Weather Phases

The science behind weather sensitivity

In their quest to find an explanation to the weather and health relationship, biometeorologists subdivided the passage of weather fronts into weather phases and compared the occurrence dates of each phase with hospital records.

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They found statistical evidence that links increases in the number and intensity of many disorders and behavioral changes to the rapid and frequent weather changes. In various medical journals and in the International Journal of Biometeorology they published some startling evidence.

Stormy Weather

While a high pressure system is generally beneficial to our health, a low pressure system has many negatives. The unsettled weather is a reason why so many people suffer from weather sensitivity. The common symptoms include increased rheumatic pain, headaches and migraine, and blood pressure fluctuations. However, we have to distinguish between the weather:  ahead of a low, in the centre of a low, and behind a low pressure system.

The approaching low pressure system

Ahead of a low pressure system, the wind typically comes from the north-west and is relatively mild. It is the time when the ill winds, such as the Canterbury Nor’wester, blow down the mountain ranges and when even the healthiest person could become a little grumpier than usual. In the northern regions of the North Island you won’t experience the effects of the ill winds, but you may find yourselves in a mild and humid airstream. The German Weather Service has researched the weather phases for many years and published a list of typical weather sensitivity symptoms for each phase. The negative effects of an approaching low pressure system could include:

  • a higher number or stronger headaches
  • a higher number of migraine attacks
  • restless sleep
  • generally feeling unwell
  • increased number of accidents
  • a higher risk of developing thrombosis or embolism
  • infections are more common
  • the blood pressure decreases
  • the number of heart attacks increases
  • reduced blood flow through arteries
  • more cases or higher intensities of asthma and bronchitis
  • phantom pain
  • blood sugar variations
  • risk of depressive episodes

In the eye of a low pressure system

The centre of a low pressure system is relatively small and usually moves rapidly across a town or city. You are more likely influenced by the previous phase, an approaching low, and by the next phase, the weather behind a low. Nevertheless, the characteristics of the centre are rapidly falling air pressure, followed by an equally rapid rise. If you suffer from barometric pressure headache, a headache triggered or intensified by rapid air pressure changes, then this phase is likely the worst for you. The biometeorologists published the following list of negative effects:

  • a higher number or stronger headaches
  • generally feeling unwell
  • blood pressure fluctuations
  • more cases or higher intensities of asthma and bronchitis
  • increased arthritic pain
  • cases of colic
  • phantom pain

The low pressure system moves away

Before it does, we have to endure the passage of a cold front. Cold and humid maritime air wedges itself beneath the warmer north-westerly air, stirring up the atmosphere. Clouds thicken and showers or thunderstorms develop. The air pressure drops rapidly before the front arrives and rises equally as fast after the passage of the front. The temperature plummets and humidity rises. Strong and gusty winds shift from northwest to southwest. The rapid changes in weather elements have a significant impact on our wellbeing as some of the symptoms associated with the passage of a cold front show:

  • a higher number or stronger headaches
  • the number of heart attacks and strokes increases
  • reduced blood flow through arteries
  • more cases or higher intensities of asthma and bronchitis
  • increased arthritic pain
  • cases of colic
  • blood sugar variations
  • risk of depressive episodes

The passage of a cold front

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Situation: A front is about to cross SE Australia. Cold and humid maritime air wedges itself beneath warm and dry continental air, stirring up the atmosphere. Clouds thicken and showers and thunderstorms develop. The air pressure drops rapidly before the front arrives and rises equally as fast after the passage of the front. The temperature plummets and humidity rises. Strong and gusty winds shift from northwest to southwest.

Health: Weather-sensitive people become irritated and may develop headache/migraine before the front arrives. Cases of suicide, heart attack, bleeding ulcer, stroke, asthma attack, rheumatic pain, migraine and headache increase when the front passes. The situation also favors childbirth.

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