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Florence leaves massive destruction. Online courses can help explain why


Free videos on the weather promise to make even the neophyte better informed on atmospheric events.

Hurricane Florence has claimed more than 30 lives in the Eastern United States, and Typhoon Mangkhut killed dozens in the Philippines and Southern China.

But what are the differences between a hurricane and a typhoon — or a tornado and a cyclone?

This might be a good time to find out these and other facts by taking a free online course. The curious have several options.

Watching the Weather, from OpenLearn, describes how meteorological observations are made looking upwards from the surface of the Earth, looking downwards from satellites in space and from aircraft and balloons within the atmosphere. The course promises to help the learner gain general knowledge and understanding of some of the basic facts, concepts, scientific principles and language relating to meteorology and weather forecasting.

Gary England, an award-winning meteorologist, and the University of Oklahoma have collaborated to create two series about the weather. England takes the viewer through discussions of weather patterns and events, the fundamentals of weather, the history of weather forecasting, and the technology used by meteorology professionals.

For a slightly different perspective, a U.K.-based course offers insight into why the British Isles get the particular weather they get.

In any case, if bad weather is coming your way, it might be a good day to stay inside and learn why, by watching one of these free courses.

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