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Intermediate-Level Science Projects

Do Clouds Tell Us What Weather Is Coming?

Do you know anyone who seems to be able to check out the sky and predict what the weather will be? If so, how do you think he or she does so?

Observing clouds can tell us a lot about what kind of weather to expect. The experiment described in this section will help you to know what to look for when using clouds to predict upcoming weather.

There are several types of clouds that appear due to approaching and current weather conditions. You probably know what thunderstorm clouds look like, and the kind of weather they bring.

Standard Procedure

An experiment such as this would require at least several weeks to complete. If you're interested in doing something similar, be sure that you start well in advance of your project's due date.


Cirrus clouds are high and feathery, and indicate good weather. Other types of clouds, such as stratus and cumulus, can be indicators of rain or snow. If you're interested in learning how to predict weather by watching the clouds, you'll need to do some research first. Check out some websites or grab a book from your school library for more information.

To begin the experiment, record your starting date, time, and the temperature on a chart in a journal. Begin observing the clouds twice a day, writing down your observations each time. Try to observe them at about the same times each day, and note specific information such as cloud color, type, approximate wind speed and direction, and so forth.

Standard Procedure

It would be a good idea to take photographs of various types of clouds and include them, clearly marked, in your display.

If you check out the sky at night, record anything interesting such as a ring round the moon. Write down as much about the weather as you can, along with your observations of the sky.

Once you have collected several weeks' worth of data and observations about the clouds you've seen, objectively interpret your results. Were there any significant patterns related to cloud type and weather that developed?

With the knowledge you've gained about clouds and weather, do you think you could predict the day's weather without seeing it first on television or reading about it in the newspaper?

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Science Fair Projects © 2003 by Nancy K. O'Leary and Susan Shelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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