Admiral Fitzroy&rsquos Scale Words

The directions given on the scales of these barometers were drawn up by Admiral FitzRoy, F.R.S. They appear to be founded on the following considerations:—

Supposing a compass diagram, with the principal points laid down, the N.E. is the wind for which the barometer stands highest; for the S.W. wind it is lowest. This is found to be so in the great majority of cases; but there are exceptions to this, as to all rules. The N.E. and S.W. may therefore be regarded as

the poles of the winds, being opposite each other. When the wind veers from the S.W. through W. and N. to N.E., the barometer gradually rises; on the contrary, when the wind veers from N.E. and E. to S.E., S. and S.W., the mercury falls. A similar curious law exists in relation to the veering of the wind, and the action of the thermometer. As the wind veers from the S.W. to W. and N., the thermometer falls; as it veers from N.E. to E. and S., it rises, because the wind gets from a colder to a warmer quarter. The polar winds are cold, dry, and heavy. Those from the equatorial regions are warm, moist, and comparatively light.

These laws have been clearly developed and expressed by Professor Dové in his work on the “Law of Storms.” The warm winds of Europe are those which bring the greatest quantity of rain, as they blow from the ocean, and come heavily laden with moisture. The cold winds, besides containing less moisture, blow more from the land. The weight of the vapour of the warm winds tends to raise the barometric column; but, at the same time, the increased dilatation of the air tends to lower it. This latter influence being the stronger, the barometer always falls for these winds; and in regions where they traverse a large extent of land, retain their heat, and become necessarily very dry, the fall in the barometer will be greater. Admiral FitzRoy’s words for the scales of barometers for use in northern latitudes, then, are as follows:—

N. Ely.   S. Wly.
NW.—N.—E.   SE.—S.—W.
———   ———
N. Ed.   N. Ed.
———   ———
Long foretold, long last;

Short notice, soon past.
  First rise after low,

Foretells stronger blow.

It will be perceived that the exception in each case applies to N.E. winds. The barometer may fall with north-easterly winds, but they will be violent and accompanied with rain, hail, or snow; again, it will rise with these winds accompanied with rain, when they are light, and bring only little rain. It rises, however, highest with the dry and light N.E. winds.

These directions are very practically useful; they provide for geographical position—also for elevation above the sea—since they are not appended to any particular height of the column. They are suited to the northern hemisphere generally, as well as around the British Isles. The same directions are adapted to the southern hemisphere, by simply substituting for the letter N the letter S, reading south for north, and vice versa. South of the equator the cold winds come from the south; the warm, from the north. The S.E. wind in the southern hemisphere corresponds to the N.E. in the northern. The laws there are, while the wind veers from S.E. through E. to N. and N.W., the barometer falls and the thermometer rises. As the wind veers from N.W. through W. and S. to S.E., the barometer rises and the thermometer falls.