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Green Scene: Weather or Not

This week, Lake Hopatcong has seen a little bit of everything Mother Nature has to offer in the summertime—sometimes in the span of a few minutes. Bright sun, pouring rain, violent storms, heavy breeze, stillness, humid heat…we’ve seen it all. 

We’ve all heard the adages, such as “Red in the morning, sailors take warning; red at night, sailors’ delight,” and many of us learned about clouds and barometric pressure in high school earth science class.  But for those who need a refresher, here’s a primer on how to make your own forecast based on the weather around you.

CLOUDS:

Wispy, white clouds (cirrus) are associated with stable air. The smaller and higher up they are, the longer it will take for the weather to change.  They almost always move from west to east, regardless of the wind direction.

Broad patterns of white, wool-like clouds (cirro-cumulus) that ripple across the sky usually forecast warm, dry weather in the near term, with precipitation holding off for at least 24 hours.

You might be able to see the sun or moon through a layer of altostratus clouds, which are gray and cover the whole sky. Those usually indicate storms are coming.

A thick sheet of gray clouds (cirro-stratus) indicate dull and rainy weather, especially if there’s a steady wind.  The thicker the clouds, the greater a chance of drizzly weather.

Big, lower, puffy, cottonball clouds (cumulus) are fair-weather indicators until they start to develop vertically. But as they move across a blue sky, you can generally count on the weather to stay pleasant.

Once those cumulous clouds build vertically into an anvil-shaped tower of moisture (cumulonimbus), storms are brewing, and keep a close watch on which direction they’re moving.

Altocumulus clouds, which are gray and puffy, will often roll into the area in waves in the morning, preceding an afternoon thunderstorm.

BAROMETRIC PRESSURE:

As air descends, it warms, and as it rises, it cools, and high pressure (descending air) usually means good weather, and low pressure (rising air) usually indicates bad weather, in the form of rain, snow, ice, or hail.

So if the barometer is rising, expect the weather to be fair; if it’s falling, be prepared for precipitation.

WIND:

As with all things weather related, there are some exceptions to these rules.  But here are some basic indicators when it comes to the wind and weather forecasting:

-Winds shifting to the west (meaning they’re coming from the west) indicate fair or clearing weather, and winds shifting to the east, coupled with falling barometric pressure, indicate bad weather.

-If the wind is coming from the south or southeast and the barometer is falling, a storm is likely coming from the west or northwest.

-If the wind is coming from east to northeast and the barometer is falling, a storm is likely coming from the south or southwest.

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