Weather forecasters or meteorologists use several tools to help predict the weather. A meteorologist is a scientist who studies the atmosphere and predicts what the weather will be today, tomorrow, or in the future. Weather forecasters are also meteorologists. A weather forecast is a prediction by a meteorologist and is often given on television using the tools to predict the weather for today, tomorrow, or next week. A meteorologist will use computer models, observations, and a knowledge of trends and patterns to predict the weather. A computer model is a computer process or program that helps predict the weather.
Some of the tools used by a weather forecaster include a thermometer, barometer, rain gauge, and anemometer. A thermometer measures the air temperature. A barometer measures air pressure. A rain gauge measure the amount of rain that falls over a specific timer period. An anemometer measures air speed. All are examples of weather instruments. Sometimes people use wind vanes to determine the direction the wind is blowing. A wind vane shows the direction of the wind, whether it is blowing towards the north, south, east, or west, or in between.
Several other instruments a meteorologist or weather forecaster uses are weather balloons, weather satellites, weather buoys, and Doppler radar.
A weather balloon is the size of a large beach ball when it is sent into the air but grows to the size of a bus as the air pressure increases. Eventually the weather balloon bursts and a parachute allows a lightweight cardboard box filled with scientific instruments to drop to the ground. The scientific instruments in the box have measured wind speed, wind direction, air pressure, air temperature, and other data.
A weather satellite orbits the Earth or can hover over the same spot. Weather satellites carry instruments that scan the Earth to form images. The images take less than a minute to be sent to Earth. The weather satellites usually have some sort of small telescope or antenna for the purpose of monitoring weather systems around the world. Satellites operate for three to seven years, but some last much longer. The data from satellites is sent to weather stations and then relayed to weather forecast centers all over the world.
Weather buoys measure air temperature above the ocean surface, wind speed (steady and gusting), wind direction and other data. Weather buoys work similarly as a weather balloon, except they are located in oceans, as well as lakes. In addition, because they are in oceans and lakes, they also measure water temperature, wave height, and other data.
Doppler radar gives weather forecaster more information to share with people interested in learning about the amount of rain to expect, how much rain, the speed and direction of wind and much more. Doppler radar can also provide early detection of severe thunderstorms that may cause dangerous winds, large hail, heavy rain, and possibly tornadoes.
In summary, weather forecasters and meteorologists use many instruments to predict the weather all over the world. The instruments they use may be as simple as a thermometer to measure the how cold or warm the air is, to other instruments that send messages all over the world, like Doppler radar or a weather satellite.
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