In Oklahoma, you can never be quite sure what kind of weather you're going to get. One day you might be outside in a t-shirt and the next you may have to pull out your parka for protection from a snowstorm! As Oklahomans we're used to unpredictable weather, but what causes these drastic changes in temperature? Where do weather forecasts come from? In partnership with the Oklahoma Museum Network, Science Museum Oklahoma takes you into the complexities of weather through Weather Works, one of the Museum's newest exhibits. For some swirling fun, one can step inside the Ride the Tornado booth or see a tornado take shape with spinning vapors in the Tornado area. Play the part of your local weather forecaster, as you point out ominous weather predictions on the screen behind you. Creating cloud rings is especially fun when used as Morse code to friends and family, and find out that the Doppler Effect is more than just something you hear the weatherman say on TV. Be a storm chaser for the day, because the forecast for Weather Works is nothing but fun.
What You'll Learn
Meteorology is known as the study of the atmosphere and weather. Oklahoma weather changes so often, varies so widely, and turns severe so quickly that we depend on meteorology for safety as well as information. Though most of us simply rely on the weather forecast to decide whether we need a jacket before racing out the door in the morning, meteorology includes elements of physical chemistry and thermodynamics, and provides valuable information for areas like the military, energy production, transportation and agriculture, which all have a profound impact on our lives.
Tools and technology like the Doppler Radar are the reason why we know information about storms beforehand. The Doppler effect is used to ascertain wind velocity in heavy thundershowers and tornadoes. It uses sound waves to measure the difference in frequency of echoes returned from approaching rain droplets and receding rain droplets, giving meteorologists valuable information that they then relay to the public when bad weather is on it's way.
Another example of how physics comes into play with our weather system is the Coriolis Effect. This explains how an object moving through the air is affected by the rotation of the Earth. The Coriolis Effect is a factor in things like waves and jet streams that affect weather patterns. Try out the Coriolis Fountain to demonstrate this effect.
Now on exhibit at:
February - September 2010
Ride the Tornado Although Tornadoes are a common occurrence in the state of Oklahoma, we know better than to stay outside when one is close by. Still, the curiosity of what it would be like to see or be in a Tornado is always there. How can the wind possibly be strong enough to lift objects off the ground like that? To put tornadoes into perspective, you can step inside of the Ride the Tornado booth in the Weather Works exhibit. Here you get a glimpse of how powerful a Tornado really is! Stepping into the booth, swirling wind starts to build, swirling faster and faster getting up to wind speeds of over 70mph. Just think of the winds in a real Tornado that can have wind speeds up to 300mph or more! You might want to hold on to your hats!
If you were to shoot a cannon north from the equator toward the north pole, shooting straight at a target directly in front of you that is 75 miles away and taking into consideration that the earth rotates east, according to the Coriolis Effect would the cannon ball land to the right (east) or the left (west) of the target?