The Great Northwest
Patterns of Climate

by Timothy McDonnell
Victor Junior High School
Victor, New York

Hoe rainforest

The Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, Washington

The geographically informed person knows and understands…
Std. 2 - How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments.
Std. 7 - The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth’s surface.
Std. 15 - How physical systems affect human systems.

Std. 3.4 - Students use mathematical modeling/multiple representation to provide a means of presenting, interpreting, communicating, and connecting mathematical information and relationships.
Std. 3.7 - Students use patterns and functions to develop mathematical power…and construct generalizations that describe patterns simply and efficiently.
Std. 4.2 - Many of the phenomena that we observe on Earth involve interactions among components of air, water, and land.

OBJECTIVES: (to know, to do, and to be like)
1. Students will graphically represent climatic data by constructing climagraphs.
2. Students will use latitude and longitude to locate places on a map.
3. Students will describe patterns of temperature change and precipitation and relate them to physical features of the region.

Spreadsheet of climatic data of Washington State, outline map of Washington, atlases, climagraph templates,
Activity Worksheet
(in pdf format).

1. Discuss with students some of the factors that influence climate (insolation, elevation, nearness to oceans, etc.).
2. Assign each student a city in Washington near or on the 48th parallel. Give them the spreadsheet and the outline map. Have them locate all the cities on the map, using latitude and longitude for reference.
3. Instruct them how to make the climagraph. The average  monthly temperatures should be plotted as a line graph, and the monthly precipitation should be plotted as a bar graph.
4. Instruct the students on how to statistically evaluate the climagraph of their city (Part One).
5. Assign students to groups, with every city on the spreadsheet represented. They should collaboratively complete Part Two of the worksheet. They will need an atlas to help them discover the relationship of large bodies of water and mountain ranges on climate patterns.

1. Check outline maps, climagraphs, and the Activity Worksheet to monitor their progress.
2. Show them a climagraph of some other Northwest city (i.e. Vancouver, Bend, or Kamloops, B.C.). See if they can infer the probable location of that city based on their understanding of climatic patterns in this region.

1. Student can generate their own climate spreadsheet. One good internet source is World Climate ( The data can be imported into most spreadsheet programs.
2. Younger students might have problems with the Climagraph. So, they might be more successful if they plot temperature and precipitation on separate graphs.
3. Apply this climatic pattern to the biomes and human activities of the region (temperate rainforests of the Olympic peninsula, and irrigated apple orchards of eastern Washington, etc.).

Return to the Northwest Title Page.