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SCIENCE FILE | I Didn't Know That ...

September 19, 1996

Q: What are high- and low-pressure areas and how do they affect weather?

A: Air pressure is a measure of the force exerted on a surface by the weight of the air above it. The average air pressure at sea level is about 14.7 pounds per square inch, and large masses of air with pressures above or below that figure are called high- and low-pressure areas, respectively.

Changes in air pressure normally bring weather changes. High pressure areas bring clear skies and fair weather. Low-pressure areas bring wet or stormy weather. Areas of very low pressure have serious storms, such as hurricanes.

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