National Geographic : 1888 Oct
42 National GeographicMagazine. great elliptical area to the southwestward. The circulation of the wind about these areas of low barometer, and the correspond ing changes of temperature, are indicated graphically on the map: the isobars, or lines of equal barometric pressure, are, as a rule, somewhat circular in form, and the winds blow about and away from an area of "high" in a direction with the hands of a watch (in nautical parlance, "with the sun "), toward and about "low" with an opposite rotary motion, or against the hands of a watch; in front of a " low " there will therefore be, in extra tropi cal latitudes, warm southeasterly winds, and behind it cold north westerly winds, the resulting changes of temperature being shown by the isotherms, or lines of equal temperature. Moreover, in a cyclonic system of this kind the westerly winds are generally far stronger than the easterly winds, the motion of the whole system from west to east increasing the apparent force of the former and decreasing that of the latter. Upon reaching the coast, such areas of low barometer, or storm systems, almost invariably develop a great increase of energy, largely due to the moisture in the atmosphere overhanging the ocean, which, when the air is chilled by contact with the cold dry air rushing in from the "high,".is precipitated and becomes visible in the form of clouds, with rain or snow. The latent heat liberated by the condensa tion of this aqueous vapor plays a most important part in the continuance of the storm's energy and, indeed, in its increase of energy: the warm light air flowing in towards the central area of the storm rises rapidly into regions where the pressure is less, that is, where the thickness and consequently the weight of the superincumbent atmosphere is less; it therefore rapidly expands, and such expansion would result in a much more rapid cooling, and a corresponding decrease in its tendency to rise still higher, were it not for the latent heat liberated by the condensation of the moisture which it contains. Thus the forces that are con spiring to increase the energy of the storm are powerfully assisted by the presence and condensation of aqueous vapor, and the increasing updraught and rarefaction are at once marked by the decreasing barometric pressure at the center. For example, a storm was central over the Great Lakes on Jan. 25th, with lowest barometer 29.7; the following day it was central off Nan tucket, barometer 29.2; and on the 27th and 28th, over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with barometer below 28.6. But such instances are so common as to make it the rule, and not the exception.