17th-century English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon wrote, “Every wind has its weather.” The contiguous US and the southern portion of Canada sit in latitudes where the winds prevail from the west (at the surface and aloft). But this vast geographic area is also conducive to the birth of low pressure systems.
At the onset of learning weather, a pilot knows winds blow counterclockwise and inward towards low pressure. A northeast, east or southeast wind means weather is approaching. A north wind means the weather making ‘low’ is moving onward with a south or southwest wind, indicating a low pressure or trough is north of you. Generally, the direction of winds a VFR pilot wants to see is westerly or northwesterly wind signifying a high pressure system is taking over the weather scenario. But hold on if you think this summarization always holds true. It doesn’t because of localized effects, and mother nature throws curve balls. As a pilot, get used to her moodiness! She will promise fair weather from a west wind but cause gales before it happens. She will have people thinking inclement weather is upon them in a southwest wind only to bestow hot sunny days. She claims an east wind usually guarantees inclement weather, but an outflow from a high pressure system on the West coast means great VFR weather.
If your flying is within a localized area, then you will know what each wind direction signifies. But a pilot flying long distances will want to know what a weatherman knows.
And now a poetic side…
When winds blow from the east
Weather will be the least
When winds are from the north
It’s unsettled, and coolness will come forth
When winds are from the south
It could be warm, wet, foggy, cloudy, or all the above
When winds are from the west
It’s a pilot’s preference at best
P.S We are still looking for an American book distributor to “spread the good word” throughout America. This book is absolutely the gold standard of aviation meteorology. Just saying. Anyone?
P.S2 I couldn’t find a word that rhymed with south in the above poem. Maybe? …It could be warm, wet, foggy, and cloudy akin to the air of Yarmouth. Nah. (Yarmouth is a town in southwestern Nova Scotia known as YQI. Lots of IFR there).