Study Tools

The Oklahoma Mesonet provides a significant volume of data and products. Many of these products were designed for use by meteorologists. However, the general user easily can understand how to use them with a little instruction. The following interpretation articles explain the components that make up each product and how best to use them.


Classroom Activities

Focus on Fog (from Oklahoma Climate Spring 2008)

Fog is usually formed in one of four ways. This article describes each of the four types and how clouds form. Determine how many days of fog on average your area experiences by interpreting a map.

Glazed Over (from Oklahoma Climate Winter 2007-08)

Most precipitation starts as snow, but ends up falling on the ground as one of four precipitation types: snow, rain, freezing rain, or sleet. Freezing precipitation causes several hazards in the winter, such as those experienced by Oklahomans on December 9-10, 2007. The exercise consentrates on understanding the effects of freezing precipitation on trees.

Watering (from Oklahoma Climate Fall 2007)

Plants need water, especially in dry months, but we need to keep the limited water supply in mind. Use graphs to determine the best time for watering a lawn in three towns.

Soil Moisture (from Oklahoma Climate Summer 2007)

The Oklahoma Mesonet is one of the few observing systems that measures soil moisture. The values are usually expressed as Fractional Water Index (FWI). Read plots of FWI at various levels to look at moisture changes in a 6-month period.

Severe Winds (from Oklahoma Climate Spring 2007)

Not all severe thunderstorm winds are caused by tornadoes. Straight-line winds can also cause widespread damage. Compute basic statistics to examine a straight-line wind case.

Wet Bulb Temperature (from Oklahoma Climate Winter 2006-07)

How is wet bulb temperature used by meteorologists? Use Oklahoma Mesonet data to observe the wet bulbing effect in action during an event.

Flash Flood Guidance (from Oklahoma Climate Fall 2006)

The National Weather Service River Forecast Centers issue Flash Flood Guidance throughout the day for every county in their area. This information is used by the NWS Weather Forecast Offices when issuing flash flood watches and warnings to the public. Examine the rainfall from Tropical Storm Dean to determine where flooding may have occurred and compare your answers with the Flash Flood Guidance.

Rainfall Trends (from Oklahoma Climate Spring 2006)

How do you know if today's weather is an extreme event? You must compare today's weather to all recorded weather events or the climate record for your area. Look at the statewide rainfall history of April to determine which decades were warmer or drier than the average.

Winter Weather Forecasting (from Oklahoma Climate Winter 2005-2006)

Winter weather forecasting is not an easy process. Surface temperatures along with the temperature and moisture content at different levels in the atmosphere all contribute to whether precipitation reaching the ground will be snow, sleet, freezing rain, or rain. Learn how forecasters use critical thicknesses to predict precipitation type.

Wind Power (from Oklahoma Climate Fall 2005)

Wind energy is a popular resource. Is it profitable to build a wind farm anywhere in Oklahoma? Graph the mean average wind speed for two Mesonet stations to determine the better location to construct a wind farm.

Heatbursts (from Oklahoma Climate Summer 2005)

The concept of a heatburst was introduced by Cline in 1909 after an unusual event in Cherokee, Oklahoma. For eighty-five years, heatbursts were considered rare events. But in 1994, scientists gained a tool that resulted in new research. Loyal readers will recognize this date as the launch of the Oklahoma Mesonet.

Thunderstorm Outflow (from Oklahoma Climate Spring 2005)

This event produced significant severe weather from Kansas, western Oklahoma, and north Texas in many areas that were forecast to experience a normal summer day. This activity looks at the storms of 17 August 1994 after they have moved into central and southern Oklahoma, after a gust front has formed. Look at the maps of air temperature and winds to determine where you believe the largest storm is located.

Winter Weather Meteograms (from Oklahoma Climate Winter 2004-2005)

Winter weather events can be just as damaging as tornadoes. Winter weather impacts travel, school, and the ability of utility companies to supply electricity for lights and heat. In this activity, we will look back at a major winter storm during the winter of 2001-02. The following meteograms are based on data taken at the El Reno Mesonet site. El Reno is located in central Oklahoma, west of Oklahoma City. This event caused major damage to our electric utility infrastructure.

Solar Radiation and Leaf Color (from Oklahoma Climate Fall 2004)

Weather conditions play a vital role in the range of autumn colors displayed. Once trees are left with a large number of healthy leaves, the two determining factors in the color are temperature and sunlight (or solar radiation).

Heat Index (from Oklahoma Climate Summer 2004)

Hot summer temperatures mean paying attention to Heat Index values. This activity demonstrates the relationship between air temperature and relative humidity and their affect on Heat Index.

Tornado Alley (from Oklahoma Climate Spring 2004)

In this activity, students look at the number of tornadoes in each county of Oklahoma from 1950-2003.

Wacky Water (from Oklahoma Climate Winter 2003-2004)

Sometimes the lack of data on a map indicates a significant weather event. During winter precipitation events, missing wind reports reveal areas of ice accumulation on the instruments.

Station Model Plots (from Oklahoma Climate Fall 2003)

A standard map used by meteorologists is the Station Model Plot. This map provides surface conditions of temperature, dew point, pressure, rainfall, and wind speed and direction for each station. Using a different color for each variable, the data are plotted around each station. Meteorologist analyzes each variable, looking for overlapping patterns like cold fronts, low pressure systems, drylines, or wind shifts.

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