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The Four

Weekday Weather Lesson: Climate vs. Weather

Doppler Weather

In light of this very challenging time and with students out of the classroom, the Doppler 9&10 Weather Team wants to help bring weather lessons to you at home! Every weekday Doppler 9&10 Meteorologist Haleigh Vaughn will highlight one weather topic. The lesson will be shared on The Four, and you can follow along at home with our Weather Worksheets! The answers will be provided within the related article.

If you are looking for another hands-on weather lesson, search for “Science with Samantha” on the 9&10 News website. You can also click on “The Four” link on the 9&10 News page.

Today’s lesson is … climate vs. weather! Climate and weather are both things that impact our daily lives. They both take in what we scientists call “data”. Data is a group of facts, conditions, and statistics. In the mindset of meteorology, our data can be things like wind speed, temperature, precipitation, and cloudiness. The list can go on and on! Our data is a whole big list of what the conditions are in the atmosphere. Even though there is only one atmosphere on Earth, the weather and climate can be different all around the globe.

Just think … the weather right now in Northern Michigan is a LOT different than the conditions in Florida!

So, what is the difference between climate and weather? If they both use the same data, how can we know which is which?

The easiest way to think about the difference between climate and weather is time. The weather is usually measured in short-term and the climate is measured in long-term. The weather is measured in minutes, hours, days, and weeks. The climate is measured in years and decades. Most scientists and meteorologists look at climate over a 30 year span of time. The climate looks at the average over a given time, while the weather is day by day.

For example, when someone is talking about weather they might ask, “is it going to rain today in Northern Michigan?”. On the other hand, if someone is talking about climate they might ask, “does it normally rain in Northern Michigan this time of year?”.

Photo Credit: National Weather Service (NOAA)

After decades and decades of studying the weather and climate, scientists agreed upon climate zones for the Earth. According to the National Weather Service, the Köppen-Geiger Climate Classification system has six main categories of climate, with many subcategories. The main categories include Zone A: Tropical, Zone B: Arid or Dry, Zone C: Temperate, Zone D: Continental, Zone E: Polar, and Zone H: Highland.

Northern Michigan falls under Zone D, continental. We would be described under this zone for having very cold winters and warm summers.

All-in-all the weather and climate work together hand-in-hand. The weather is current conditions, and what it looks like outside your window right now. The climate is what we normally see this time of year. It’s the average weather over a large span of time!

To follow along at home, you can fill out this ! Write your name and hometown, fill out the answers, and submit your work! You can email your worksheet can be emailed to Your worksheet might just be shared on social media!

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