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Winter Is Coming

Posted on December 05 2021

Winter Is Coming

Dear Educator,

With winter approaching, you and your students may wonder what type of weather to expect. Will a polar vortex push temperatures along the Eastern Seaboard to the lows seen in 2014? Will there be a warming trend as there was last winter? People who live in the north generally expect to experience snow. Instead, those in Southern California, South Florida, Hawaii, and other parts of the U.S. will welcome more visitors, despite COVID-19, as people escape to warmer climates. This week, at Maps101, we are taking a look at the fast-approaching winter. 

Geography News Network

This year, as in 2014, parts of the U.S. may experience extremely cold temperatures caused by what meteorologists describe as a polar vortex. This archived article will help your students understand just what this weather phenomenon is.

Geography News Network

Last winter, the United States saw an overall warming trend, compared to 1970. The decade between 2010 and 2019 was the hottest ever recorded. This article explains the effects of this trend. What will winter bring us this year?

Field Trip

Blizzards are a form of extreme winter weather. Tornadoes, hurricanes, and drought are other examples, usually seen in warmer weather. Many people are interested in following extreme weather events. Students will see examples and read about these events in this exclusive interactive Field Trip.


Those of you in California (or those planning on vacationing there to avoid the cold weather!) may be interested to see just how much snow does fall, on average, in California. This map, which is part of our California Atlas collection, compares precipitation as rainfall with snowfall in the state.


Fortunately, in states where there is a ton of snow, people can still get around. How, you may wonder? People drive snowmobiles! Some states even have signs letting people know where snowmobile paths are located. This map shows how many snowmobiles are registered in the U.S.


Discussing Use the questions at the end of each GNN article as prompts for classroom discussion. 


Contrasting Have students read both GNN articles and then write a paragraph that contrasts them. Students should realize that the polar vortex article discusses low temperature events while the warming trend article discusses how, overall, winter has been warmer over the prior decade.  Then, ask students to predict what type of weather this winter will bring in your area. Reflect on their predictions as the season unfolds.


Comparing Using the California precipitation map, have students compare rainfall and snowfall. Do the same areas receive both? Why or why not? 


Making Connections Using the same California map, discuss how precipitation affects California’s agricultural industry. Help students make the connection between precipitation and agriculture.


Researching Project the map about registered snowmobiles in the U.S. Then, ask students to research to learn more about how snowmobiles work. They should present what they have learned. Some students may be interested in making a model snowmobile. Others may want to compare snowboards, which have no motor, with snowmobiles, which do have an engine.

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