February 25, 2009
- Understanding the Weather
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
- Hudson Valley - Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center
- Capital District - Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center
- Adirondacks - Adirondack Park Agency Visitors Interpretive Centers at Newcomb and Paul Smiths
- Central New York - Rogers Environmental Education Center
- Western New York - Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center
Understanding the Weather
Everyone likes to talk about the weather, but how much do we really understand about what is going on outside? Here are a few quick facts to learn so that next time someone asks about the weather you can impress them with your meteorological knowledge:
What is wind?
Winds begin with a difference in air pressures. Air pressure that's higher in one place sets up a force that pushes the air toward another place where pressure is lower, causing wind. The greater the difference in pressures, the stronger the wind. The way the sun warms the Earth plays a part in the movement of air as well. Sunshine heats things up at different rates. In general land heats up and cools off faster than water. As land heats up, the air above it rises and is replaced by slightly cooler air at the surface. Under light wind conditions, wind will flow from water to land during the day.
How does rain form?
Evaporation of water from oceans, lakes and streams supplies water vapor to the air. This water vapor is needed for rain, sleet and snow. When air is warm, the water molecules in it move at very high speeds and don't bump into one another. When air cools, its water molecules slow down, bump together and become attached to one another, forming droplets of water. Millions of these tiny water droplets collide together in clouds to form larger ones, until, eventually, they become too heavy and fall out of the clouds as rain.
How does snow form?
When the temperature in the atmosphere is below freezing, the water vapor in clouds forms ice crystals instead of water droplets. The ice crystals form around tiny bits of dirt that have been carried up into the air by the wind. As the ice crystals grow, they become heavier and fall to Earth as snowflakes.
How do winter storms form?
Winter storms occur when two air masses of different temperatures and moisture levels meet. This usually occurs when a mass of cold, dry air moving south clashes with a mass of warm, moist air moving north. In this clash of air masses, called a front, one air mass has to be shoved out of the way, which is the cause for the dramatic weather changes we refer to as storms.
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Build a Rain Gauge
How do meteorologists know how much rain falls in a particular area? By using a rain gauge, of course! To build your own backyard rain gauge, find a glass jar with a wide-mouth (like a mason jar or peanut butter jar). Place a ruler inside the jar and tape it in place. When you know it is going to rain, place your jar in a flat, open area with nothing overhead. After the rain stops, bring your jar in and look at the ruler to see how much rain fell. Make sure to record your measurements soon after the rain ends before any of the water in your jar evaporates! Keep a record of how much rain falls in a month.
Make a Thunderstorm
Thunderstorms occur mostly during the spring and summer when warm and cold air masses meet. To make your own thunderstorm, get a clear plastic shoe box-size container, red food coloring, ice cubes made with water dyed blue, some drawing paper and red and blue colored pencils.
Fill the container two-thirds full with warm water (room temperature is good). Let the water sit until it is still, about 30 seconds. Disturbing the water as little as possible, float a blue ice cube at one end of the container and put two drops of red food coloring at the opposite end. Now watch what happens to the red and blue food coloring, and draw the results on the paper using the colored pencils.
What happened? Did the cold water (blue) sink while the warmer water (red) rose? What happened in the water is just like what happens in the atmosphere each time thunderclouds build. In a thunderstorm, a strong updraft of warm moist air forms and is lifted into the atmosphere by an approaching cold front. As the air rises, its moisture cools, condenses and falls to the ground as a sudden rainstorm.
Looking for an adventure this summer for your teenager? Check out DEC's Environmental Education Camps!
Check out Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Saturday, February 28 at 2:00 PM
Get ready to welcome our state bird back with your own bluebird nest box kit.
Guided Nature Walks
10:00 AM to 11:30 AM every Saturday - meet at the Manor House
Explore the trails and habitats at Stony Kill. Family-friendly hikes will be on snowshoes if there is enough snow cover.
Outdoors After School
3:30 PM to 5:00 PM every Thursday- February 26 to June 18
A nature walk for grade school children and their caregivers. Each week will feature a different theme and habitat.
Friday, February 27 at 7:00 PM
Join us for a night walk to listen for these feathered predators of the night, then warm up indoors and learn about New York's native owl species.
All Things After Dark
Saturday, February 28 at 12:30 PM (activities) and 6:30 PM (night walk)
All are invited to this day and night of workshops and hands on learning about constellations, night critters and telescopes. Costs: Members are free/Non-members - $3.00/children under 12 accompanied by a parent - free/pizza dinner - $3.50 per person. Call 518-475-0291 to register before February 18.
Paws to Reflect
Saturday, March 7 at 10:00 AM
An outdoor study of winter wildlife ecology, using animal tracks as "stepping-off" points.
Dr. Seuss Celebration
Saturday, March 7 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Join our Read Across America Day jive, as the late Dr. Seuss would have turned 105.
Friday, March 6 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Did you ever hear a coyote howl? Join us for a walk as we try to elicit the howls of one of the smartest, most elusive animals in the Pine Bush. Please remember to wear sturdy walking shoes, light colored long pants and bring drinking water.
Sunday, March 8 from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is a great local place to try this sport out! Snowshoes are provided. Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Adirondack Park Agency Newcomb Visitors Center
Winter Fire, Eats 'n' Tales
Saturday, February 28 at 12:30 PM
Join us for a lunch-time campfire program in the snow. Roast a hot dog and toast a marshmallow. Call 518-582-2000 before February 25 to register. Cost: $3/person, $1/person for Adirondack Park Institute members.
Adirondack Park Agency Paul Smiths Visitors Center
Tracking on the Trails
Saturday, February 28 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
The winter woods provide a wonderful canvas for revealing the stories in the snow. Join the fun as we follow tracks on the trails. Call 518-327-3000 to register.
Advance registration is required: Call 607-674-4017.
Hike Cush Hill
Saturday, February 28 at 10:00 AM
Hike Cush Hill and enjoy what the winter season has to offer while learning fun facts about winter ecology. If there is enough snow, we will snowshoe.
Bluebird Nest Box Building
Saturday, March 7 at 11:00 AM
Cavities needed for nesting bluebirds are missing in action. Create a box to put up for the bluebird to use. $10.00 for each box you take home.
Signs of Spring Walk
Saturdays during the spring at 1:30 PM
Look for plants coming out of winter dormancy, migratory birds returning to the area, and other signs of spring.
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Almost the End of Winter
Saturday, February 28 at 10:30 AM
As snow starts to melt and the ponds slowly break free from a frozen hold, we will look for signs of rebirth in The Woods.
Cross-Country Ski Tour
Sunday, March 1 at 2:00 PM
Bring your own skis or rent a pair and glide through The Woods on a guided tour. Ski rental: $2/pair; free for Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve members.
Wednesday, March 4 at 6:30 PM
Learn about Camp Rushford, a week-long DEC environmental education camp for kids 12-14 years old. For parents and children who will be age 12 to 14 by June 30, 2009.
Family Snowshoe Walk
Saturday, March 7 at 10:30 AM
Winter is almost over; join us for the final snowshoe walk of the season. Snowshoe rental: $2/pair; free for Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve members.
Basic Human Survival Skills
Saturday, March 7 at 1:30 PM
Learn what to include in a outdoor survival pack and basic shelter-building skills. Be prepared to get dirty. This program is for adults and children age 12 and older.
Full Crow Moon Walk
Wednesday, March 11 at 6:30 PM
Enjoy a walk in The Woods by the glow of the full moon.