forecasters to fill in the gaps.

2) Satellites -- Geostationary satellites (stationary above a point over the equator) and polar orbiting satellites allow meteorologists to watch the development of clouds and weather systems. Satellites are extremely useful for tracking weather systems over the vast ocean areas where there is no radar and few surface observations. For example, satellites greatly improved meteorologists' ability to detect the formation and movement of hurricanes over the tropical waters. Satellites also help meteorologists to track movement of air masses that are either very dry (such as off the mountains) or very moist (such as northward from the Gulf of Mexico). This can greatly Influence a storm's development. Cloud patterns also tell forecasters about the strength and movement of the jet stream which plays a large role in storm development.

While satellites provide meteorologists with much information, they too have their limitations. A satellite is viewing a cloud from above, not telling one what has formed below it (such at a tornado). Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can develop and dissipate fairly rapidly. Even if a satellite picture Indicated a severe storm, the time delay for receiving the Satellite picture may be 15 to 30 minutes which can be too long to properly warn for an event such as this.

3) Lightning Detection -- New lightning detection systems map where cloud-to-ground lightning strikes are occurring. While this allows meteorologists to know that thunderstorms are indeed in progress and the frequency of lightning strikes, it tells little about the severity of the thunderstorm.

4) Surface Observations - Surface observations are the "ground truth" for tools such as radar and satellite. Because thunderstorms are very localized (the severe weather potion of the storm may only affect an area a mile wide), it would be impossible to have weather observers everywhere.

It is the combination of surface reports and remote sensing tools that bring the entire picture together for forecasters and increases their ability to issue effective, informative, and timely warnings. While the new technology has enhanced the meteorologist's ability to issue a timely warning, it will be of little use if the people who receive the warning do not know what safety actions to take.


1. WARNINGS -- The hazard (tornado, flash flood, etc) is imminent. The probability of occurrence is extremely high. Warnings are issued based on eyewitness reports or clear signatures from remote sensing devices such as radar and satellite. Lead-time for thunderstorm type events is generally 30 minutes or less. Lead-time for hurricanes, river floods, and winter storms can be 6 to 18 hours.

2. WATCHES -- Meteorologists have determined that conditions appear right for the development of the hazard. Probability of occurrence is greater than 60 percent in the watch area. Watches generally cover larger areas than warnings. In the case of thunderstorms, less that 30 percent of the watch area may experience the hazard. However, with larger storms such as hurricanes and winter storms, the entire watch area may be affected. Severe thunderstorms and tornado watches are usually issued 1 to 2 hours before the event begins. With flash floods, it can be 3 to 12 hours. For river flood and winter storm watches, lead- times are usually 12 to 36 hours.

3. ADVISORIES -- An advisory is issued for weather that is expected to be a disruption to the normal routine and an inconvenience, but is not expected to be life-threatening. Advisories are issued or 1 to 3 inches of snow, dense fog, minor street flooding, etc. The time frame is similar to that of a warning.

4. STATEMENTS -- Statements are issued to update current weather situations or highlight significant changes to come. Statements are also used to explain why watches, advisories, or warnings have been issued. Three special types of statements are as follows:

a) "Outlooks" or "Potential" Statements - During the warn season, the NWS Forecast Office issues "Thunderstorm Potential Statements" each morning discussing where and if storms will develop that afternoon and how intense they may be. When a winter storm may develop in the next 2 to 4 days, "Winter Storm Potential Statements" are issued. Outlooks may also be issued for possible heavy rain and flood events. The National Hurricane Center issues "Tropical Outlooks" for the potential for tropical storms and hurricane development. The National Severe Storms Forecast Center issues special statements when there is the potential for a severe thunderstorm or tornado outbreak.

b) "NOWCASTS" or "Area Weather Updates" - These statements discuss the short- range forecasts for the next 3 to 6 hours. During active weather, these statements may be issued hourly.

c) Public Information Statements - These statements provide information of special interest such as a summary of recent records set, weather safety information, special activities (weather related) that may be occurring, etc.

5. FORECASTS - general weather information provided daily.

a) 1 to 2-day forecasts are issued four times per day at 4 a.m., 11 a.m., 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., or updated as needed. Special weather events are highlighted with headlines at the top of the forecasts such as . . .

"Heat index is expected to reach 105 to 110 degrees today".

"Wind chill temperatures will drop to 30 below zero tonight".

"Flash flood watch is in effect until 8 AM EDT Wednesday".

b) 3 to 5-day extended forecasts are issued twice a day (5 a.m. and 5 p.m.) as part of the statewide forecast product.

c) 6 to 10-day outlooks are issued at 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

d) 30-day outlooks are issued around the 15th and 30th of each month.

e) 90-day outlooks are issued around the 30th of each month.

Note: The forecast outlooks (from day six on) are not detailed forecasts but a statement of trends. They state whether conditions are expected to be colder or warmer than normal and drier or wetter than normal on the average for that period of time.


1. Cumulus cloud - a cauliflower shaped cloud with a flat base and sharp edges. tufts are rising columns of air condensing. As the cloud and cloud droplets grow in size, the base will begin to gray.

2. Towering cumulus cloud - a cumulus cloud that continues to grow so that its height is taller than or equal to its width. It is first stage of growing into a thunderstorm. It may be producing a shower.

3. Thunderstorm (cumulonimbus) - the towering cumulus cloud has continued to grow in height and width and now lightning is occurring. The storm may extend 5 to 10 miles high into the atmosphere and 5 to 25 miles across. Heavy rains and gusty winds often accompany the storms.

4. Precipitation shaft - a visible column of rain or hail falling from the base of the cloud.

5. Hail - precipitation in the form of balls or clumps of ice.

6. Squall line - a solid line or band of active thunderstorms.

7. Anvil - the spreading out (by strong winds) of the upper portion of the thunderstorm. It usually has a fibrous or smooth appearance. With long lasting thunderstorms, the anvil may spread 100 miles downwind.

8. Mammatus (or mamma clouds) - these clouds appear to be hanging, rounded protuberances or pouches on the underside of the cloud. With thunderstorms, it is usually seen under the anvil and often accompany severe thunderstorms.

9. Gust front - the leading edge of the thunderstorm's downdraft of air as it spreads out away from the storm. It is usually felt as a change to gusty cool winds and often precedes the thunderstorm rain by several minutes.

10. Shelf cloud - a low-level, wedge-shaped cloud attached to the thunderstorm. It forms above the gust front as warm air ahead of the storm rides over the cool outflow from the thunderstorm.

11. Roll cloud - on rare occasions, a shelf cloud may turn into a roll cloud. The motions of the warn air riding up and over the cool air moving down and under creates a swirling of air or an eddy. The cloud takes on the shape of a horizontal tube that appears to be rolling. It is detached from the thunderstorm on its leading edge.

12. Rain-free base - the dark underside of a cloud (its base) that has no visible precipitation falling from it. This marks the updraft of a thunderstorm.

13. Wall cloud - this cloud appears as an abrupt lowering of the cloud base from the relatively flat rain-free base. It is attached to a thunderstorm and may be rotating. This is the portion of the thunderstorm from which the tornado often descends.

14. Funnel cloud - a funnel-shaped cloud extending from a towering cumulus or thunderstorm. It is associated with a rotating column of air that has condensed to form a cloud.

15. Tornado - a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground and extending to the thunderstorm base often seen extending from near the wall cloud. It can be a few yards across to a mile wide.

16. Flanking line - a line of cumulus clouds connected to and extending outward from the most active portion of a parent cumulonimbus, usually found on the southwest (right, rear) side of a storm. The cloud line has roughly a stair step appearance with the taller clouds adjacent to the parent cumulonimbus. It is most frequently associated with strong or severe thunderstorms.

17. Hook echo - a radar pattern sometimes observed in the southwest (right, rear) quadrant of a tornadic thunderstorm. The rain echo forms the hook pattern as air rotates around the strong updraft. The updraft is the hollow portion of the hook (looks like a backwards "J" or a 6) and is where the tornado would most likely be found (if the storm were to produce one).

18. Scud clouds - low cloud fragments often seen in association with and behind thunderstorm gust fronts. These clouds are ragged and wind torn and are not usually attached to the thunderstorm.

19. Updraft - warm, moist, rising air. As the air rises, it condenses into a visible cumulus or cumulonimbus cloud. The updraft fuels the storm. In an ordinary thunderstorm, air rises at 40 mph and in a severe thunderstorm speedy may reach over 100 mph.

20. Downdraft - a column of cool air that sinks toward the ground. It is most often accompanied by rain.

21. Downburst - a sudden rush of cool air toward ground that can impact with speeds over 70 mph and produce damage similar to that of a tornado., It usually occurs near the leading edge of the storm or may occur in heavy rain.

22. Microburst - a small downburst effecting an area less than 2.5 Km in diameter.

23. Macroburst - a larger downburst effecting an area greater than 2.5 Km in diameter.

24. Severe Thunderstorm - a thunderstorm producing damaging winds or winds greater than 58 mph and/or hail three-quarters of an inch or greater.


1. Tropical Disturbance - a moving area of thunderstorms in the Tropics that maintains its identity for 24 hours or more.

2. Tropical Depression - a cluster of thunderstorms in the Tropics that maintains its identity and shows rotary circulation at the surface with constant wind speeds of 38 mph or less.

3. Tropical Storm - evolves from a tropical depression or may be a hurricane in its dissipating stage. Rotary circulation is distinct and constant wind speeds range from 39 to 73 mph.

4. Hurricane - evolves from a tropical storm. Rotary circulation has become pronounced and an eye is detectable. Constant wind speeds are 74 mph or greater.

5. Eye - the center of the hurricane where winds are light and skies are clear to partly cloudy. The eye is rimmed by massive thunderstorms producing torrential rains and extreme winds.

6. Eye Wall - a wall of thunderstorms around the eye.

7. Spiral Bands - bands of thunderstorms that appear to spiral in toward the hurricane's center.

8. Storm Surge - a dome of water often 50 miles wide that comes sweeping across the coastline near the area where the eye of the hurricane makes landfall.


1. Flash Flood - a flood that occurs suddenly during or shortly following heavy rains or from a sudden release of water as in a dam break. Small streams and creeks usually react the fastest to heavy rains and rise several feet in hours or even minutes.

2. River (Riverine) Flood - a flood on large river such as the Ohio, Kentucky or Cumberland takes a tremendous amount of rain and usually develops over a period of one to two days. Rain water first runs into the small branches and creeks, and then flows into the larger forks or tributaries. Eventually it reaches the main stream of the river. For a flood to reach its crest from heavy rains may take a day or longer to reach Central Kentucky or the Ohio River.

3. Coastal Flood - high tides, persistent on-shore winds or a hurricane storm surge can cause flooding along coastal areas.

4. Urban Flood - pavement which causes rapid runoff (rain can't soak into the ground so it runs downhill) and poor drainage can lead to flooded roadways and underpasses and even become deadly.

5. Bankfull - the maximum height of the river before it overflows its banks.

6. Flood Stage - the height of the river at which property damage begins to occur. Differs from bankfull. The river may overflow its banks into flood plain without reaching flood stage.

7. Flood Crest - the highest height that the river reaches during a flood event.


1. Snow - a prediction of snow indicates a steady fall of snow for several hours or more. It my be modified by terms such as "light", "intermittent", or "occasional" to indicate lesser intensity or periodic snow.

2. Snow Flurries - light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation to a light dusting (or trace) is expected.

3. Snow Showers - snow falling at varying intensities for brief time periods. Some accumulation is possible.

4. Snow Squalls - brief, intense snow showers, accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulations may be significant.

5. Drifting Snow - winds are strong enough to blow falling snow or loose snow on the ground into mounds causing uneven snow depths. The wind carries the snow near the ground causing no restriction to visibility.

6. Blowing Snow - wind-driven snow that causes reduced visibility and sometimes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling or snow that was once loose on the ground and picket up by the wind.

7. Heavy Snow - snow accumulating to at least four inches in 12 hours or six inches in 24 hours. These values may be a couple of inches higher for mountainous regions. New England, or near the Great lakes where higher snowfall is more common.

8. Blizzard - strong winds (greater than 35 mph) and heavy snow or blowing snow combine to produce very poor visibility.

9. Sleet - ice pellets or granules of frozen rain. Occurs when rain falls into a layer of air with temperatures below freezing. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick, but can accumulate on roadways causing a hazard to motorists.

10. Freezing Rain - rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing causing it to freeze to the surface forming a coating of ice or glaze.

11. Freezing Drizzle - drizzle that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing causing it to freeze to the surface forming a thin coating of ice or rime. Drizzle is a very light precipitation with little accumulation, but even a small amount of ice can sometimes cause a problem.

12. Ice Storm - significant and possibly damaging accumulations of ice are expected during freezing rain situations. Significant ice accumulations are usually accumulations of .25 inches or greater, but may vary from region to region across the country.

13. Wind Chill (wind chill factor) - combines the rate of heat loss caused by wind and lowering temperature. As the wind rises, heat is carried away from a person's body at a more accelerated rate driving down the body temperature.

14. Freeze - used when temperatures at or near the surface (ground) are expected to be 32 F degrees or below. Sometimes used with adjectives "killing", "severe" or "hard". A freeze may or may not be accompanied by frost.

15. Frost - the formation of ice crystals in the forms of scales, needles, feathers, or fans, which develop under conditions similar to dew, except that the minimum temperature has dropped to at least 32 F degrees.

16. Hypothermia - when the body temperature drops below 95 F.

17. Frost Bite - frozen body tissue.



The greatest danger is from flying debris (airborne missiles) and the collapse of a building roof and/or wall structure. The following actions are designed for protection from these dangers. Take action if a tornado approaches or a tornado warning is issued.

In a building (home, school, etc.) move to the basement. If no basement, move to a small, interior room or hallway on the lowest level. Stay away from windows and exterior doors. If at all possible, get under something (such as a table) and place something over your head (such as a pillow, mattress, blanket, or coat) for added protection.

DO NOT STAY IN A MOBILE HOME OR ANY TYPE OF TEMPORARY SHELTER. If in a mobile home or a temporary shelter, get out. Move away from the shelter so that the debris does not fall on you. Look for a low area preferably a ditch or ravine if nearby. Take the protective position on your elbows and knees with your hands over your head.

DO NOT TRY TO OUTRUN A TORNADO IN A CAR, BUS OR TRUCK. If in a car, truck or bus, STOP. Get out. Move away from the vehicle so it does not topple on you. Find a low area preferably a ditch or ravine if nearby. Take the protective position on your elbows and knees with your hands over your head.

If on foot with no well constructed shelter nearby, find a low area preferably a ditch or ravine if nearby. Take the protective position on your elbows and knees with your hands over your head.

After the storm, if a tornado has struck your neighborhood, turn off gas at the main switch to your building. If live electrical wires are down, turn off power at the main switch. Instruct people not to touch loose electrical wires or broken utility lines. do not couch electrical equipment in wet areas until it has been dried and tested. Food, clothing, shelter, and first aid will be available at Red Cross shelters.


The greatest danger comes from the high velocities with which large hail can impact a surface (speeds greater than 100 mph). To avoid getting hit with hail, one needs only move inside. However, there are other considerations such as staying away from skylights. Hailstones can go through a vehicle's windshield. Hailstones driven by a storm's high winds may shatter a building's side windows.

A last consideration is that large hail is a sign that this is a powerful and potentially dangerous storm. Hail falls from the same area of a thunderstorm where the tornado is found. Large hail does not always imply a tornado, but if a tornado is associated with that storm and you are currently experiencing hail, then you may be very close to a tornado.


All thunderstorms produce lightening, be definition. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storms to be struck. Take protective actions. Move inside. It need not be raining! Lightning can strike 10 to 15 miles away from the rain portion of the storm! These lightning strokes come out of the upper portions of the thunderstorm cloud which extends 50 to 10 miles into the atmosphere.

In general, lightning will travel to the easiest route from the cloud to ground which means that it often strikes the highest object. therefore, a simple rule is do not make yourself the tallest object or stand near the tallest object in your immediate surrounding. For instance, do not stand in an open field, on a beach, or on a hill top. Do not stand under an isolated or large tree or near a pole. Do not stay out on a boat.

When lightning strikes, the current will travel through the object, along the ground, along wire, metal, and water. Most lightning injuries occur in this manner. The electrical current will travel the easiest route. Stay away from metal objects such as fences, poles, equipment, pipes, etc. Get rid of metal objects on your body such as coins, money clips, hair pins, jewelry, etc. Stay away from water. Inside, stay away from electrical appliances, televisions, and telephones. Only use the phone in an emergency.

If caught outside and a thunderstorm approaches:

1. Move into a building. Stay away from doors and windows.

2. If a building is not available, get inside a car (hardtop not a convertible) and keep windows rolled up.

3. If there are no cars or buildings,

a) in a forest, look for a low area under thick growth of small trees

b) in an open area, go to a low place preferable a ravine or valley

4. If in a group of people, spread out, keeping several yards apart from each other.

5. If you feel your hair stand on end, you are in immediate danger of being struck Unless you can instantly jump inside a shelter, drop to a crouching position bending forward and keeping your feet close together with your hands on your knees. The object is to be as low to the ground as possible and yet have as little of your body surface touching the ground as possible.

First Aid:

If a person is struck by lightning, check to see if the person is breathing. If not, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If no pulse is present, begin CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Lightning often has a paralyzing effect that is temporary. Even though a person appears dead, they may be resuscitated. victims may experience temporary paralysis of legs, be stunned and disoriented, or have burns on their body. Give first aid and stay with the victim until help arrives.

After the storm, instruct people not to touch loose electrical wires or broken utility lines. do not touch electrical equipment in wet areas until it has been dried and tested.


Flash floods are the most dangerous. A flash flood is a rapid rise of flood waters allowing little time for action. Flash floods can move at tremendous speeds tearing out trees and moving boulders. The debris moves with the flood wave and sometimes destroys buildings and bridges in its path. Debris may cause a temporary dam and when broken a wall of water moves downstream. Walls of water (such as one that ripped through the Barr Creek area of Bell County in 1992) can reach 10 to 20 feet. Floods and flash floods are the number one weather-related killer in the United States.

When a flood warning is issued or the moment you first realize that a flash flood is coming, act quickly to save yourself. You may only have seconds.

Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes, areas along streams and creeks. This also includes urban areas where storm drains become clogged with debris and rain, unable to be soaked up by the paved ground, rapidly builds the flow of runoff. Some underpasses can be extremely dangerous, rapidly filling with water.

DO NOT ENTER FLOOD WATERS, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CROSS FLOWING WATER IN A CAR OR TRUCK. Almost half of all flood deaths occur in automobiles. Water depths can be very deceptive; the road beneath may even be undermined. The force of flowing water on a vehicle is very powerful and a foot of water may be all it takes to drag a car into deeper waters or flip it over. Many cars stall once entering the water. Electrical systems in the car may fail causing electrical window and doors to not operate trapping the victim inside as the water continues to rise.

If the vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and sweep it away.

After the storm, if a flood has struck your neighborhood, turn off gas at the main switch to your building. If live electrical wires are down, turn off power at the main switch. Instruct people not to touch loose electrical wires or broken utility lines. Do not touch electrical equipment in wet areas until it has been dried and tested. Do not touch fresh food that has come in contact with flood waters. Boil drinking water before using until water has been tested for purity. food, clothing, shelter, and first aid will be available at Red Cross Shelters.


Hurricanes are essentially large complexes of thunderstorms. Therefore, they include all of the dangers that can come with thunderstorms; lightning, flash floods, downbursts, tornadoes. For coastal areas, the added threat is flooding from high tides and the storm surge. The storm surge is a dome of water (perhaps only 2 feet high or maybe 15 to 20 feet high and often 50 miles across) that comes sweeping across the coastline just to the right (north) of the area where the eye of the hurricane makes landfall.

Preparations for a hurricane should begin well in advance of the storm. Contact your local emergency Management or National Weather Service for more information of Hurricane Preparedness. Listen to local authorities and evacuate when requested. Know your evacuation routes before the hurricane comes.

Hurricanes can produce widespread damage with trees and flood waters blocking roads, cutting off communications and electricity for days. Have at least a 3 day supply of food (non- perishable) and water (fill bathtub and other containers). Have plenty of batteries fro use in flashlights and portable radios or televisions. Have a first-aid kit and extra baby supplies or prescription medicines, if needed.

If caught in the storm, follow safety rules described above for tornadoes/severe (damaging) winds, lightning, and flooding. Stay away from dangling or downed electrical wires and turn off gas (there could be a leak).


The most severe winter storm is generally considered to be a blizzard (strong winds and blinding snow), but any heavy snow storms or ice storms can become life threatening. Most winter storm related deaths (about 60%) occur in automobiles. some occur from exposure to cold (see extreme cold section), heart attacks from overexertion, fires from improper use of heaters, and other typed of accidents.

Be prepared for the storm before it strikes. Listed to NOAA Weather Radio. If a Winter Storm Warning is issued, stay at home or, if need be, at work or school. do not venture out into the storm. Winter storms (ice and snow) can close roads and knock out phones and electrical power for hours or a couple of days in a bad storm. Have extra batteries, flashlights and battery-powered, portable radio on hand. Have plenty of food (non-perishable, ready to eat) and water. Have a first-aid kit and extra medicines. Winterize your vehicles at the start of the season and keep your gas tank near full so ice doesn't form in the fuel lines. Have extra supplies in the vehicle in case you become stranded.

If caught in the storm, try to stay dry and warm. If in a car, bus or truck, stay there, unless shelter can be seen just yards away. disorientation in cold and snow occurs rapidly. Run the motor sparingly for heat. Open windows slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. If trapped at home, school or work and without heat, close off unneeded rooms. Stuff towels, rags or extra clothes in cracks under doors. Cover windows at night. If using an alternate heat source, such as a fireplace, woodstove, space heater, etc., follow directions, use fire safeguards, and ventilate properly.

If caught outside without shelter, make one. Dig a snow cave. Find an area protected from wind. Build a lean-to or wind break out of sticks and branches. Build a fire and place stones around the fire to absorb and reflect back heat. Do not eat snow for water. It will drop your body temperature. You must melt it first. Exercise periodically, by rapidly moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm. If there is more than one person, sleep in shifts and help keep each other warm.


The people most often effected by cold are elderly and babies. However, if proper precautions are not taken, anyone can suffer hypothermia or frostbite. Wind chill combines the threat of heat loss (from exposed skin) caused by wind and cold temperatures. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from a person's body at an accelerated rate driving down the body temperature. A 20 degree F temperature combined with a 20 mph wind produces a wind chill of -10 degrees F.

Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops. Warning signs are uncontrollable shivering; loss of memory; disorientation; incoherence; vague, slow, slurred speech; frequent stumbling; drowsiness; apparent exhaustion or inability to get up from rest. If a person's body temperature drops below 95 F degrees, seek medical help immediately. If unable to get medical help, wrap the person in a warm blanket covering the head and neck. Do not give the person alcohol, drugs, hot liquid or hot food (warm is better). The person needs to be warmed slowly. do not warm extremities (arms, legs, hands, etc.) first! This drives the cold blood toward the heart and can lead to heart failure. Warm the body core first. If needed, use your own body heat to help.

Frostbite is when the body tissue freezes, damaging the tissue. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately. If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas.

To prevent hypothermia and frostbite, stay inside during extreme cold spells or heavy snow storms. If you must go out, dress appropriately. Wear loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped cold air insulates. Avoid overexertion. The strain from the cold and hard labor (such as shoveling wet snow, walking through drifts, etc) may lead to a heart attack. Sweating can lead to a chill and hypothermia. By wearing layers of clothes, if perspiration occurs layers can be removed and then added back when needed. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded. Wear a hat. Half of your body heat loss can be from your head. cover your mouth (using a scarf, etc.) to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves for protecting the hands. Try to stay dry.


The human body dissipates heat by varying the rate and depth of blood circulation, by losing water through the skin and sweat glands, and (as the last extremity is reached) by panting when blood is heated above 98.6 degrees. The skin handles about 90 percent of the body's heat dissipating function. However, sweating does not cool the body unless the water is evaporated. Evaporation is a cooling process.

On hot days (temperature above 90 degrees F) when the relative humidity is high, evaporation is retarded. The body attempts to do everything it can to maintain 98.;6 degrees F inside. the heart is pumping a torrent of blood though dilated circulatory vessels; the sweat glands are pouring liquid, including essential dissolved chemicals like sodium and chlorine, onto the surface of the skin.

Heat disorders generally have to do with a reduction or collapse of the body's ability to shed heat by circulatory changes and sweating, or a chemical (salt) imbalance caused by too much sweating. When heat gain exceeds the level the body can remove, or when the body cannot compensate for fluids and salt lost through perspiration, the temperature of the body's inner core begins to rise and heat-related illness may develop.

Other factors: cities can add to the hazard. Stagnant air conditions trap pollutants in urban areas and add the stresses of severe pollution to the already dangerous stresses of hot weather. Sunburn can significantly retard the skins ability to shed excess heat. People on certain medication or drugs (such as tranquilizers and anticholinergic) and people overweight or with an alcohol problem are particularly susceptible.

What should one do to prevent heat disorders:

1. Slow down. Reduce, reschedule, or eliminate strenuous activity

2. Dress for the summer. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing

3. Drink plenty of water

4. Do not get too much sun.

Heat index combines the effects of high temperature and relative humidity. Using the current temperature and relative humidity, calculate the heat index using the chart provided. Exposure to full sun can increase these values by up to 15 degrees. When the NWS is expecting the heat index to exceed 105 degrees, this will be headlined in the forecast. At heat indices above 105 degrees, possible heat disorders include heat cramps or heat exhaustion. Heatstroke is possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.

First Aid:

1) Heat cramps are painful spasms usually in muscles of legs and abdomen. Use firm pressure on cramping muscles, or gently massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water unless nausea occurs.

2) Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale clammy skin; and/or thready pulse. Fainting or vomiting may occur. Get the victim out of the sun. Lay them down and loosen clothing. Apply cool wet cloths. give sips of water unless nausea occurs. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.

3) Heatstroke (sunstroke) is when the body temperature reaches 106 degrees. Symptoms are hot dry skin and a rapid and strong pulse. Person may become unconscious. Heatstroke is a severe medical emergency; summon medical help immediately or take to a hospital. While awaiting medical help, move the victim to a cooler environment. Reduce the body temperature with a cold bath or sponging. Use fans or air conditioners. Do not give liquids.


Use the following checklist for the evaluation or design of a severe weather safety plan for your school. The plan should be designed so that teachers and students anywhere on the school grounds can be quickly alerted to follow a preset plan of action to maximize safety.

1. Who is responsible for activating the plan? Is there a backup?

2. What is/are the primary means of receiving severe weather information? NOAA Weather Radio with a tone alert feature is recommended (found in electronic stores, costing about $40).

3. What method do you employ to alert teachers and students? Is there a backup that does not require electricity? (Electricity may be lost as the storm approaches).

4. Make provisions for the following problem areas:

a) Students that are in mobile classrooms that may be far from the main building and that may be disconnected from an intercom system.

b) Students that may be in the cafeteria or gymnasium during the storm.

c) Learning-disabled students, or any other students who may be a position to not hear the warning or alert or be able to respond on their own accord. Assign a teacher to each student who needs special attention (such as a student in a wheelchair or one who is hearing-impaired) who will ensure that the student arrives at a place of safety.

d) Students who are outside, including after-school activities. Remember, if you are close enough to hear thunder, then you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Also, students who are outside are at risk from the dangers of large hail and severe thunderstorm winds.

5. Five main problems for schools in a tornado:

a) Forces caused by winds and the airflow around the building.

b) Forces caused by other objects (debris) impacting school walls.

c) Pressure differences caused by a tornado (secondary to first two).

d) Gas leaks and electrical hazards after the storm. Have someone knowledgeable in turning off gas and electricity at the school during school hours.

e) "Wind Tunnel Effect" -- When blown by tornado-strength winds, debris (such as fragments of glass, wood, and metal) can cause serious injury when accelerated by relatively narrow hallways in schools.

6. Other thunderstorm hazards: Are you prepared?

a) Lightning may pose a threat well before strong winds/rain affect the area. Athletic teams out on open field need to be especially cautious.

b) Large hail - the largest hail usually occurs near the most dangerous area of the storm for the development of tornadoes. Large hail can break windows.

c) Heavy rains/flooding - Are there flood-prone areas near the school?

d) Damaging "straight-line" winds - A thunderstorm does not have to produce a tornado to pose a threat to schools and students.

7. Safest places to be in a school: (assuming no underground shelter)

a) Interior hallway on the lowest level.

b) Away from windows.

c) If possible, get in a hallway that is at a right angle to the approaching tornado's path (to avoid wind tunnel effect).

d) In a small room such as a bathroom surrounded by load-bearing walls.

e) In a room without small objects that can serve as projectiles (such as tableware).

8. Some other aspects of designing a plan:

a) Practice your plan. Have drills semi-annually (Fall and Spring).

b) Include Severe Weather Safety Instruction as part of the drill period.

c) Encourage teachers and administrators to develop a plan for their families at home. The knowledge that their families know what to do at home will enable then to focus their attention on the students. The American Red Cross has brochures on developing a "Family Protection Plan".

d) Educate school administrators about the structure of severe thunderstorms and the basic sequence of events as a storm approaches. Also explain the concept of wall clouds, rotating wall clouds, and the preferred locations for these features within the storm. (It is recommended they attend the NWS SKYWARN severe weather spotted training class - no fee). Emphasize the variability that may exist with each storm and the need to understand basic storm structure to assist in determining the degree of threat at a school.

e) For optimum planning purposes, an engineer and a member of the local school board should participate in the design of an emergency plan.

f) Administrators should feel comfortable in contacting the county director of Disaster and Emergency Services, or the nearest National Weather Service office, for assistance in answering ANY questions that may arise in developing a plan. If the school office doesn't know the DES director, consult the county government listing in the telephone directory to get the number for contacting the DES office. If the phone listing isn't clear, call the office of the county judge/executive for names and telephone numbers. The county DES director works for the judge/executive in all but a few counties.


Some classroom references for weather:

Elementary School

Storms, Seymour Simon, 1989. Millions of storms occur every year, learn some interesting facts about them. 'The text is clear and the photographs are large and colorful. 29 pages.

Sunshine Makes the Seasons, Franklin M. Brandley, 1986. Part of the series "Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science' The sun keeps us warm, but it also changes the length of our days and causes the seasons we experience. Find out how. 32 pages.

The Super Science Book of Weather, Kay Davies and Wendy Oldfield, 1993. Learn about weather's local and global influence through the use of large color drawings and simple hands-on projects. 32 pages.

Tornado Alert, Franklin M. Branley, 1988. Part of the series "Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science" Would you like to know how tornadoes form, what they look like, and what to do if you encounter one? This is the book. 32 pages.

Weather, Howard E. Smith, 1990. Here you can learn about hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, the basic science behind them all, and also what to do when threatened by bad weather. Contains large colorful illustrations. 45 pages.

Weather -- A First Discovery Book, Gallimard Jeunesse and Pascale de Bour-going, 1991. This book lets children see how weather can affect their daily lives. It includes simple definitions of meteorological phenomena like fog and rainbows and is full of colorful pictures. 23 pages.

Weather and Climate, Barbara Taylor, 1993. Part of the series "Young Discoverers" Colorful illustrations and easy experiments are used to teach children about the clouds, seasons, and other weather. 31 pages.

Weather Experiments, Vera Webster, 1982. Part of the series, "A New True Book" Air pressure, wind, and snow, learn how they form and what causes them by doing simple experiments with household materials. 45 pages.

Weather Forecasting. Gail Gibbons, 1993. A close-up look at the weather service is presented here. Read about how the weather is forecast and how that information is distributed. Very interesting. 28 pages.

What Makes it Rain? 'The Story of a Raindrop, Keith Brand, 1982. Through the use of many colorful illustrations, this book explains how a raindrop forms and how it fits into the water cycle. 32 pages.

What Makes it Rain?, Susan Mayes, 1989. Part of the series "Usborne Starting Point Science" If you want to know how min forms and how it affects the world then the many facts and lessons found here will help. 24 pages

What Makes the Wind?, Laurence Santrey, 1982. The wind affects animals, people, and nature. It is also sometimes experienced as a breeze and other times as a hurricane. Discover why. 32 pages.

What Will the Weather Be?, Lynda DeWitt, 1993. Part of the series 'Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science' How do meteorologists predict the weather? Read about weather maps, satellites, balloons, other tools that help produce forecasts. 32 pages.

Middle School:

The Amateur Meteorologist -- Explorations and Investigations, H. Michael Mogil and Barbara G. Levine, 1994. Part of the series "Amateur Science" Contains lessons on forecasting along with instructions on how to make different types of weather instruments. 128 pages.

The Atmosphere -- Five Billion Million Tons of Air, Jean-Pierre Maury, 1989. Part of the series "Barron's Focus on Science" Learn about how the atmosphere interacts with the oceans, what it is chemical composition is, how it affects nature, and much more. 77 pages.

Clouds and Weather, John A. Day and Vincent J. Schaefer, 1991. Part of the series "Peterson First Guides" 'This is a 'simplified field guide to the atmosphere' which contains many colorful pictures. The explanations, definitions, and illustrations are designed for beginner observers. 128 pages.

Disaster! Blizzards and Winter Weather, Dennis Brindell Fradin, 1983. Part of the series "Disaster!" An in depth description of the early 1980s winters and their severity. There is also a historical section on avalanches and record snow falls. 63 pages.

How Did We Find Out About the Atmosphere, Isaac Asimov, 1985. A discussion of all the major discoveries that have led to our present understanding of the earth's atmosphere. 64 pages.

Hurricanes and Typhoons. Jacqueline Dineen, 1991. Part of the series "Natural Disasters" Read about how hurricanes work, the steps that lead to landfall, and how they effect the environment and mankind. 32 pages.

Janice VanCleave's Earth Science for Every Kid, Janice VanCleave, 1991. Over 100 experiments demonstrating different basic principles. Each experiment lists the purpose, materials, procedure, results, and explains why. 231 pages.

Lightning and Other Wonders of the Sky. Q.L. Pearce, 1989. Part of the series "Amazing Science" Do you know that lightning comes in many forms, halos are an optical phenomena caused by the sun, or what acid min can do? Find the answers in this book. 64 pages.

Looking at Weather, David Suzuki, 1991. Would you like to know where clouds, min, snow, and lightning come from, and how the weather affects our lives? Find this out and more through simple weather experiments. 96 pages. Simple Weather Experiments with Everyday Materials, Muriel Mandell, 1990. Many exciting experiments are contained here which can be accomplished using household materials and which teach meteorological principles. 128 pages.

Two Suns and a Green Sky, 'Thomas Richard Baker, 1994. Discover what the weather would be like in an imaginary world through the use of 22 different experiments. 138 pages.

The Usborne Book of Weather Facts. Anita Ganeri, 1992. Contains many records, lists, facts, and comparisons which are weather related. This is a good book if you are interested in weather trivia. 48 pages.

Weather, Martyn Bramwell, 1987. Part of the series "Earth Science Library" Using two page lessons, learn about all aspects of the weather from instrumentation to specific types of weather. Contains helpful graphics. 32 pages.

Weather, Brian Cosgrove, 1991. Part of the series "Eyewitness Books" Discover the world's weather such as fronts, lows, wind, snow, and much more. This is a nice collection of pictures and facts. 63 pages.

Weather, John Farndon, 1992. Part of the series "Eyewitness Explorers" Learn how to watch and understand the weather in this pocketsize book full of stories, lessons, projects, and illustrations. 61 pages.

Weather, Pierre Kohler, 1988. Part of the series "Ban-on's Focus on Science" The history of weather forecasting, basic meteorology principles, instrumentation, and how the man deals with weather are all topics discussed here. 78 pages.

Weather, Peter Lafferty, 1992. Part of the series "Science Facts" Considered "an exploration of the forces that drive the world's weather?'. After a general introduction, different weather themes are discussed. Uses very colorful graphics. 108 pages.

Weather, David Lambert, 1990. Part of the series "Our Planet" How does the climate effect us? How do you forecast the weather? What causes the wind to blow? Find answers to these and other questions. 31 pages.

Weather & Climate, Fiona Watt and Francis Wilson, 1992. Part of the series "Usborne Science & Experiments" A comprehensive introduction to many aspects of the weather and climate. 'This is full of facts, experiments, illustrations. 48 pages.

Weather Forecasting -- A Young Meteorologist's Guide, Dan Ramsey, 1990. 'This is a very complete book for those interested in studying the weather. Read about instrumentation, proverbs, basic principles, and forecasting.. 146 pages.

The Weather Sky. Bruce McMillan, 1994. Each page descibes a different type of cloud and tells what conditions they form under and what type of weather is associated with them. 40 pages.

Weatherwatch, Valerie Wyatt, 1993. Many weather facts and experiments that teach about the formation of a rainbow, how to make a barometer, and much more. 95 pages.

39 Easy Meteorology Experiments, Robert W. Wood, 1991. Part of the series 'Science For Kids" Detailed experiments with figures included that help explain the science behind different meteorological principles. 134 pages.

High School:

All About Lightning, Martin A. Uman, 1986. The answers to questions about lightning are found here in a clear, easy-to-follow manner along with some figures and charts. 167 pages.

Atmosphere- Clouds, Rain, Snow, Storms. Vincent J. Schaefer and John A. Day, 1987. Part of the Series "Peterson Field Guides" This is a complete guide to learning about weather. It contains information on cloud types and how they form, simple experiments, and 358 photographs. 359 pages.

The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Weather, David M. Ludlum, 1991. In depth explanations of the weather and cloud descriptions with 378 pages of color photographs. This is the perfect book for learning how to identify cloud formations. 655 pages.

Earthshock, Andrew Robinson 1993. All the forces of nature, including floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes, are described here along with historical accounts. Contains many color photographs. 304 pages.

Exploring the Sky by Day, Terence Dickinson, 1988. This is the "equinox guide to weather and the atmosphere". Each chapter begins by asking a few questions and then proceeds to answer them in detail. 72 pages.

How Weather Works, Rob De Millo, 1994. Discover all aspects of the weather from global warming to unusual natural phenomena through the use of nontechnical language and color illustrations. 231 pages.

Nature on the Rampage, H.J. De Blij, 1994. Explore weather's untamed forces, such as blizzards, hurricanes, drought, and more. Contains historical and present day accounts and photos of extraordinary weather situations. 224 pages.

Skywatch -- The Western Weather Guide, Richard A. Keen, 1987. Full of valuable information, this book shows how the weather of the west really works. It also contains many illustrations and photographs. 158 pages.

Skywatch East -- A Weather Guide, Richard A. Keen, 1992. Liberally illustrated with photographs, this book teaches about the weather in specific areas of the U.S. in an easy-to-understand format. 204 pages.

The USA Today Weather Almanac 1995. Jack Williams, 1994. If you need an almanac, this is the one to get. It includes hundreds of charts, a close-up look at 200 U.S. cities, natural disasters of the 1990's, weather records, and more. 390 pages.

Weather -- Understanding the Forces of Nature. Louise Quayle, 1990. A nice combination of history, folklore, facts, and lessons. Not only do you learn the basics of meteorology, but also about the modern views of forecasting. 128 pages.

Weather and Forecasting, Storm Dunlop and Francis Wilson, 1987. Part of the series "MacMillian Field Guides" A handy guide to help understand the weather and learn about cloud formations. Many color photographs are included. 160 pages.

The Weather Book, Jack Williams, 1992. This is an easy-to-understand guide to the weather produced by USA Today. 117 full color graphics help explain why the wind blows, what makes rain, an much more. 212 pages.

The Weather Companion, Gary Lockhart, 1988. A historical look at the weather which includes interesting legends, folklore, and the science behind it all. 230 pages.

The Weather Handbook, Alan Watts, 1994. An exploration in straight forward terms of how to interpret the clouds and the sky in order to forecast the weather. 187 pages.

Weather Proverbs, George D. Freier, 1992. Over 600 proverbs, poems, and sayings which may help in predicting the weather. Scientific explanations are also included for many of the proverbs. 214 pages.


Partly Sunny, Alan Fields, 1995. Considered "the weather junkie's guide to outsmarting the weather'. Find out about the best weather gadgets, the people of The Weather Channel, and more. 197 pages.

The Weather Sourcebook. Ronald L. Wagner and Bill Adler, Jr., 1994. Find out where to find meteorological equipment, software, videotapes, posters and more. Plus there are reviews of some of the listed products. 210 pages.


Earth (bimonthly publication) A feature article pertaining to some aspect of the weather, such as the greenhouse effect, is usually found here. Thexe is also a section entitled "News' which occasionally includes brief weather related stories.


P.O. Box 1612

Waukesha, WI 53187

Weatherwise (bimonthly publication) A great magazine for teachers and students since it is written in a non-technical fornl It not only contains interesting articles, but also features different simple experiments, computer programs, and great photographs and illustrations.

Heldref Publications

1319 Eighteenth Street NW

Washington, DC 20077-6117


Climate Predication Center -- various climate products are provided here including long-range predictions, stratospheric data, and colorful figures

National Hurricane Center -- contains products related to tropical cyclones, included are past hurricane tracks, a map of the Caribbean, and a listing of current advisories

National Severe Storms Laboratory -- different scientific papers can be found here along with some great storm photographs taken by different lab employees

National Weather Service -- here you can find satellite images, learn about the NWS modernization programs and check out U.S. weather as well as world weather

Purdue Weather Processor -- this is a weather visualization tool for meteorological data, it includes current weather maps with synoptic features, forecast model data, satellite images, plus more

University of Wisconsin -- suggested for older students, this page presents output of model forecasts in colorful 3 dimensional images

The Weather Unit -- contains many lessons in math, science, art, and others, all related to meteorology and aimed at young children


American Weather Enterprises

P.O. Box 1383 Contains mostly weather instrumentation but also

Media, PA 19063 has a section on educational materials



Cloud Chart, Inc.

P.O. Box 21298 Get your supply of colorful cloud

Charleston, SC 29413 charts from here



Edmund Scientific

101 E. Gloucester Pike Interesting gadgets can be purchased from

Barrington, NJ 08007 here, along with some books and instrumentation



Weatherama Weather Instruments

7395 162nd Street West A general instrument catalog aimed at those

Rosemount, MN 55068 looking for quality



Wind & Weather

P.O. Box 2320 Find weathervanes, instruments,

Mendocino, CA 95460 707/937-0323 books, charts and other interesting materials





National Weather Service Training Center

617 Hardesty Avenue

Kansas City, HO 64124


American Meteorological Society

1701 K St. NW, Suite 300

Washington, DC 20006-1509


Federal Aviation Administration

U.S. Deparbnent of Transportation

Washington, DC 20591


National Center for Atmospheric Research

c/o Karon Kelly or Rene Munoz P.O. Box 3000

Boulder, CO 80307-3000


Project Abnosphere, Dr. Ira W. Geer, Co-Director

American Meteorological Society

1701 K St. NW, Suite 300

Washington, DC 20006-1509


Bureau of Science Education

New York State Education Department

Albany, NY 12234


NOAA Corps Job Recruiting Office,Commissioned Personnel Center (CPC 2)

11400 Rockville Pike, Room 110A

Rockville, MD 20852


NASA Educational Affairs Division

NASA Headquarters

Washington, D.C. 20546


NOAA Educational Affairs Division

Universal South Bldg Suite 627

1825 Connecticut Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20235