title banner
weather features homepagewhat is weather?weather forecastingwhat powers the weather?precipitation sectionwind sectionthe changing climate


weather vane

Weather Instruments & Equipment

Weather forecasts today depend on collecting and analysing data and measurements from around the world. As a variety of atmospheric conditions need to be recorded, a wide range of equipment is needed to obtain that information. Details of some of this specialist meteorological equipment is given below.



Anemometer – measures the speed or force of the wind. The speed that the cups rotate shows the wind strength.

Make an anemometer …


Barometer – measures air pressure. Pressure falls when it is about to rain and rises when the weather is dry. You can see this as the needle moves.

Make a barometer …


Hygrometer – measures the amount of moisture in the air. It usually incorporates a needle that is made to move by a paper strip which shrinks or stretches depending on the dampness of the air (i.e.: the humidity).

rain gauge


Rain Gauge – shows how much precipitation (rain, snow or hail) that falls each day.

Make a rain gauge …



Sundial – is used to tell what time of day it is using the shadows cast by the sun.


Thermometer – measures temperature in degrees centigrade (C) or degrees Fahrenheit (F) using a liquid such as mercury that expands when it warms up. It then moves up a thin tube marked with a temperature scale, and will fall back down the tube as the temperature falls and the liquid contracts. Thermometers are kept in a white Stevenson screen which allows air to circulate but shields the thermometer from direct sunlight. This ensures the measurements are correct and accurate. Maximum and minimum thermometers record the highest and lowest temperatures reached daily.

wind sock

Wind Sock – shows the speed and direction of the wind. They are most often used at airports, seaports and on other open areas such as mountain roads.

Make a wind sock

weather cock

Weather Vane – measures wind direction. It is always recorded as the direction from which the winds are blowing, ie: a south-westerly wind is blowing from the south-west.

Make a weather vane...


Once you feel you know what instruments are used to record different weather features, you can test your knowledge with the Watching the Weather Quiz in the Activities section. 


It is not just meteorologists who predict the weather - people have been doing it for hundreds of years.  If we move on to the weather lore page, we will see some of the more traditional versions of weather forecasting.  You will then be able to decide whether you think these methods are reliable, or whether they are just old wives’ tales.

top of page

previous next