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The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region
Henry Lind's Weather Watch
by Henry Lind

Weather Watch

A Daily Gazette news blog
Weather events in our region and why they happen

Sinking smoke

From time to time we are reminded of the observations which our forefathers and mothers used as weather prediction tools. While the scientific reasoning behind the observation may not have been precise or at all understood the fact remained that certain conditions usually resulted in the same outcome weatherwise and they were handed down through generations for good reason. Certainly for our predecessors who were much more accustomed to spending time outdoors in pursuit of their farms or fishing lifestyle the power of observation was well honed and a necessary part of life. The science of meteorology was in its infancy and the concept of distributing forecasts instantaneously was futuristic at best.

“No weather’s ill if the wind be still” is certainly a good example of one such aphorism which typically included a rhyming phrase to make it easier to remember. The science which explains its usefulness is the fact that calm conditions are typically found when the barometric pressure is high and the air is clear and dry. While still wind may not be good news for the sailors depending on a breeze the opposite condition of windy weather would foretell an impending change in weather with a frontal system or low pressure storm.

I was reminded of another example of observation forecast when the wood smoke exiting chimneys did not rise but flattened out prior to the recent snow event. Warm air rises because it is lighter than cold air. The smoke was certainly warmer than the surrounding air but the contributing factor of more moisture in the air in advance of the snow resulted in tiny droplets of water forming on the smoke particles making the smoke and the air of equal weight, not rising but therefore drifting along with the very light breeze.

Are these tools absolute or guaranteed forecasts ? Certainly not -- but they are good reminders that we need to use our own observation skills to enjoy the changing weather around us and fun reminders that our understanding of the atmosphere is constantly evolving.

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January 28, 2014
11:03 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Your smoke example might also be a way to inform the public about ANA fronts. I bet lots of folks never heard of, or, had them explained.

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