« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

John Wheeler, WDAY, Published May 14 2014

Weather Talk: Map analysis best way to learn how weather works

In anything worth doing there are fundamental, repetitious tasks that must be mastered in order to achieve excellence. A musician must practice scales. An artist must draw perspectives. For meteorologists, that task is map analysis.

In my early 20s as a student and later as a young professional, it was my twice-daily task to copy the coded weather station observations onto a map and then draw the isobars, isotherms, isopleths and other lines of constant whatnot. My first effort took about three hours. But after a year or two, I could plot and analyze a weather map of the Great Plains and Upper Midwest in half an hour easily. It became a pleasure to draw those lines.

I would never be confused for being an artist. My handwriting is barely legible. But my maps were, to me anyway, a thing of beauty. A ripple in adjacent lines could be a place where a thunderstorm would develop. A weakening high pressure might signal a place to watch for fog.

Computers do most of the analysis in today’s world, but hand-analysis is still the best way to learn how weather works.


Have a weather question you’d like answered? Email weather@wday.com,

or write to WDAY Stormtracker, WDAY-TV, Box 2466, Fargo, ND 58108

Read the blog at http://stormtrack.areavoices.com/.