Introduction to weather forecasting

Image caption A weather forecast from the 1950s.

What is a weather forecast?

Whether the sun is shining, the rain is pouring, there are gale force winds or snow is expected, everyone is interested to know what weather is on the way.

Weather reports have been broadcast on the BBC for 90 years. The first in-vision weather forecast, with the forecaster on screen, was seen on BBC TV 60 years ago. The presenters used hand-drawn charts to show weather systems. Technology has moved on a lot since then, but people are still just as interested in finding out what the weather has in store.

These activities will help students understand the core message of a weather forecast and to know who the audience is when they make one themselves.


Watch a forecast

In small groups, ask students to visit one of these weather websites listed on the right, watch a video forecast and answer these questions:

  • What weather were you expecting to see?
  • What unexpected weather did you see? (tornadoes, hurricanes, etc)
  • Who needs to know about the weather?

Who is the forecast for?

In small groups, ask students to make a list of people for whom the weather forecast is important and the element(s) of the forecast of most interest to them.

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Carol Kirkwood explores BBC weather maps through the ages

For example, someone who gets the bus to school may only want to know if it is going to rain, whereas if you are a cyclist, you might want to know how strong the wind is as well so you can decide whether you really want to take to the roads!

UK weather

Ask students to imagine they are presenting a two-minute weather broadcast for the UK. In their groups, students write down the main things they will need to convey to millions of people across the UK.

Get each group to feedback to the class.

Identify the common areas, for example most people in the UK need to know if it is going to be hot, cold, wet or dry. How can they cater for everyone?

Who is your forecast for?

Think about who your audience is, and what they need to know or may want to know about the forthcoming weather.

As a class, students decide who they are going to broadcast to and what are the main elements of the weather forecast their audience will want to or need to know.

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