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By: Efraim Harari

It seems that there are weather reports on the news every five or ten minutes. Why is the weather forecast so important to so many people?

Accurate weather predictions are important for planning our
day-to-day activities. The weather affects almost everything you do, from the food you eat (should you order a piping hot bowl of soup or a cold refreshing drink), to the clothing you wear (should you wear a rain coat, gloves, hat, or sunglasses), to your outdoor activities, to your travel arrangements. The weather can also affect your mood, as a sunny day may make you feel happy, while a cloudy day may make you feel down.

For some, the weather might mean that they have to plant or harvest particular crops; for others, bad weather conditions can mean a delay in their flights, or delays in their commutes to work. Certain weather can cancel a sporting event, ruin a picnic, make a day at the park or the lake just perfect, or even mean a day off from school!

Weather forecasting also helps people stay out of danger, by warning them about extreme and potentially dangerous weather systems such as hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and storms. These warnings give people time to find safe shelter and to stock up on food and supplies.

It is interesting to note that before weather forecasts, farmers had their own methods to calculate if rain was coming. One method was to hang a piece of dry seaweed outside. When rain was on the way, the seaweed felt sticky. Another method was to listen if their chairs would squeak. This is because wooden chairs absorb moisture from the air, which causes them to make a squeaky noise.

First Forecast

The first daily weather forecast was printed in The Times, a British newspaper, on August 1, 1861.

The Difference Between a Weatherman and a Meteorologist

Although a weatherman and a meteorologist both deal with predicting weather conditions, they are two completely different kinds of professionals.

 A meteorologist is a scientist with an education degree related to atmospheric science or meteorology. Meteorologists are able to make a professional forecast based on computerized weather information and scientific analysis. A weatherman, on the other hand, does not need the advanced knowledge that a meteorologist has in order to perform his job, as what a weatherman does is report the weather based on the information calculated by a meteorologist. A weatherman usually has a degree in journalism and needs to be able to speak well and to perform well in front of an audience or a radio microphone while reporting on the weather.

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere is a mixture of gases that surrounds Planet Earth, sort of the way the peel of an orange surrounds the orange. The atmosphere is made up of five main layers. The troposphere is the lowest layer, which contains about 90% of all the air. All of the Earth’s weather occurs in the troposphere. The other main layers of the atmosphere are the stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere.

Did You Know?

The term “weather” describes the conditions in the air around us. The weather is caused by the sun heating the atmosphere, oceans, and the Earth’s surface. The hot air rises and the cool air sinks, which causes air to move across the globe. Depending on various factors, the air may be hot or cold, still or windy, and wet or dry.

Long Hair Day

Your hair is longer on a damp day, because it absorbs water from the air and expands!


Divine Weather

One thing the Jewish people did not do as they left Mitzrayim was check the weather forecast. Freedom was the only thing on their minds. It is rather curious, then, that Moshe found it necessary to report on the weather conditions: “Look!” he declared. “Today you are leaving, in the month
of springtime…” (Shemot 13:4)

Rashi explains: Moshe was telling the Jewish people, “See the kindness of Hashem! He wants your journey out of Mitzrayim to be as comfortable as possible, so He made the weather magnificent outside! It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, it’s not raining; the weather is just perfect. Recognize the good Hashem is bestowing upon you!”

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Adapted by Efraim Harari of The Jewish World of Wonders.
Books in The Jewish World of Wonder Series include Exploring the Wild
World of Animals and Exploring the Wisdom & Wonders of the Universe,
published by Israel Bookshop Publications.