Weather & climate terms for kids

Written by neil kokemuller Google
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Weather & climate terms for kids
Most kids are familiar with the term "flood" but may not fully grasp its meaning. (flood sign image by Andrew Breeden from

Kids are introduced to basic weather-related topics in preschool and elementary school, with more advanced discussions of weather and climate coming in science classes as they get older. Some weather and climate-related terminology can be too advanced for kids to comprehend, but other weather terms are more basic and easy to explain to children. Weather involves changes in temperature and wind, and phenomena such as rain, snow and other outdoor conditions. Climate describes weather conditions over a period of many years in a certain region.


The term "flood" and related concepts have been discussed throughout history. Kids are often familiar with the general idea of flooding, in the sense that it relates to too much water. However, the technical definition of a flood can be challenging as kids are known to describe water escaping the sink as a flood. A flood is a "high water flow or an overflow of rivers or streams from their natural or artificial banks," according to The Weather Channel Kids "Weather Encyclopedia" definition. In its "Weather Words" overview, Weather Wiz Kidz notes that flooding is usually considered build-up of too much rainwater or melting snow. A flash flood is overflowing right after an unexpected heavy rain.


Environment is a very basic term that has been discussed in elementary science classes for a long time. Its importance has increased in the 21st century with growing focus on companies "going green" and concerning topics like global warming. Kids learn at an early age the importance of protecting and preserving the environment. Weather Wiz Kids defines environment as "the external conditions and surroundings, especially those that affect the quality of life of plants, animals and human beings." Interaction of people, animals and plants within the environment is known as an ecosystem.


As adults, we understand that storms appear in various shapes, sizes and levels of intensity. The general term storm applies to thunderstorms, tropical storms, snowstorms, rain storms and other storm types. However, to kids a storm is simply a bad weather condition that deviates from calm conditions and can be frightening for young children. Weather Wiz Kids calls a storm is "any disturbed state of the atmosphere that creates unpleasant weather like rain, lightning, thunder, hail, snow, sleet, and freezing rain". "Atmoshpere" means the air that surrounds the Earth.

Hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis are additional examples of storms.

Tornadoes are rapidly whirling winds that usually include a funnel cloud and can cause heavy damage and injuries.

Hurricanes occur over the ocean. They have swirling winds and can cause heavy damage and injury wehn they strike land.

Tsunamis are very large ocean waves caused by earthquakes, landslides or volcanoes.

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