Military Life

5 things to consider when reading the weather before patrolling in the field

Ruddy Cano Avatar

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Ashley Goodwin)

Before heading out on patrol in the field or real-world, Marines ask ask themselves the same question: Is it going to rain? Whomever asks it out loud usually gets a punch in the arm. Don’t be the one that jinxes it.

Ideally, the area of operation is the section of a geographical area where military activities are conducted. The area of interest consists of the geographical area where the environment and the threat could affect the success of the military operations; therefore, weather and climate are thoroughly scrutinized to determine their effects. 

Weather information is widely gathered throughout the field and combined with weather data received from forecasters, thus providing weather forecasts. Additionally, such data on weather enables the military to determine if their weapons will be affected since accurate weather information becomes more vital to the successful engagement of systems.

Temperature and Humidity

Humidity and temperature affect the operation and employment of the equipment and the efficiency and effectiveness of the personnel. 

Whether low and high, extreme temperatures can cause many issues like the necessity for special or unique equipment and clothing, a continuous need for heated shelters and combat skills.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. John Weaver)


Precipitation affects visibility, the ground condition, the functioning of several types of equipment, and personal effectiveness. For example, heavy pouring rain may affect the off-roads and unsurfaced roads by making them impassable. 

From an overall point of view, precipitation that exceeds a 10th of an inch every hour or at least 2 inches in approximately twelve hours is regarded as vital for tactical functions. Snowfall that is more than 2 inches in at least twelve hours, six inches collection on the field, or 24-inch drifts also hugely affect military performance.


Wind direction and speed play a critical role in the tactical scheme. Ideally, the wind of sufficient speed decreases the effectiveness of the downwind military force by blowing snow, dust, rain, smoke, or debris on the equipment and personnel. At the same time, wind plays a significant role in biological and chemical weapon utility.  

It is not surprising that winds intensify the rate at which the human body loses heat by increasing evaporation. The wind chill aspect can also intensify the chances of cold injuries. Also, the rate of air movement is considered, and the cooling effect is similar even if you are in motion through the air or the air is gushing past you.


The amount, height of the base, and tops of the cloud impact both threatening and friendly operations. Widespread cloud cover decreases the efficacy of nearby air support. 

This specific impact grows to become more distinct as cloud cover spreads out, as the state associated with clouds like turbulence, poor visibility in the air, icing, and as the cloud bases lower and increase. 

The ceiling is the particular height of the most bottom layer of clouds taking over 60% of the sky or even more which can greatly alter the temperature and the impact of nuclear weapons.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)


Observation is the potential to see over a specific area to obtain targets. It is crucial to keep in mind that visibility is preferably weather-dependent. Conversely, poor visibility is highly essential to retrograde and offensive operations. 

Limited visibility encumbers defensive operations since surveillance and reconnaissance are hampered, and target acquisition is less accurate and limited to shorter ranges.