Thursday, May 9

Shouting at the Rain + Stormy Weather Unit Study

Home base for the National Weather Center is located in Norman, OK.  Our homeschool co-op scheduled a group tour on a relatively uneventful weather day...but that was perfect, because we could stay and ask as many questions as we wanted, without being in the way.  

Our tour guide led us outside to the truck and equipment storage area.  We learned about each special vehicle and their latest research.  We got a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what happens on a severe weather day, and how the various crews begin their jobs.
From the ninth floor, you can see for miles!  Especially on a beautiful, clear day like this one.  Also, since this is about midway through the tour, the bouncy seats in the aerial room and a lot of fun to play on and release some energy...
Back down in the forecasting center, we saw the room where all severe weather watches and warnings are issued for the United States (excepting AK and HI).  On a spring day, this place would be full of people, but today there were only two men working.  We learned the different desks' jobs, and why each separate piece of data is so important.  After a lengthy discussion about how storms and tornadoes are created, and the movie Twister, we headed back down to the lobby...
Severe weather is any type of weather that has the potential to cause damage, social disruption, or loss of life.  Depending on where you live, you may experience different types of severe weather, including earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado, blizzard, ice storm, wildfire, severe thunderstorm, or dust storm.

"Weather" is defined by its temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, and solar radiation.  Some basic instruments meteorologists use to measure these include:

  • Humidity- Hygrometer
  • Precipitation- Rain Gauge
  • Pressure- Barometer
  • Temperature- Thermometer
  • Wind Speed- Anemometer
  • Wind Direction- Wind Vane

Different types of clouds can also foretell weather changes.  
  • Cumulus clouds - cotton-ball clouds - come with nice weather...the kind where you lay back and make cloud shapes all afternoon!  
  • Stratus clouds look like layers of blankets and often bring cool temperatures, rain, and even snow.  
  • Cirrus clouds are like wisps and curly-ques high in the sky.  They usher in warm fronts and can be a sign of bad weather to come.
  • Cumulonimbus clouds are the ones we typically associate with severe storms, as they can be indicative of developing thunderstorms.  These are the "wall clouds," and some can reach as tall as 60,000 feet!
  • Shouting at the Rain
    • Delsie loves tracking the weather--lately, though, it seems the squalls are in her own life. She's always lived with her kindhearted Grammy, but now she's looking at their life with new eyes and wishing she could have a "regular family." Delsie observes other changes in the air, too--the most painful being a friend who's outgrown her. Luckily, she has neighbors with strong shoulders to support her, and Ronan, a new friend who is caring and courageous but also troubled by the losses he's endured. As Ronan and Delsie traipse around Cape Cod on their adventures, they both learn what it means to be angry versus sad, broken versus whole, and abandoned versus loved. And that, together, they can weather any storm.  Delsie weathers the storms of middle school, with emotional highs and lows and events that seem to come out of nowhere.  Ronan becomes her calm in the storm, in spite of his own troubles and growing pains.  It seemed only fitting that we studied stormy weather while reading this one...
  • Extreme Weather
Make / Do
  • occluded front
  • cumulonimbus
  • isobar
  • dew point
  • troposphere
  • crosswind
  • solar flare
  • downdraft
  • heat lightning
  • air mass
  • tailwind
  • biosphere
  • greenhouse effect
  • thunderhead
  • jet stream
  • What is climate? How does climate relate to weather?
  • How do Delsie's emotions compare to different weather patterns?
Check out our other Book Studies!


  1. This is a neat unit using a book I haven't heard of. I'll have to check it out.

  2. I had not heard of that book, what ages would you recommend it for?

    1. I'd say middle school for most readers.

  3. Lots of great info for when we study weather more deeply!