logo - Join me in the 1900s mid C20th
The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

How barometers
forecast the weather

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In the past, many British homes had indoor barometers. Barometers measure air pressure. In general, the lower the air pressure, the worse the weather, and conversely the higher the air pressure, the better the weather.

Barometers indicate what the weather is like at the moment they are being looked at and at the place where they are being looked at. Interesting, perhaps, but for weather forecasting this may seem rather useless because one wants to know what the weather is going to be. There is little problem in seeing what it already is. However, if the previous air pressure had been noted, the direction of the change in the air pressure can be established, and that also indicates the direction of the change in the weather.

In this respect, barometers, served a useful weather forecasting purpose up until the 1930s when sophisticated weather forecasts became available on the radio - or wireless as it was then called.

Barometers, though, were rather hit and miss affairs. Ones used in the home did have associated thermometers to measure temperature, but as these barometer-thermometer combinations were normally situated indoors, the thermometers did nothing to measure outside temperature or to forecast it. Neither were barometers any use for determining wind strength and direction.

Nevertheless, in the past, barometers were the best that people had for forecasting the weather from home. There were two main types. The early type for home use was the mercury barometer but it was superseded by the cheaper and more compact aneroid barometer.

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.