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Weather Works: What is a barometer and how does it work?

Meteorologist Taylor Stephenson got this question from viewer Gordon Grizzle.

MACON, Ga. — High pressure and low pressure systems dictate most of the weather in Central Georgia.

To measure pressure in the atmosphere meteorologists use a barometer.

If you split the word barometer in half baro comes from the greek word "baros" meaning weight and "meter" means measure.

So barometers literally measure the weight of the atmosphere.

Knowing this, viewer Gordon Grizzle asked "How does a barometer work, and why is it important?"

Thanks for your question Gordon!

A barometer acts like a scale. In a mercury barometer, it measures the pressure of the atmosphere around you and pushes it against the liquid mercury.

If the atmospheric pressure around you is high the mercury will rise. If the pressure is low it sinks.

The barometer measures the height of the mercury in inches, the higher the count the higher the pressure.

Barometers are important in meteorology because they let us know when high or low pressure systems move in and out.

This helps meteorologists forecast whether we'll see thunderstorms or clear skies.

And that's how your weather works.


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