Barometric pressure measures the amount of downward force that the atmosphere exerts within a specific air column. Barometric pressure travels in terms of peaks, flats and valleys and will rise and fall accordingly. Atmospheric pressure is a key means to predicting weather 12 to 24 hours in advance and has a 70% accuracy rate. Pressure sensors will detect a drop in atmospheric pressure as inclement weather approaches. Typically, pressure drops in front of a weather system and then will rise as the weather systems moves out of the area. High pressure typically entails bright, blue, clear days or nights while normal pressure periods results in scattered clouds. As the atmospheric pressure gauge drops, expect increasing clouds and possibly storms as the atmospheric pressure continues to drop.
As people may feel the effects of barometric pressure changes in terms of ear pain, dizziness or headaches, animals too are affected by pressure changes. Many animals rely on scent and scent is highly dependent on atmospheric pressure. When low pressure is in the area, scent will travel further and higher in the atmosphere but as the millibars continues to drop resulting in rain, fog or snow, the scent will hug the ground and last longer. On high pressure days, scent will dissipate quickly.
The overall relationship between barometric pressure and changing weather conditions results in changes in animal behavior. Hunters and anglers alike monitor the sudden drops in millibars to predict an increase in animal movement. This increase in movement can be attributed to the animals or fish expecting inclement weather and survival instincts to feed and stock up on energy to survive a period of discomfort associated with long lasting storms.
Hunters, anglers and those sensitive to changes in barometric pressure may benefit from monitoring and tracking barometric pressure readings from gauges and at home weather stations. There are several types of pressure sensors and monitors that are available on the market. The prices range on eBay from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars for high end at home weather stations that come with a variety of external sensors for gauging wind direction, barometric pressure, temperature, and humidity. The barometric pressure sensor on many models tracks the past 24 hours of pressure readings that allow the user to determine if pressure is stable, rising or dropping at any given time. The following devices are popular for the climate monitoring enthusiast:
The Honeywell TE923 is a Deluxe Weather Station that cost from $ 200 to $ 300 from Amazon.com and utilizes external sensors such as the barometric pressure sensor, temperature and humidity sensors, UV sensor for measuring harmful UV levels and wind and rain sensors.
MFJ 196RC Deluxe Wireless Atomic Weather Station is offered on eBay for slightly below $ 200 and also utilizes external climate sensors for measuring and displaying barometric pressure changes, wind direction, temperature and humidity.
One of the downfalls of these types of home weather stations is the difficulty in storing these measurements. All of the monitors that I have seen across eBay and amazon display roughly the same information with the same graphics. While the Honeywell weather station stores 24 hours of atmospheric pressure readings, the MFJ weather station stores 12 to 20 hours of readings. From what I can tell, these popular models do not write each data point to an external system or within its memory for long term analysis. Don't let that hold you back from exploring or purchasing one of these weather stations as the NOAA collects this types of data from across the country. I believe you can subscribe to their feed and bring in historical and current data for a specific area.
Spending the time and money to monitor and track barometric pressure changes can help determine the type of behavior animals will exhibit. By understanding how rises and drops of barometric pressure readings will influence animal behavior, a hunter or angler will be able to more effectively prepare their strategy on how to hunt or fish.