Name: Darlene H.
My Aunt Jolly has a Springfield barometer, and she ask me to find out how do you
read it. I imagine it is really old. It was her father's, that has past many years ago. She
just needs instructions on what the needles mean, and how you read the thing. Can you help me
so I can print it out and send it to her?
The barometer may not be especially old. They have been made in virtually the same way since
the early part of the 1900s.
The hand with the arrow points to the present atmospheric pressure, normally adjusted to your
elevation above sea level. This can be set with a screw (usually recessed into a shallow hole)
at the back of the instrument; obtain the present pressure from a TV or weather broadcast or from
your local National Weather Service radio station or office. The location at which the present
pressure measurement is made must be at essentially the same elevation as your house.
The smaller hand is used to help you determine the change in pressure over time. A knob at the
center of the barometer, over the dials (hands) allows you to move this small hand; place this
hand over (or under, depending on the design of the barometer) the large hand that shows the
pressure. Tomorrow, look at the pressure reading (large hand) and see how it has changed from
where you set the small hand. If the pressure is higher tomorrow, it means that the pressure is
increasing; if the pressure is lower tomorrow, it means that the pressure is decreasing.
David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory
Click here to return to the Weather Archives
Update: June 2012