High and Low Pressure

Air Pressure in our atmosphere is measured by Barometers, instruments designed to react to the downward force off all the air above us.  Much like a bathroom scale that we get on to weigh ourselves, barometers "weigh" the atmosphere.

If the air above us is sinking, or pushing down toward the Earth's surface, it weighs more.  With a bathroom scale, if you weigh more, the numbers go higher.  Well, when the air is sinking, and weighs more, the reading on the barometer goes higher.  Since it is going higher, we call sinking air High Pressure .  And, because clouds generally form when air is rising, when it is sinking, clouds do not form...in most cases.  So, high pressure brings clear nights and sunny days.

If the air above us is rising away from the Earth's surface, it weighs less, because it is not pushing down on us.  On the bathroom scale, if you take one foot off, the numbers begin to go down because you are not putting as much pressure, or weight, on the scale.  In the atmosphere, when their is less weight from the air above us, we say the pressure is falling, and that is Low Pressure .  Since clouds often form as air rises, low pressure usually brings cloudy skies, rain or snow.