The weight of the air that makes up our atmosphere exerts a pressure on the surface of the earth. This pressure is known as atmospheric pressure. Generally, the more air above an area, the higher the atmospheric pressure. This, in turn, means that atmospheric pressure changes with altitude. For example, atmospheric pressure is greater at sea-level than on a mountaintop. To compensate for this difference in pressure at different elevations, and to facilitate comparison between locations with different altitudes, meteorologists adjust atmospheric pressure so that it reflects what the pressure would be if measured at sea-level. This adjusted pressure is known as barometric pressure.
Barometric pressure changes with local weather conditions, making barometric pressure an important and useful weather forecasting tool. High pressure zones are generally associated with fair weather, while low pressure zones are generally associated with poor weather. For forecasting purposes, the absolute barometric pressure value is generally less important than the change in barometric pressure. In general, rising pressure indicates improving weather conditions, while falling pressure indicates deteriorating weather conditions. [top]