Lab 12 - Earth Science


This exercise is designed to help you interpret weather maps prepared by the National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA).  You will be given a copy of an official weather map, together with an explanation sheet for the symbols and terminology to which you can refer to answer the questions.

I.  Weather observations are routinely made every 6 hours at stations around the world.  From this data, maps are made showing surface weather conditions and conditions in the troposphere.

1.  What is the date of your weather map?

2.  At what time were the observations valid?
 a.  Surface and 500-millibar maps
 b.  Temperature and precipitation maps

II.  Using the smaller maps printed on the lower right portion of the weather map, answer the following questions:

1.  What were the highest and lowest temperatures recorded at Chicago for a 24-hour period ending at 1:00 a.m.?
Highest: Lowest:

2.  Which weather station recorded the highest amount of precipitation for a 24-hour period, and what the amout?
Station Name: Amount in inches:

3.  At approximately what altitude above Chicago was the barometric pressure 500 millibars?  (If not 500-millibar height contour is located directly above Chicago on the map, select a contour that is nearby, or interpolate a value.)
Altitude of 500-millibar height contour above or near Chicago:                                                feet

4.  What was the approximate wind speed at this altitude?

5.  What was the air temperature at this altitude?

III.  The following questions refer to the large surface weather map.  Notice the surved black lines which are closed or go off to the edge of the map.

1.  These lines are called                                            and connect point having the same                                            .

2.  Notice the numbers (such as "996," "1000," etc.) on these lines or at the ends of them.  What do these numbers represent?

3.  What is meant by the words "HIGH" and "LOW" and the letters "L" and "H" on the weather map?  (All of these may not be shown on your map)

4.  Give the geographic location of one HIGH and one LOW shown on your map.
HIGH location: LOW location:

5.  What conclusion can you draw about the amount of area on the earth's surface, covered by these?

6.  What is the barometric pressure at the center of the HIGH and the center of the LOW?

7.  What conclusion can you draw about the pressure requirement for an area to be marked "HIGH"?

8.  What is the highest value of barometric pressure shown on your weather map?   What is the lowest?
Highest: Lowest:

9.  Does precipitation seem to occur in association with the HIGHs or with the LOWs?

IV.  Masses of air are classifified to indicate their origin and basic characteristics.  For example, the letter P (Polar) denotes relativedly cold air from northern regions, and the letter T (Tropical) denotes relatively warm air from southerly regions.  Letters placed before P and T indicate air of maritime characteristics (m) or continental characteristics (c).  Letters placed after P and T show that the air mass is cooler (k) or warmer (w) than the surface over which it is moving.  A plus sign (+) between 2 air mass symbols indicates a transitional air mass changing from one type to the other.  Two air mass symbols, one above the other and separated by a line, indicate one air mass aloft and another at lower levels.  Air mass symbols are formed by combinations of the following letters:
m = Maritime

c = Continental

A = Arctic

P = Polar

T = Tropical

E = Equatorial

S = Superior (a warm, dry air mass having its origin aloft)

k = colder than the surface over which the air mass is moving

w = warmer than the surface over which the air mass is moving

1.  What is meant by the following air mass symbols?
cP =
mP =
mT =
cA =
mTk =
cPw =

2.  Draw the symbols used for each of the following events (look up in your booklet "Daily Weather Maps")
a.  cold front symbol = 
b.  warm front symbol =
c.  stationary front symbol =
d.  occluded front symbol =

3.  What kinds of weather fronts are shown on your map?

4.  For each of the fronts on your maps, what type of air mass lies on each side of the front?

V.   Interpret the sample station model below, use your "Daily Weather Maps" guide booklet (Page 2) to decipher the weather information as required:
Sky coverage:
Wind Direction (dd) of wind source:
Wind Velocity (ff) in miles per hour:
Air Temperature TT) in Fahrenheit degrees:
Visibility (VV) in miles:
Present Weather (ww) description:
Dew Point Temperature (TdTd):
Cloud Type, Low Altitude (CL):
Sky Coverage of Low and/or Middle Clouds (Nh):
Barometric Pressure (PPP) in millibars:
Pressure Change (pp):
Pressure Tendency (a):
Past Weather (W):
Time Precipitation Began or Ended (Rt):
Amount of Precipitation (RR) in inches: