What Are Meteorological Parameters?

The weather forecast you hear in your daily news is enough to tell you whether or not you need a raincoat and umbrella.

With many meteorological parameters to consider, the forecaster can provide a detailed prediction of what the weather will be like in the future.

When preparing weather forecasts, several pieces of information are reviewed. This information includes items such as what the meteorological parameters will be like, what type of precipitation you can expect, what wind speeds and temperatures you can expect, and how cloudy it will be. 

When minutes matter, communities need real-time data and comprehensive forecasts. WeatherSentry is trusted by emergency management agencies and first responders when tracking and preparing for catastrophic weather events.

This article will outline the most common meteorological parameters and how they are essential in accurately preparing for any weather.

Heavy Clouds

Common meteorological parameters

Meteorological parameters can be divided into two subgroups – weather and atmosphere.

Standard meteorological parameters include :

  • Temperature and Humidity
  • Wind speed and direction (speed, height)
  • Air density
  • Precipitation
  • Pressure/Barometric pressure

The following sections provide additional detail on these parameters.

Temperature and humidity
Temperature and humidity play a significant role in weather forecasts. Unfortunately, as recent heatwaves have shown, temperature and humidity can potentially be a deadly combination.

Wind speed and direction
Wind speed is a crucial meteorological parameter that you commonly see on the news. We use it to tell us if it will be a calm day or if we need to prepare for high winds, such as during a hurricane.

Wind direction is essential, especially in larger metropolitan areas, because the direction the wind is coming from can cause a large amount of destruction to one place while not affecting an entire neighborhood.

The same goes for when trying to track what type of weather event may be headed your way.

Air density
Air density is a meteorological parameter that tells us what the air pressure will be.

Air pressure, in turn, can tell us what type of weather event we may have headed our way and how much destruction it could cause to an area if, for example, there was a tornado involved.

You may need your umbrella in the morning if you see precipitation coming your way. Whether it is snow, rain, or hail, you need to know what dangers may be present.

Meteorologists will also forecast the accumulated amount of precipitation, which can be extremely helpful to emergency responders. In addition, knowing the expected road conditions will affect routes and the types of emergencies to expect.

Barometric pressure
To predict the weather, meteorologists must first understand how atmospheric pressure works. The higher the barometric pressure, the better it is for good weather conditions. Conversely, low pressures generally bring in more clouds and moisture, leading to poor visibility and even precipitation or snowfall.

Solar radiation
The amount of solar radiation coming into the Earth’s atmosphere determines what type of conditions are present. For example, cold temperatures can be expected with no sun, which means clouds and snow will stay in place for more extended periods than if it were warmer.

Water vapor mixing ratio
The water vapor mixing ratio is what determines what types of clouds and precipitation we can expect. If the air has a lot of vapor, it is more likely that showers or thunderstorms will develop than if not much moisture is present.

Car stuck in flooded street

Flooding parameters

One threat to public safety is flooding, which has its own set of parameters to measure. Those are:

  • tide prediction,
  • water level, and
  • wave height.

Tide prediction
Tide prediction is what allows water managers to plan for the release of reservoir capacity.

Water level
A second parameter that measures flooding is the gauge of how high, above or below, the stream’s normal level the water has risen. Typically an automated gauge linked to telemetry equipment via satellite and radio measures the water levels at specific locations along rivers..

Wave height
The final parameter is the wave height. Higher wave heights have the potential to cause a lot of damage to personal property and infrastructure.


Looking at the whole picture

Meteorologists know what is “normal” in the weather for the area and time of year. When one of these parameters deviates, meteorologists pay attention.

However, it is more than looking at all of these parameters individually. Looking at these composite conditions as one report can give a fuller story of what to expect.

Let’s use one example: precipitation and temperature.

Combined with precipitation, temperature also plays a significant role in developing what meteorologists call “convective hazards” such as thunderstorms or tornadoes.

In fact, the National Weather Service classifies a thunderstorm as “severe” when the following are found: 

  • hail at least one-inch, 
  • wind speeds over 50 knots (57.5 mph), ot
  • a tornado.


Weather forecasts and public safety

Emergency management professionals are entrusted with keeping the public safe from various threats, yet 78% of disasters in the United States each year are weather-related.

Misinformation can run rampant, and citizens will be looking to you for accurate answers. It is a weighty responsibility, and the wrong information can cost you your credibility.

Recent examples have proven that the weather can change rapidly, and without a clear picture, emergency management personnel can be left unprepared. Having the information and expert analysis to track and prepare for severe weather can save lives.

Mother nature will not wait for you to be prepared for her plans. You know the importance of having accurate, accessible, and cost-effective weather insights to support your plans and provide answers to your stakeholders.

With WeatherSentry, that information is at your fingertips. Our climatologists and meteorologists look at thousands of data points and deliver precise weather information to you in an accessible, map-based format that you can share with your superiors and the public.

WeatherSentry provides actionable insights that allow public safety professionals, emergency management agencies, and first responders to track and prepare for severe weather. Get the details you need on lightning detection, flood levels, and more.