161 Ways to Describe Weather

I keep a collection of descriptions that have pulled me into the books I read. I’m fascinated how authors can–in just a few words–put me in the middle of their story and make me want to stay there. This one’s 161 Ways to Describe Weather.

A note: These are for inspiration only. They can’t be copied because they’ve been pulled directly from an author’s copyrighted manuscript (intellectual property is immediately copyrighted when published).


  1. Evening shadows deepened into blue and purple.
  2. The shadows retreated.
  3. Sun was sinking toward the horizon, the pitiless white ball now an angry orange.
  4. Fading afternoon in early June
  5. Evening sky had turned to molten brass.
  6. Sun still cast a faint yellow light through Slowly gathering evening.
  7. Daylight had begun to drain away.
  8. one-quarter of a moonlit night
  9. cold light
  10. silver-white moon hung
  11. A half-moon rests in the fronds over our heads.
  12. watching the horizon drain of color
  13. The shadows slipped up the rocks as though the world were drowning in darkness.
  14. deepening shadows made it a city of ghosts
  15. barely visible in the fading light
  16. the high heavens
  17. Darkness settled around him.
  18. watching the horizon drain of color
  19. The shadows slipped up the rocks.
  20. Evening was crisp already, the last of sunset just a fading pale stripe in the western sky.
  21. darkening river
  22. the moon golden at dawn, turn purple just before sunset in the rainy season, sometimes has white and black stripes created by volcanic ash, calm and clear sometimes attended by only a single cloud
  23. humpback shapes of conical hills
  24. The last rays of sun skimmed the surface.
  25. late afternoon sun
  26. velvety darkness
  27. night shattered like a mirror
  28. the Southern Cross lying on its side, the green meadow bathed in the humid light of the sinking sun
  29. full dusk
  30. The corners have just about disappeared into the shadows.


  1. black branches that traced the blue-black heavens overhead
  2. far away down the night sky
  3. full moon a pale blue-white disk
  4. night sky dull black
  5. Stars were remote pinpricks.
  6. one-quarter of a moonlit night
  7. cold light
  8. silver-white moon hung
  9. a half-moon rests in the fronds over our heads
  10. inky blackness
  11. Thick clouds blotted out the stars.
  12. A thin layer of clouds masked the full moon, filling the room with blue light.


  1. Sun cast a luminescent glow.
  2. The day was out of sync with his mood.


  1. beautiful, 82 degrees, mild breeze, cloudless sunshine, a day for looking at a ball game
  2. The air was cool but the sun was out.


  1. The wind blew itself out overnight.
  2. a web of clouds, backlit by the failing sun, mist billowed through the trees and over the fields and hung low in the air, masking the camp in a ghostly gray
  3. towering thunder clouds
  4. Clouds threatening, but no rain predicted the 45-mile per hour gusts of drizzly wind.
  5. dense fog
  6. brown cloud that passes for air
  7. a wedge of sunlight bursting past the narrow window
  8. The wind was icy and withering.
  9. Heads bowed against the gusting wind.


  1. Grit grated in his teeth. Dust was everywhere, blowing on the wind, leaving its scent in his nostrils.
  2. as dust motes drifted


  1. thirty miles over the horizon
  2. razor edge of the horizon


  1. cinder dust and gloom
  2. The haze floated over the crowd like smoke from a doused fire.
  3. Sun hanging in a pink haze of clouds and smog.
  4. Fog yellowed by agricultural burning.
  5. Fog began to billow across the road in a great grey mass like the effluent of a thousand smokestacks. The building was only a shadowy form, almost entirely lost to view.
  6. Headlamps of cars did little to pierce the gloom.
  7. The mist floated like smoke out of the cypress in the swamp.


  1. dark clouds drifting over the hills
  2. night was pitch
  3. slice of sky
  4. thick clouds blotted out the stars
  5. a thin layer of clouds masked the full moon, filling the room with blue light
  6. cool restful shady world with light filtering lazily through the treetops that meet high overhead and shut out the direct sunlight
  7. saw the anvil of cloud coming in. “A thunderstorm.”
  8. Cumulus clouds falling down to the…
  9. A light breeze whispered through the trees.
  10. cloud shadows
  11. first cumulus clouds darkening into thunderheads


  1. hold humidity like a sponge holds water
  2. thick heat of the growing morning
  3. fierce humidity
  4. windless heat
  5. It was surprisingly hot. He could feel the sweat roll down his sides and the dampness of the box up against his chest.
  6. Even with the breeze, the air remained thick and hot, and it stills tank of petroleum.


  1. sky as gray-white and sunless
  2. inky blackness
  3. against the fading layers of orange, yellow


  1. shoulders hunched against the early morning damp and cool
  2. fused warm light of dawn now creeping down the summit
  3. bathed in sunlight
  4. gold shadow not three inches from his leg


  1. his breath steaming in the air
  2. Snow pelted his face and he pulled up the collar of his overcoat to further shield him from the bitter weather.
  3. rubbed his arms


  1. A harsh winter wind blew out of a midnight sky. It roared out of the frigid north and thrashed the brooking forest. The force of it bent trees, whipping their bare branches like angry lashes. Shrieking across the river.
  2. Cold was like that, seeping through her seven layers of clothing, attacking seams and zipper tracks and spots of thin insulation. The exposed skin on her face felt as if it had been touched with lit cigarettes.
  3. frigid Friday morning
  4. swirling snow
  5. winter’s naked branches created a black tracework
  6. The sun was climbing out of the deep well of winter, but it was still brutally cold.
  7. winter colors daubed the land in colors of brown and gray
  8. sunny, crisp and cool
  9. The crisp air and clear sky energized his thoughts.

Rainy weather

  1. grey wet morning
  2. rain-swept and unpleasantly chilly
  3. A flurry of rain stung my face.
  4. Cold rain was beating down on my windshield.
  5. The sky was leaden.
  6. The wind was icy and withering.
  7. Downpour started in the early evening and continued on through the night, a heavy pelting of water that thundered against rooftops and drowned out the sound of all else. By morning, city streets were shallow rivers rushing toward the ocean.
  8. Rain ran down the window, the streets gleamed.
  9. rain-swept
  10. damp paving stones
  11. By the time it reaches the ground, it has spent its energy.
  12. windshield wipers barely keeping up with the cold, hard rain
  13. The rain came steady and cold against the windshield and rattled on the roof of the car.
  14. turned her head away and looked out my window, where it had gotten dark and shiny with the lights glistening off the rain.
  15. The maple trees were black and slick in the rain, their bare branches shiny. The flower bed was a soggy matting of dead stems.
  16. The sky was low and gray.
  17. Air was swollen.
  18. the rain was steady and warm and vertical
  19. drizzly rain
  20. The sleaty rain drizzled down, not very hard and not very fast, but steady.
  21. Rain came down so hard it almost hurt, stinging the skin and blowing into the eyes and nose and mouth, but in the forest its fall is broken by the trees.
  22. saw a distant flash of lightning, counted the seconds, and then said, “six miles, more or less.”

People in hot weather:

  1. Heat wave hit, temperatures went soaring.
  2. The heat hit them like a hand in the face.
  3. strode into the dusk, into the stifling heat
  4. The heat smacked the grin off his face.
  5. Burst back into the blistering hot sun. Sweat immediately beaded across her brow. She could feel her T-shirt glue itself stickily to her skin.
  6. I could feel the sweat form along my backbone and trickle down.
  7. She slogged forward, feeling blotches of dark gray sweat bloom across the front of her T-shirt, while more trailed down the small of her back.
  8. slogging across pavement as hot as ash in August.
  9. white dress shirt, sharply pressed this morning, was now plastered against his chest
  10. already short of breath, his lungs laboring as they headed down the path
  11. still wrung out from working in the heat
  12. Take your shirt off. Pop your underwear in the freezer. Dump a tray of ice cubes on your bed. Throw back some chilled vodka shots before you go to sleep.
  13. The semi-drought slowly draining the life out of the grass and trees.
  14. Only 7 in the morning, and already stocky hot. *** had a sheen across his forehead.
  15. Sweat tricked from his forehead which he wiped with the back of his knotted, callused hand.
  16. hundred degree heat, burning sun and parching salt
  17. ninety-five outside, probably a hundred in the car. Not great weather for polyester suits
  18. a fresh drop of sweat teared up on her brow and made a slow, wet path down the plane of her cheek
  19. walking through a hair dryer
  20. The heat slammed her like a blow.
  21. *** cranked the air-conditioning. She stripped off her sweat-soaked clothes, climbed into the shower and scrubbed.
  22. answered the phone while used the other hand to wipe the sweat from the back of her neck. God this heat was unbearable. The humidity level had picked up on Sunday and hadn’t done a thing to improve since.
  23. *** thin green sundress was already plastered to her body while she could feel fresh dewdrops of moisture trickle stickily down between her breast.
  24. Cradled the phone closer to her damp ear
  25. Her face shiny with sweat.


  1. Summer sun remained a brilliant, blinding white. No shade existed for miles and the heat rising up from the baked earth was brutal.
  2. The summer heat came off the tarmac in waves.

Hot Weather

  1. While the mercury climbed to a hundred degrees. Efforts started strong, then petered out. People got hot, got tired, got busy with other things—inside things.
  2. Seemed to be bracing himself for leaving the cool comfort of air-conditioning behind and bursting once more into the heat
  3. The heat settled in on them, rolling in like a heavy blanket and pressing them deep into their chairs while their clothing glued to their skin.
  4. Even my teeth are sweating
  5. The sun beat down relentlessly; even with the AC cranked up, she could feel the heat.
  6. She could already feel sweat trickle down her back.
  7. The sun burned white-hot overhead.
  8. glass exploding from the heat of the sun
  9. vanish in the dry season’s brown leaves

Click for the complete list of 69 writer’s themed descriptions.

–published first on Today’s Author

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Fall 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning


Just for Fun: The Weather

Spring has sprung for many of our readers.  For others, autumn is upon them.  Wherever you are, you are experiencing weather of some sort.  While we as writers do not want to spend our entire novel or short story talking about the weather, we should recognize that our characters — like us in the real world — are impacted by it.

So, just for fun… in the comments here take one of your favorite characters and describe how they would react to the weather you are experiencing today.  Would they hide from the bright sunshine? Would they curse the rain?  Would they relish the wind whipping through their hair?  Paint us a picture of your character and their interaction with today’s weather.

The Importance of Eyes

A garden, full of sweet basil in the summer, now tall, lean stalks, stand rigid against the wind along the south end of the backyard fence.  The wind, cold, it’s March.  Fuzz in the corner where that south fence meets the edge of the back of the garage, a mixture of pet hair and cotton and insulation wound around grass, torn gum wrappers.  The backyard is part cement, part lawn, unattended to, lazy.  Pieces of concrete lay alongside the seams, irregular shapes balancing on wide faces don’t move with the wind, consistent, and would be frightening if it was fall and the trees were dropping leaves and neighborhoods were getting quiet earlier with the quicker sunset and this wind might howl and find its way through stitching.  The man thinks of this, leaning on the inside of his back door frame, the door open, swinging while it catches the wind, hinges whining.  He remembers Halloween winds, how they felt conjured, part of a enormous outside haunted house, created for effect, controlled and penetrating, encircling and encompassed while lonely all at the same time.


The man thinks of this, leaning on the inside of his back door frame, the door open, swinging while it catches the wind, hinges whining.  He remembers Long Island from his parents’  photo albums, the ones filled with images taken during the Junes and Julys, how it looked like what he thought vacation ought to look like and, then, feeling almost cheated by the cold tumbling off the water in early spring, his first time there, visiting his father a few years after first seeing those pictures, pictures taken when his parents were visiting that same beach together.


Well, your choices as a writer are endless.  The key is to not miss the opportunity the utilize your characters’ proximity to an event and how they run that event through their minds, through their own filters in order to help the reader realize how that character, those characters are feeling.  Take a simple situation: A woman sitting on a car hood watching a sunset.  You, as the writer, have a visual and feeling about that sunset.  A reader will, too.  What you have to do, though, to move the story properly, to flesh characters properly, to drive plot well, is to spend time amplifying the impression made on the character who is there.  So think of that sunset and describe it through the eyes of a character that just lost her husband but don’t mention the loss of the husband.  Think of that sunset and describe it through the eyes of a character that just got released from jail but don’t mention the jail release.  It’s tough to be disciplined enough to remove the “you” from the parts of the story where you don’t belong.  It again comes down to practice and then, trust.  As writers we are witnesses and have to bring the news to our readers.  We just have to be sure that we’re reporting the honesty of the moment as the character gives it to us.

Words Lie; Body Language Doesn’t

Why is it that when you look at certain people, you think they’re pleasant or kind, or maybe even mean? Before they say a word, you make judgments about whether you want to saunter over and listen to their words.


It’s their body language–the set of their mouth, their facial expressions, their gestures. Often, these are movements they aren’t aware of, but telegraph so much information to you, you make decisions about your interest in approaching them.

This is true with the characters in the books you write, too. If you write about characters, it can’t just be their actions and their dialogue. You have to show us when they frown at something that happens, when they peer into a crowd looking for a friend. How they use their hands–or don’t use them–as they speak. When they scratch their ear and look down or hug themselves when they’re upset. These are the parts that endear a character to the reader, make us worry about or for them, or cause us to fear them. Leave them out at your own peril.

Here are about fifty descriptors that cover the head area–eyes, mouth, neck, etc. As with all my descriptors–they are from the writing of others. Use them for inspiration, but nothing more (that’s what I do):


  • His voice trailed off; the conclusions were inescapable
  • Spoke in a hoarse whisper
  • Said with weary resignation
  • Hollow voice
  • Voice low and gravely
  • Voice thick with conviction, guilt, etc
  • She asked between bites of calamari
  • Voice cracked and raw
  • Speaking in quiet tones
  • Hadn’t realized she was holding her breath
  • Breathy explosion of words
  • Tone weary, but cheerful
  • Voice low, tone uncertain
  • Something like a sigh
  • Words were slurred and lisping
  • Mouth turned up a fraction of an inch
  • Spittle on his lips
  • His thin voice took on a pedantic tone
  • The babble of talk died at his entry. He blinked as his eyes adjusted.
  • No, yes, maybe, I don’t know—Shit! She yelped
  • I sense a ‘but’ coming
  • Yes, she lied
  • “I don’t know.” Again, too rapid
  • Breath came in ragged gasps
  • Anger crept into his voice
  • Bark out critical info in short, sharp yelps
  • Tight-lipped
  • Brow puckered
  • Raised his right eyebrow


  • hands shaking in a palsy of rage
  • Hands clamped tightly together, leaning forward, knuckles white
  • His hands crossed in front of him
  • That fast-wave women do
  • Shook like the wings of a hummingbird fingers tightly intertwined
  • Knuckle cracking
  • Flapped a hand,
  • Folded his arms across his chest
  • Soft handshake
  • Firm, manly handshakes


  • Worry lines framed her mouth and tugged at her eyes
  • Forced a smile
  • Muscles in his jaw bunched
  • Her dead mother smiled across the gulf of time
  • Long face, pensive and worried
  • Shook his head and turned back
  • His grimace that of a man who’s bitten into a moldy plum
  • Tears started again without sound or movement
  • Smile faded from his face
  • Tepid smile
  • Grit his teeth


  • Vision narrowed to a pinprick
  • Eyes locked on like magnets
  • Studied her w/ a predator’s unwavering attention
  • Blinked a couple of times
  • Squinted out into the audience
  • Eyes narrowed to slits
  • Narrowed his eyes
  • Eyes locked in a shared understanding
  • Yellow rimmed eyes narrowing
  • Eyes turned inward
  • Peer sightlessly at a wall
  • Staring sightlessly into the darkness
  • Stared into the distance
  • Fixed expression
  • Looked at a place somewhere over his shoulder
  • Their eyes met, but he broke it off
  • Meaningful eye contact
  • Risked a peek
  • She screwed her eyes shut


  • Skin on the back of his neck puckered
  • Muscles at the back of her neck tightened
  • Fluffed the hair at the back of her neck when she was thinking


  • Elbows resting on his knees
  • Locked arms


  • Recognized the swagger of a failed cop wannabe whose life had already peaked
  • Walked toward them with grim determination, her spine bent forward in a dowager’s hump
  • Strutted into the room as thought it was her favorite watering hole
  • Turned on his heel
  • Stepping lightly
  • Lumbered down the sidewalk
  • Walk with labored dignity
  • Shambling
  • Walked at her usual brisk pace, the swagger was gone, and her shoulders were slumped as though the night had beaten her down and stolen her confidence.


  • He sat back in his chair, crossed one leg over the other, and tapped his fingers together
  • Crouched by the fire
  • Sat slumped in the water, his reputation in ruins around him

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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