The Weather Channel

Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it. Well Fast Forward does! We interview multiple on-air and off-air Weather Channel employees, showing a variety of opportunities: meteorologists, radio personalities, designers, and IT personnel. This episode includes a string of weather-related Teachable Moments, such as an explanation of different types of clouds, what actually causes weather, dew point, why the "feels like" temperature is different from the actual temperature, the basics of lightning, and more.

Types of Clouds

Types of Clouds

Cloudy skies aren't always bad news. You can get the details with our explanation of the different types of clouds.

What is Lightning?

What is Lightning?

In this "Lightning Round," we begin by explaining how lightning is created. And we end with a poem. (So you'll want to watch it all.)

What Is Weather?

What Is Weather?

Learn about weather and what causes it.

Feels Like Temperature vs. Actual Temperature

Feels Like Temperature vs. Actual Temperature

Learn why the "feels like" temperature is different from the "actual" temperature.

Dew Points

Dew Points

Learn what dew points are and how they affect your hair.

Atlanta Metro

Special Thanks To

David Blumenthal, Jazmine Maddox, Jen Carfagno, Brandon Wright, Jonathan Erdman, Alexandros Salazar, Nick Wiltgen, Mark Thibodeau, Danielle Banks, Scott Frazier, Rogeria Arnold, Scott Kurtz


DANIELLE: And we'll continue to bring you more updates on severe thunderstorms developing across the plains...

Wait a minute; is that a giant cat behind me? I've had it.


VO: Welcome to another episode of Fast Forward. Today we're just outside of Atlanta, visiting one of my favorite places-The Weather Channel. You see, I'm kind of a knucklehead when it comes to weather. At least I thought I was, until I met some of the people who work here...

JEN: I love clouds.

JONATHAN: I love seeing thunderstorms bubble on the horizon.

DANIELLE: My name is Danielle, and I'm a cloud-aholic.

VO: Yep, these folks are really into weather. So let's start with the tough questions. We've all seen movies with tornadoes. Can a tornado really make a cow fly?

JEN: Yes, a tornado can make a cow fly and unfortunately, it's happened.

VO: Cool, kind of like cow tipping taken to the extreme.

All right, enough fooling around. Let's learn a little more about this place.

JEN: I am one of about 200 meteorologists here at The Weather Channel, but i'm really only about one of a couple dozen meteorologists that go on camera. The other hundred, and some change meteorologists are working behind the scenes. They're creating our weather forecasts, working on developing our weather forecasts, and making them better.

Graphics that go on air at The Weather Channel; some are created by meteorologists. Then we have about a thousand people total that work at the weather channel?-people who work in advertising, marketing, graphic design, technology development, and finance.

So, you need people of all different expertise to pull together a company like this.

VO: But there's something I forgot to ask-Technically speaking, what is weather?

BRANDON: Weather to me is everything.

NICK: Well, what creates weather is essentially the difference in the way that the sun heats different regions of the earth. That in turn drives wind patterns, pressure patterns...

VO: Okay, these folks really know their stuff. And they obviously take weather very seriously.

JEN: People around here call me the dew point diva.

VO: Maybe I spoke too soon. But let's see where this goes.

JEN: A lot of meteorologists find it very useful to look at the dew points every day as a forecasting tool. Plus, dew points tell you if it's going to be a good hair day, or not. Believe it or not, you can use human hair to figure out how humid it is outside, because when it's really humid the hair is going to shrink up. On days when it is not quite as humid outside--when the dew point is lower, the hair lengthens.

VO: Okay, good to know that there's actually science behind bad hair days. I just wish there was an excuse for bed-head.

Incidentally, the dew point Jennifer mentioned also affects how we feel in moist heat versus dry heat.

JONATHAN: If you put a thermometer out in the air it will measure a certain temperature.

BRANDON: However, in the summer and the winter people are more interested in the feels like temperature.

JONATHAN: In the summertime, your body tries to cool itself by evaporating moisture off - that's why you sweat. Sweat is a cooling process. When it's real humid outside you can't evaporate sweat as effectively, so you feel hotter. The body isn't cooling itself off, so when it's a real humid day-what we call the heat index-the real feel temperature, is higher.

BRANDON: Conversely in the winter, you take into account the wind.

JONATHAN: When we have strong winds and cold air, the strong winds strip a layer of warm molecules, right above the skin, away.

BRANDON: The winds blowing and it makes the air feel even colder on your skin...

JONATHAN: and sometimes you'll hear about that as the wind chill temperature.

VO: Okay. While we've got access to the experts, let's see what else we can learn about weather. Tell us more about those clouds.

JEN: I love to talk about clouds!

DANIELLE: What clouds are, are a visible image of liquid droplets, or water suspended within the atmosphere.

JEN: When you see the puffy clouds, cotton ball like clouds, those are cumulus clouds. If the cumulus clouds build really high in the sky-those are the thunderstorm clouds.

When you have the clouds that are sort of like a cotton ball that gets stretched out really thin, kind of like gauze, those are stratus clouds. And when they're really dark, they're nimbostratus clouds -those are the ones that bring rain.

VO: Good stuff. Now let's go to the lightning round.

No seriously. This is where we talk about lightning. What is it?

JEN: What is lightening?

NICK: Lightening is a discharge of electricity between clouds and the ground or from cloud to cloud. It occurs when ice crystals collide inside of clouds.

JEN: You get a separation of charges that happen, because these particles are rubbing together.

NICK: Eventually that difference has to be released and that very huge electrical spark that we see is a lightening bolt.

VO: I've always heard heat lightning isn't dangerous.

JEN: Your mom says-that's just heat lightning. That's an old wives tale.

VO: Did she just call my mom an old wife? Then what is it?

NICK: Heat lightening is basically lightening that's far away.

JEN: Heat lightening is the real deal; any lightening is the real deal. If you can see lightening, or if you can hear thunder, go inside.

When thunder roars; go indoors.

VO: I think I've got it. Weather is the result of the sun's radiation on different areas of the earth. Lightning is the release of energy caused by colliding ice particles high above us. And in a tornado, always keep an eye out for flying cows.

Oh, and if you want a shot at working at a place like The Weather Channel, check out, and have a conversation with your science teacher. They can help you get information about internships, and maybe give you a little extra help in the classes that'll impress the folks at The Weather Channel the most.

(END TITLE SEQUENCE) And if you have any luck, we might just see you on a future episode of fast forward.

This content was developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, this content does not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.