You’re about to hop on a plane for a distant land, and like many people, you might head to your computer to check the weather to see what’s forecasted for your trip: 50 degree temperatures under fair skies. You “get” the temperature part, but what exactly does it mean by fair skies? Sounds innocuous enough, but should you pack anything extra?
We hear many descriptive terms used for a weather forecast. Some are terms we know (wind, chance of rain, snow), but others can be shrouded in a bit of mystery. We sort of know what they mean. Blizzard is a great example: We know it involves snow and wind, but not necessarily the specifics. Here’s the official definition: large amounts of snow or blowing snow, 35 mph winds, with a visibility of 1/4 mile or less, for a duration of 3 hours or more.
Fair skies is another example. Believe it or not, this term is more than just a descriptive one; it too has an official definition. (Check out more weather terms here!).
First, understand that your basic weather forecast includes the following 5 weather elements: precipitation, probability of precipitation, temperature, wind, and sky condition.
Sky condition refers to the amount of cloud cover overhead. Sky conditions are an important part of the weather equation and, along with the other 4 weather elements, provide the full local forecast picture so you and your family can plan accordingly.
Here’s how the National Weather Service defines each of the sky condition terms you often hear:
|Terminology||Average Sky Cover|
|Fair||Less than 40% cloud cover, no precipitation and no extreme weather|
So, hearing “fair skies” lets you know how much blue sky you are likely to see. It has no bearing on what the temperature is outside — that’s a separate weather element. In fact, you can have “fair skies” whether the temperature is 24° F or 84° F.
So, now you’re in the know! Is there another weather term you aren’t sure about? Ask us here!
The Farmers’ Almanac provides 16 months of long-range weather forecasts. Access our weather online!