Learning the elements: Weather vs climate

KOIN 6 Weather Kids

A quick science lesson from your KOIN 6 Weather friends

Editor’s note: The KOIN 6 Weather team is presenting weather and science lessons to help serve our teachers and students as schools move to remote learning amid the novel coronavirus response. Click here for more lessons, and click here for complete coverage of the pandemic.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Sometimes weather and climate, which are two different concepts, can be confused for one another. Are day to day conditions like rain or snow considered climate? What about seasons? The best way to decide the difference between the two is to think about time.

Do you know the difference between weather and climate?

WEATHER: The most common way to describe weather would be the condition of the atmosphere (we will learn about the atmosphere later) at a particular time and place.

Something that is actively occurring such as rain, snow, fog and lightning would be considered weather.

Weekend Meteorologist Joseph Dames

An example of this would be a quick rain shower on a Saturday in Portland.

CLIMATE: Now what about Climate? We would classify climate as the accumulation of daily weather (temperatures/precipitation) and seasonal conditions for a particular region for a long period of time (30-year period+).

Think of a few examples not on the list above and share them with your friends!

Climate is not the same as weather because it is a gathering of information about weather for a place and isn’t short-term.

For example, over a long stretch of time (1941-2019), Portland typically receives around 36.03″ of rain a year. That is an accumulation of weather observations collected to project part of our climate. The Willamette Valley climate is usually warm and dry during the summers, with cool to mild winters. Eastern Oregon has a different climate that is much drier because of the mountains.

Here is a great site to learn more about the different climates around the United States.

Now you can go through the photos above and decide if it the photo reflects weather or climate! Give it a try!

(Photos mainly represent “Weather”; however, the snowy mountains and dry desert conditions may represent a climate.)

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