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20 February 2015
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These television programmes are designed to support the KS2 Geography curriculum. The series examines the interdependence of humans and physical environments and has an issue-based approach.
About the Programme
Programme 9 - Extreme Weather
Friday, 22 March 2002

ARCHIVE - SELB programme code :TG 0350

This episode is now part of our archive. This programme is still available to schools to borrow or purchase from the Audio Visual Recording service at the SELB. Please quote the SELB programme code in your correspondence. See our ordering page for more information.

From pleasant sunny days to devastating storms the weather is an important part of daily life for everyone in the world. We all have expectations of what our particular weather should be like and, although our weather here in Northern Ireland can be very changeable, we do not expect to experience some of the most extreme events like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts that happen in other parts of the world. That, however, does not stop us thinking about them as many people here show great concern for those unfortunate enough to be affected by these types of extreme weather events.

The programme is presented by Donna Traynor who visits St Comgall’s P.S. in Antrim. The Primary 3 and Primary 7 classes have been studying the weather. With their help Donna introduces the programme’s three main areas of study. These are - 1. Types of extreme weather, 2. Our local weather and 3. Measuring and forecasting the weather. Donna has been followed to the school by a mysterious Weather Imp and where she appears there are opportunities to pause the programme for more in depth discussions if required.

Types of Extreme Weather

The programme looks at a number of examples of extreme weather here. We see flooding at Strabane, Co. Tyrone, the long hot summer of 1995 and the very cold start to 1996. The point is made that what is unusual here can be very ordinary elsewhere, and the scale of extremes can vary enormously across the world. This is due in part to variations in climate. Climate is the pattern of weather which a particular area experiences, measured over a long period of time. Using simple graphics the programme offers a basic explanation of the world’s different climate areas.

Our Weather

The British Isles have a cool temperate climate, i.e. rainfall throughout the year with warm summers and cold winters. However, extremes here are moderated by the influence of the warm Atlantic waters which surround these islands. Using a combination of graphics and examples the programme shows how our local climate comes about and what can alter its patterns to give the very changeable weather we get across our seasons.

Measuring and Forecasting the Weather

To make life safer and more comfortable, man has always tried to predict what the weather might do. P7 have been working on a project about weather folklore and we hear some weather sayings which they have found. Donna explains how these have been superseded by the science of meteorology.

Using a computer connected to weather instruments located on the school roof, P7 take hourly recordings of weather measurements including temperature, wind speed and direction. This introduces us to the work of the Met Office . We see meteorologists taking weather measurements at Belfast International Airport and launching a weather balloon from their weather station near Hillsborough, Co. Down. Donna explains how weather measurements are being taken all around the globe to build a complex picture of what the world’s weather is doing. She goes on to explain how it takes some of the world’s most powerful computers to analyse such huge amounts of information. At the Met Office headquarters in England meteorologists use one of these computers to produce weather forecasts. They can also look at satellite images of the world’s weather to enhance and improve these forecasts. Donna explains how meteorologists at Aldergrove use their local knowledge and experience to tailor these forecasts so that they can be used by a wide range of local customers.
Before the Programme

  • Discuss the key words: weather, meteorologist, forecast.
  • On a map of Northern Ireland locate and mark Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Antrim and Hillsborough, Co. Down.

After the Programme

  • Ask the class to think about their own experiences of extreme weather. Has anyone been affected by flooding, or has someone had property damaged by strong or violent winds?
  • Have any of them visited a country seen in the programme, or has anyone experienced hurricanes or tornadoes? Perhaps some of them have been involved in raising money to help people made homeless by floods or droughts.
  • Look in more detail at NI weather. Are there geographical features in your area which affect the local weather? These could be hills or mountains, which can be wetter on one side than the other. If the sea is close by it can reduce the risk of severe frosts in winter.
  • Start a weather folklore project. Pupils could gather more weather sayings and discuss how they may have come about or what they might mean.
  • Research and record examples of extreme weather which have happened in the past. These could be either local events or incidents which have affected the whole country. For example, the big wind of 1839 which devastated large areas of Ireland. Searches could be carried out on the internet. Teachers may find a variety of other resources on the NINE website in the Resources section under Licensed materials. Here you will be able to find images and newspaper articles.
  • Start keeping a daily record of weather observations. these could include details of whether it is hot or cold, sunny or cloudy, wet or dry, and windy or calm. At the same time make a record of the weather forecast for each day. Compare this to the actual observations and monitor how accurate forecasts are. Weather observations could be recorded using a variety of computer software available now to all primary schools.
  • In the programme we saw some examples of people who use special weather forecasts. Think of other examples of people or industries who might use the Met Office. Look in more detail at what information they might want and why they need it.

Further Resources
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

"Weather & Climate"
By Fiona Watt and Francis Wilson.
ISBN 07460 06837

"Storms and Hurricanes"
By Kathy Gemmell.
ISBN 07460 20120

"Natural Disasters"
By Carol Watson
Published by the Penguin Group
ISBN 0-14-037406-X

Geography Programmes
Programme 1:
Strating Grid:
Programme 2:
Here and There:
Programme 3:
Go with the Flow
Programme 4:
Green Power
Programme 5:
Sustainable Development
Programme 6:
In the Balance
Programme 7:
Lough Neagh
Programme 8:
Programme 9:
Extreme Weather
Can't find your subject? Visit our archive section where you can find programmes supporting other curricular subjects, including: Geography, History, Citizenship and English.

Visit the archive.

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