Why no barometer?
Jim Anthony, of Mt. Airy, asks: "Why is the barometer reading for the Baltimore area NOT listed in the papers, and very seldom shown on TV ???"
I know, Jim. I like a good barometer, too. I inherited a handsome brass one from my grandparents. And I have an electronic one as part of the wireless weather station on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. It's a fascinating instrument. It measures changes in atmospheric pressure that can signal a frontal passage, or the end of the worst part of a storm, or the approach of better, or worse weather.
I can't answer for the TV stations. We do still include it on the MarylandWeather.com main page. As near as we can tell, The Sun dropped its barometer readings from the printed weather page sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s. You're the first reader we can recall who's raised a question about it. That suggests something about how many people relied on it.
It was probably dropped to make more room for other data. Our weather page - actually a half-page on the back of the Maryland section - is crammed with information compiled by a commercial service. It includes national and international temperatures and forecasts for 89 cities, national and Maryland weather maps, daily, monthly and annual weather data, lunar phases, sun and moon rise and set times, ultraviolet, air quality and pollen readings, marine forecasts and tide tables and wave heights and water temperatures on the bay and at the beaches. Oh, and there's a five-day forecast and some guy chewing on his spectacles.
That's a lot to pile onto half a page. I'm looking at a copy of The Sun from July 9, 1952, and if you subscribed then you got a daily half-column containing yesterday's temperatures for 32 U.S. cities, a one-paragraph, two-day forecast for Baltimore, hourly temperatures for the day before, tide, sunset and sunrise times, a pollen count from Hopkins, cumulative precipitation data for the day, month and year, and - yes - barometer readings taken at 8:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
There was also a hand-drawn national weather map on another page, showing isobars, or lines of equal barometric readings. (It ran adjacent to the passenger, mail and freight stats for the day at Friendship Airport; they indicated 362 people flew out that day on 54 flights, and a ton - 2,067 pounds - of freight arrived. Boy, have those numbers changed! But I digress.)
Even with all the information on today's weather page, we could probably shoehorn in a barometer reading. The more important question seems to be "why bother?"
Barometer readings and isobars are indirect indicators, and arguably less accessible and useful to the vast majority of readers, on the vast majority of days, than explicit local reports and forecasts. I would argue that relatively few readers fully understand what atmospheric pressure is, or what changes suggest about the weather to come.
So, they're gone, along with the daily passenger counts at BWI.
But we aim to serve our readers, so we're investigating whether and how we could restore barometric readings to the Weather Page - maybe the previous day's high and low, like the temperature. If anyone else out there, besides Jim, would like to see them return, leave a comment here and I will be sure our "deciders" see it.