CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Why Do Ice Storms Occur?

Geography, Science
1 to 2 lessons
To understand atmospheric conditions necessary for an ice storm to occur
Students create a fact sheet and a visual presentation describing in chronological order the atmospheric conditions that lead to an ice storm.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask: What is an ice storm? How might it form? Discuss the possible impacts, both human and physical, of a mild versus a severe ice storm.


Outline the Opportunity


Direct students to the CBC Digital Archives website for the topic The Ice Storm of 1998, paying close attention to the "Did you know" section for the clips "A January thaw", "Storm becomes severe", and "Tree casualties of the storm". 


Have them visit the Environment Canada website, searching the Weather and Meteorology section for information on the 1998 ice storm under the Climate & Historical Weather section.


They can also search Statistics Canada for "ice storm 1998".


Have students use the information from these sources to create a fact sheet describing, in chronological order, the atmospheric conditions that must exist in order for an ice storm to occur.


Next, pairs of students should work together, using their fact sheets, to create a visual explanation of the stages in the development and formation of an ice storm. Presentations might include diagrams, models, overheads, and so on.  


Revisit and Reflect


Display students' work and ask each pair to explain why they created their presentation in the manner that they did. Each pair should explain to the class how an ice storm is created.

Encourage class discussion of each presentation, including consideration of the effectiveness of the presentation and whether all pertinent information was included.




There are specific atmospheric conditions that cause hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, thunder, and lightning to occur. Have students complete a research paper on the formation of more or more of these atmospheric phenomena.

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