Label: Weather

March 1, 2012

Seymour Simon is preparing to travel to visit a school next week. It is easy to tell because we are getting so many comments from new readers on the Seymour Science blog. Students in the Menands, NY schools - this contest is for you!

  Two lucky winners are going to receive personally autographed copies of Seymour Simon’s book WEATHER! Here is how you enter Seymour’s Cloud Watching Contest:

  1.    Have you ever heard the expression "March comes in like a lion, but goes out like lamb?" There is often blustery, snowy, windy weather at the beginning of March. And that means this month is a perfect time for cloud watching.


2.    Do some research and tell us which are the three most common types of clouds. And, tell us which type of cloud are you most likely to see on a fair weather day.

3.    You can find your information on this blog, in Seymour’s books about weather, or using other resources, like the library and the Internet.

4.    Click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog entry to enter the contest by writing what you have learned about clouds.

5.    When you write your information, be sure to also tell us your name (first name only), school and email address. If you do not have an email address, tell us your teacher’s name, so we can contact you if you are the winner.

6.    Be sure to post your entry by midnight, Friday, March 9. The contest ends then.

Two winners will be chosen randomly from all the correct entries. Older students may enter individually, and we will pick one winner. Students in grades K-2 may enter as a class and work with their teacher to enter the contest; there will be one classroom winner. Both winners will receive copies of WEATHER, autographed by Seymour Simon.

So, get to work and send us your entries today. Your comments will be invisible until everyone has a chance to enter. Once the contest is over, we will post everyone’s writing.

Good luck!




For Families, Teachers and Media Specialists: Did you know that there is a free, downloadable "Teachers Guide" for WEATHER? In fact, there are guides for all of Seymour Simon’s Smithsonian books. Become a member of today by clicking on the "Educators and Families" header. We hope you use these extensive, free support materials with your children.


Photo: Seymour Simon 


Posted by: Liz Nealon

Labels: School Visits, Contests, Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 19, 2012












Snowman looks at the city. He is happy because friends are being created! 


The cities and towns around Seattle, Washington received up to 8 inches of snow yesterday, officially making the winter storm one of Seattle’s 10 worst since the early 1940s, when record-keeping began. Schools and businesses are closed again today, as freezing temperatures have turned slushy roads into sheets of ice. I have a feeling there was a shout of joy early this morning from Seattle kids, who don’t often get a snow day. The snowman is happy, indeed!

The caption for the photograph above was written by Will from Ohio. He submitted this lovely piece of writing as part of yesterday’s “Writing Wednesday.” Nice job, Will!

Photo: Sam Jennings




          Note to Teachers and Library Media Specialists: 

I have created a Guide called “Writing Exciting Nonfiction,” which you can download by clicking on this link. It outlines different techniques that I use in my writing, and includes many examples from my books. I have posted it so that you can use it with your students. Please let me know if it is helpful, and share any other feedback about how we can make this blog a productive tool for you to use in exploring and encouraging nonfiction writing with your students.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Weather, Writing, Winter   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 18, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday you can publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

Writing Wednesday has two simple rules:

1.    Give us the best you’ve got in 5 minutes. That’s right - five minutes of creative writing. Think of it as a word extravaganza to warm up your brain for the rest of the day!

2.    Tell us your first name, the name of your school, and how old you are.

Ready? Let’s go! Today, we would like you to read the news story below, and then write a caption for the photograph. We will publish the best caption on the Seymour Science blog.

NEWS STORY: Schools are closed this morning in Seattle and flights into the city are cancelled in anticipation of a second major snowstorm in four days. The city was already hit with a snowstorm on Sunday night, and a potentially historic winter storm is bearing down on the city today.

Seattle is a Pacific coast city that is not used to dealing with heavy snow - their average snowfall is just 5.9 inches per year. By the time today’s storm is finished, the city may have received up to three times that much - in a single week!

Here is the photograph. Write a caption that will capture readers’ attention and draw them into reading more of the story. Your writing could be serious, or it could be funny. Either approach is fine, as long as what you write makes the reader want to know more! Write your caption and submit it by clicking on the "Comments" below. Happy writing!








Photo: Sam Jennings

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Weather, Writing, Bell Ringers   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 19, 2011



As a major winter storm begins hammering parts of the High Plains in far northeast New Mexico, northwest Texas, western Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas, we started wondering about the snowiest places. Where in the U.S. do people get the most snow every year? 


According to the Weather Channel, #5 on the "snowiest list" is Lead, South Dakota. Lead is in the northern Black Hills, where powerful north winds swirl through the surrounding hills.

  • Average yearly snow: 201.4 inches
  • Population: 3,124
  • Snowiest month: March (35 inches)
  • Snowiest day ever: 52 inches (March 14, 1973)
  • Record Depth: 73 inches (March 1, 1998)


#4: Truckee, California. Truckee is in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which have a long, deadly history of burying pioneers and wagon trains, as well as modern trains, in the mountain passes during huge snowstorms.

  • Average yearly snow: 202.6 inches
  • Population : 16,180
  • Snowiest month: February (44.3 inches) 


#3: Hancock, Michigan. Why do they get so much snow in Hancock? In addition to the fact that it is in the far northern part of the U.S., Hancock is also close to Lake Superior, and the cold winds pick up moisture from the lake.

  • Average yearly snow: 211.7 inches 
  • Population: 4,634
  • Snowiest month: January (65.6 inches)
  • Snowiest day: 26.5 inches (January 18, 1996) 
  • Record depth: 73 inches (February 28, 1937)


#2: Crested Butte, Colorado. At an elevation of 8,860 feet, Crested Butte has a history of spectacular New Year’s storms!

  • Average yearly snow: 215.8 inches
  • Population: 1,487 
  • Snowiest month: January (39.5 inches)
  • Snowiest day: 31 inches (January 1, 1982) 
  • Record depth: 120 inches (December 31, 1923)
#1 - the place in the U.S. that gets the most snow - is Valdez, Alaska.  Why do they get so much snow? One of Earth’s most common low pressure systems, the "Aleutian low," settles in each winter just to the southwest of Valdez. When this happens, large amounts of moisture from the Pacific Ocean flood into southern Alaska and because the air is cold, the result is heavy snow. Consistently. EVERY year!
  • Average yearly snow: 326.3 inches
  • Population: 3,976 
  • Snowiest month: December (71.9 inches) 
  • Snowiest day: 47.5 inches (January 16,1990)


Army of Snowmen Photo Courtesy of Nerd Approved.


For those of you receiving iPads or Nook Color/Tablets this season, Seymour Simon has many quality eBooks available for purchase, some discounted as much as 50% for the holidays. If you are adding reading material to a tablet, please consider making Seymour Simon’s exceptional nonfiction for children part of your collection. Happy holidays to all!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Weather, Winter   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 29, 2011

Don’t pay any attention to people who are saying that government officials over-reacted by urging us all to prepare for Hurricane Irene. The past 48 hours were a textbook example of the value of good preparation. This was a massive, slow-moving storm, and forecasters correctly predicted days in advance that the problem would be huge amounts of rain and flooding, rather than wind. Many, many more lives could have been lost had people not heeded orders to evacuate the areas that have been flooded by rivers and streams overflowing their banks.

Meteorologists did an amazing job of predicting this particular storm’s path. Retired National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield described it as a "gold medal forecast. I don’t think there’s any doubt," he said. "I think they saved lives." By Tuesday night, they predicted that Hurricane Irene would rake the coast. And on Friday morning - 24 hours before landfall - they accurately predicted the storm’s next day location to within 10 miles. That is extraordinarily accurate.

The main reason that meteorology (the science of predicting weather) is getting more accurate is that we are building better computer models, and scientists are also getting more and better data to plug into those models. As Hurricane Irene formed in the Caribbean, days before it made landfall in the US, NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency) sent up old-fashioned propeller planes and weather balloons into the storm. They gathered Doppler radar information, which was then plugged into computer models that helped to predict how the storm would be develop.

Twenty years ago, 24-hour forecasts were lucky if they got it right within 100 miles. With Irene, that was about the accuracy of the forecast five days ahead of the storm. The more we learn about hurricanes, the better our chances of staying safe.


Photo: GLENN RUSSELL, Burlington Free Press

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Weather, Hurricanes, Hurricane Irene   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 26, 2011


If you live on the East Coast of the United States, you have been hearing warnings for the last several days to get prepared for Hurricane Irene. There are lots of things that need to be done that kids can help with. Hurricane preparation is a family affair!

Here are some things you can do:


  • Walk outside and look for anything that might be blown around in a strong wind - an innocent toy or lawn chair can become a missile that breaks windows or causes injury when it’s caught up in an 80 mile per hour wind! Things that should be brought inside include: bicycles, skateboards, toys, garbage cans, sprinklers, watering cans, toys, garden tools, lawn furniture, umbrellas, recycling bins. Anything that can fly around should be brought indoors.
  • Help your family locate all the flashlights in the house, and put them all in one place, so you can find them easily if the lights go out. Check each to see if they are working, or if the batteries need to be replaced. Make a list of what kind of batteries each one needs, and how many. (You should buy double that number, so that you have backups).
  • Your family is going to need to do some extra food shopping. You can help to carry the bags and put the food away when you get home.
Pick out a favorite "read aloud" book, and put it in the "safe room" (the basement or interior room, with no windows) where your family will all gather together during the storm. When the electricity is out and there is no television or computer, it’s a great time for the whole family to read a story together, by flashlight! 
  • If your family lives in an area that may be evacuated, pack your backpack with a set of clean clothes and three sets of clean underwear. Put in your favorite toy or book, your toothbrush and a comb or brush. That way you are ready to go when the time comes.
  • FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a very good website with a checklist for preparing for a hurricane. Go to that website and print out the list, so that you can help your family to know everything that they need to get ready for the storm. 

ONE VERY IMPORTANT NOTE FOR ALL KIDS: After the hurricane passes, the area where you live may be flooded. Don’t go out and play in the water. Flooded areas are dangerous. Rapidly moving water even less than a foot deep can sweep you away. And, water may also be electrically charged from downed or damaged power lines. If you are in the street and see water, turn around and go the other way!

FOR FAMILIES WITH PRESCHOOLERS: It can be very difficult to explain big events like hurricanes to very little kids. My friends and former colleagues at Sesame Street have a great "hurricane toolkit" that includes video, and it’s free for any family who wants to use it. Click on the graphic to find these excellent materials.



Being prepared makes big storms less scary, and helps to keep people safe. 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Summer Vacation Science, Weather, Hurricanes, Hurricane Irene   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 26, 2011

With all the talk on the news about preparation for Hurricane Irene, a lot of you may be wondering what makes hurricanes such a big deal. Hurricanes are the world’s worst storms. That is surprising to some people, since tornadoes have much stronger winds that sometimes get as high as 300 miles (483 km) per hour. Hurricane winds rarely blow at even half that speed - in fact, a tropical storm becomes a hurricane when winds exceed just 74 miles (119 km) per hour.

So why are hurricanes (called "typhoons" in the North Pacific and "cyclones" in the Indian Ocean) the world’s deadliest storms?

A tornado is usually less than a mile (1.6km) wide on the ground, and lasts for less than an hour. So while a tornado causes a great deal of destruction, only a limited area is affected. A hurricane affects a much, much larger area. Even a small hurricane is hundreds of miles wide, and it can last for days or even weeks. In a single day, a large hurricane releases energy that is equal to two hundred times the amount of electricity generated on the entire planet. These are powerful storms!


Hurricane Irene is a particularly large and dangerous storm - nearly 600 miles (1000 km) wide at the time this photograph was taken by NASA’s Terra satellite. You can see bands of thunderstorms spiraling tightly around a dense center. That is the circular shape of a well-developed hurricane.  

The most important thing, when a hurricane is approaching, is to be prepared. If you are in an area that is subject to coastal flooding, you must heed the warnings of local government officials and evacuate when they tell you to. If you are not in a flood zone, there are many things you should do to prepare for not only the storm itself, but also for at least three days without electricity and water. FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a good checklist on their website.

To get the latest local information about the approaching storm, go to any Internet search engine, and type in "[your county] [your state] emergency management." That will give you a link for the Office of Emergency Management for your area, where you will find up-to-date information and phone numbers to help you get information about how the storm will affect your area.

We have learned a lot about hurricanes in recent years, and as our weather forecasting software, warning systems and emergency planning get better, we are saving lives. The more we learn about hurricanes, the better our chances of staying safe.


I updated my book HURRICANES in 2007, after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, becoming the costlest and most destructive hurricane in U.S. history. You can learn more about the science behind hurricanes, and see many incredible photographs of these powerful forces of nature.  

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Summer Vacation Science, Weather, Hurricanes, Hurricane Irene   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 19, 2011


Are you keeping cool during the heat wave that is gripping most of North America? It’s hot in Europe, too, and the zookeepers in Rome came up with a great idea. Look at this macaque (pronounced meh-KACK, a kind of monkey) staying cool by eating a block of frozen fruit. We figured this just had to be our COOL photo of the week! 

Photo: Rome Bioparco Foundation/AP


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo, Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 4, 2011

I received a photograph this morning from a student name Ryan S. He wrote:


"This is not very science related, I just knew Seymour does photography and decided to upload something. I took this one while on vacation in Florida."


Ryan, thanks for writing and for sharing your excellent photograph. What a magnificent sky! There are three different types of clouds in your photograph. The long, straight thin ones that are closest to the horizon are called stratus clouds. The ones just above them, still long, thin and low in the sky, but a little bit puffy, are strato-cumulous clouds. And the big ones that look like cotton balls high in the sky are cumulus clouds.





I found a good chart, from Web Weather for Kids, that you can use to identify all the different clouds you see. Or you could always read my book WEATHER, which includes many of my own photos of clouds.




Thanks for uploading your photo. And you thought it didn’t have anything to do with science! 

I love it when students upload photos and videos that we can use on the blog. Do you know how to send me a photograph or a video? It’s easy. When you are on the homepage of the website, look at yellow bar at the very top of the page. Click on the little picture of a TV screen, to the right of where it says "Send us Photos/Video". That will take you to a page that reminds you how to stay safe when you upload photos or videos to the Internet, and then a very simple page that will help you upload your photo, or even record a video on your webcam! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Kids Write, Seymour Photographs, Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 22, 2011


Have you ever heard of a fog bow? A fog bow is similar to a rainbow, but it happens on foggy days. Like a rainbow, the fog bow is caused by sun passing through water, but the water droplets that cause fog are so small (less than 2/100 inch), the fog bow has very little color. Fog bows are sometimes called "white rainbows" or "cloudbows". Sailors call them "sea-dogs."

Check here every Tuesday for Seymour Simon’s "Cool Photo of the Week"!


Photo Credit: Mila Zinkova

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo, Weather, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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