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Southern AER

A Quarterly Activity Bulletin of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources- Southeast Regional Climate Center
Spring 1996
Volume 2, No. 1


Over the past four years, Florida EXPLORES! has become one of the premiere university-directed K-12 outreach programs in the nation. The directors, employees, and teacher and student participants, as well as the general public, are now reaping the benefits of this outreach effort. What began as four demonstration direct readout weather satellite ground stations in 1992, now in some way touches thousands of people around the world each day. The EXPLORES! family currently consists of 135 direct readout ground stations in Florida public and private schools, the FSU Meteorology Department, the Florida State Climate Center, the FSU Department of Curriculum and Instruction, FSU Department of Science Education, Early Childhood and Elementary Education, the Florida Science FEAT program, Brevard Community College, NASA Space Camp, science, industry, and technology museums statewide, marine science centers, the Tropical Prediction Center, the Southern Region of the National Weather Service, AMS's Project Atmosphere, the Texas Space Grant Consortium and the international education community via the World Wide Web. EXPLORES! has become the largest single education outreach program of its type in the nation.

The EXPLORES! program seeks to implement the NOAA Direct Readout Satellite Program into science and related subjects classrooms. Project goals include using real time data for classroom in teaching and research initiatives in the earth and physical sciences (many in collaboration with academic researchers), and improving collaboration with and use of other existing statewide projects such as the Florida Student Weather Network (FSWN) and Florida Information Resource Network. The program trains teachers to apply technology in the classroom, particularly material related to weather satellite imagery. Teachers learn the "how-to's" of content acquisition of meteorological data, as well as its application to the earth, environmental, and space sciences.

For more information on the EXPLORES! program, please contact Kevin Kloesel, FSU, Department of Meteorology, 404 Love Bldg., Mail Code B-161, Tallahassee, FL 32306-3038, Phone (904) 644-3417, or via email at:


Tornado Activity


Tornadoes are violent rotating columns of air extending from cumulonimbus clouds, with wind speeds that can exceed 200 mph. The spring season is a notorious time of the year for the development of tornadoes in the Southeast United States. Tornadoes can occur year round at any given time or place when certain conditions are favorable. The following activity allows students to gain knowledge about tornadoes, such as their formation and warnings associated with them, along with safety measures to help save lives.


  A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes.
A tornado warning means that a tornado or funnel cloud has been spotted in the area.
A funnel cloud is a rotating column of air NOT touching the ground.


1. During what season does your area receive the most storm activity? Why do you think that is so?

2. What does it mean if a tornado watch has been issued for your area? What does it mean if a tornado warning has been issued? What should you do in each case?

3. The table below is the Fujita Tornado Scale. This scale is used to determine the strength of tornadoes. Which Fujita Number is given to storms that produce the most damage? The least?

  The Fujita Tornado Scale
Number           Wind Speed          Damage     
F-0              40 to 72 mph        Light
F-1              73 to 112 mph       Moderate
F-2              113 to 157 mph      Considerable
F-3              158 to 206 mph      Severe
F-4*             207 to 260 mph      Devastating
F-5*             Above 261 mph       Incredible
*Scale F4 and F5 are violent storms.

4. Several key atmospheric phenomena may signal tornado formation. Many observations can be made to determine the vulnerability of a particular area to receive damage from tornadoes. Fill in the blanks in the table below with the words "concerned," or "unconcerned" for the listed atmospheric situations which may make you concerned or not that your area is threatened.

  Clear skies with increasing high pressure

Overcast skies with rapid drops in pressure

Large hail

High-level cirrus type clouds

Cumulonimbus cloud base near ground

Dark greenish sky

A loud roar or wind rush


5. When severe weather threatens, you must take precautions to save your life. After each statement circle the appropriate answer on what action you should take if ever in a threatening weather situation.

A.  Stay close to a window so you can keep an eye on the tornado.
  DO         DON'T
B.  If  you are in a car, try to outrun the tornado.   You may get away from it.
  DO         DON'T  
C.  If you are in a mobile home abandon it immediately.
  DO         DON'T
D.  Look for high level areas such as a tall building for shelter protection.
Many  tornadoes tend to be low sweeping storms.
  DO         DON'T
E.  Avoid taking a tornado watch seriously. Listen for tornado warnings instead.
  DO         DON'T
F.  If you are caught outside during a tornado, look for a ditch to get in or an 
overpass to get under.  These are the best places for protection.
  DO         DON'T

6. Draw a picture of a tornado below. Be sure to include it passing by buildings and uprooting trees. What Fujita Torando Scale rating will you give your tornado?

7. The table below lists tornado statistics for the Southeast United States. Which state has the most tornadoes? What could be the cause of so many tornadoes in Florida? Now look at the death rate and compare it to North Carolina's death rate. Why do you think the death rate in Florida is less than in North Carolina?

Tornado Statistics by State From 1953 - 1990

STATE            TOTAL          GREATEST        LEAST            TOTAL OF   TOTAL 
        	 TORNADOES      YEAR            YEAR             TORNADO    NUMBER OF
    					                         DAYS       DEATHS
ALABAMA          807            45 in 1983      5 in 1956        425        237
FLORIDA          1706           97 in 1975     10 in 1956        1090       70
GEORGIA          761            46 in 1974      2 in 1987        417        76
NORTH CAROLINA   478            38 in 1973      2 in 1970        294        79
SOUTH CAROLINA   347            23 in 1973      1 in 1986        228        43
VIRGINIA         228            22 in 1975      1 in 1982        153        19

TEACHERS Click here to send mail for the answers to the activity questions.



Weather and Climate Resources for the Classroom

Drought Network News is a newsletter of the International Drought Information Center and the National Drought Mitigation Center. It contains information on drought and drought mitigation on an international level. Subscriptions to Drought Network News may be obtained free of charge by contacting Vicki Wilcox, Drought Network News, International Drought Information Center, 20 L. W. Chase Hall, University of Nebraska, P.O. Box 830749, Lincoln, NE 68583-0749, Phone (402) 472-6707, Fax (402) 472-6614, E-mail:
Instructional Aides

  The National Geophysical Data Center has made available slide sets for educators. Each set consists of 20 slides of vivid photographs of field research conducted around the globe. Also included is a narrative to accompany the slides, a bibliography, and a vocabulary list. The titles of the slide sets are:
Coral Paleoclimatology - Natural Recorders of Interannual Climatic Variability in the Tropical Oceans and Seas.
Low-Latitude Ice Cores - High Resolution Records of Climatic Change and Variability in the Tropics and Subtropics.
The slides are $30.00 per set. Address inquires and orders to: National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA, E/GC, Dept. 974, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303, Phone (303) 497-6227, Fax (303) 497-6513, Voice/TDD (303) 497-6958, Internet


Southern AER is a quarterly publication of the Southeast Regional Climate Center. Funding is provided by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

1st Annual Southern Weather Awareness Conference

On April 27, 1996, the Southern Weather Awareness Committee met in Atlanta, GA for an initial meeting to plan a weather awareness conference for educators and community leaders in the region. The committee is made up of Resource Agents from southern states, representatives from the Weather Channel, and representatives from the Southeast and Southern Regional Climate Centers. The conference has been planned for February 15, 1997 at Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, FL. Please put it on your calendars. Everyone is encouraged to attend. If anyone has any ideas for the conference or would like to help in planning, please contact Sandi St.Claire at (803) 737-0800. Look for updates from the committee in future issues of Southern AER.


Permission is granted for the reproduction of materials contained is this publication.

Southern AER
Southeast Regional Climate Center
S.C. Department of Natural Resources
1201 Main Street, Suite 1100
Columbia, South Carolina 29201

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, disability, religion, or age. Direct all inquiries to the Office of Human Resources, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202.