Zack Green, WLOS Meteorologist, Visits Second Grade
Etowah Elementary students learned Wednesday that the fun cloud forms they described as “animal clouds” actually indicated “happy” weather, and they could look forward to playing outside at recess.
During a special visit to Etowah’s 2nd grade classes, WLOS News 13 Meteorologist Zack Green explained the clumpy clouds were called “stratocumulus” and indicated an area of high pressure without much chance of heavy precipitation.
“That’s what’s outside right now; that’s what makes the animal shapes,” Green said.
“When high pressure comes,” he said, drawing a capital “H” on the whiteboard, “think of ‘happy.’ The wind moves clockwise and we have descending air that isn’t as active.”
Drawing a capital “L” on the board, Green said the “L” in “low pressure” could also stand for “lame.” He explained that wind travels counterclockwise in a low pressure system, and the low pressure makes cool air rise, causing water vapor to form water droplets.
“That’s when we start to see weather happening,” Green said.
While students (and teachers) had been enjoying the warmer weather, Green said the day’s temperatures were actually higher than normal and displayed a local temperature map to illustrate his point.
As Green pointed to the orange and brick red splotches covering an outline of Western North Carolina, 2nd-grader Eli T. asked, “Do you use patterns?”
Green said patterns – weather that’s historically happened in the past – help meteorologists determine the area’s climate.
“The climate is what you can expect,” he said. “But what happens is, weather changes all the time.”
For instance, Green said, “High pressure has been controlling our region for the past few days. So what we see here is we’re going to be 8 to 10 degrees warmer than where we should be.”
Olivia M. asked, “Can you know what’s going on in another country?”
With a few clicks of his computer’s mouse, Green pulled up a temperature map of Europe.
“We can forecast all over the globe because there’s such a weather community and big nerds like me who want to know what’s going on,” he said.
Pointing at another map of the United States, Green asked students to name the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico before explaining how hurricanes form.
“Hurricanes happen in the ocean,” he said, congratulating students who knew that about 70 percent of Earth is covered by ocean.
“Water is (a hurricane’s) fuel,” said Green.
In an area of low pressure over the ocean, he said, the wind becomes more intense whipping around the air column at upwards of 200 mph, and everything has to go up, with more clouds forming around the area of low pressure – creating the eye of the storm.
He said the low pressure wants to become high pressure and to do so, clouds must release all the condensed water vapor they’ve been hanging onto when the hurricane hits land.
“Our land can’t contain all that water, and that’s when we get flooding,” Green said.
The students pelted Green with so many more questions, like, “What happens if a hurricane runs into another hurricane?” or “Can a tornado fall into a hole?” that he was almost late for his noon weather forecast back at the station.
Thank you, Mr. Green, for satisfying young, inquiring minds and visiting Etowah Elementary!
– By Molly McGowan Gorsuch
Public Information Officer