Follow TV Tropes


Weather of War

Go To
"Zeus stabs the sky with thunderbolts...and batters the Persian ships with hurricane winds. Glorious."

"You dumb motherfucker! Didn't Napoleon let you know?
When you conquer Russia, better pack some fuckin' winter clothes!"

Weather frequently affects the outcome of battles. Rainstorms, blizzards, extreme cold, sandstorms, etc. can have a big impact on strategy; it can be used to great effect by the better-prepared force — or everyone can get screwed over by it. "And then everybody on the temporarily victorious side suffered exposure" is a common form of Pyrrhic Victory. (It's also a quick summary of Russian military history.)

In video games, these conditions are likely to apply movement penalties and reduced visibility. For extreme weather, it may damage and even kill units. In other media, and perhaps even more commonly in real life, it shows up in more complicated and often painful ways.

Because it's such a common trope, there are a boatload of sub-tropes and related tropes. Winter Warfare is perhaps the most common manifestation of this. See also:


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Semi-final round of the Tankery tournament in Girls und Panzer takes place in a howling snowstorm. Oarai team faces the Soviet Russia themed Pravda Academy tank forces on a battlefield where Gen. Winter holds sway.
  • One Piece:
    • Nami, even before she got her Weather-Control Machine, had such an intuitive understanding of the weather that she could use it offensively, avoiding storms to which others would fall prey.
    • From One Piece Chapter 0, which detailed the backstory of various characters, there's the battle of Edd Wars between future Pirate King Gold Roger and Shiki the Golden Lion. Roger had only one ship, his trusted Oro Jackson, but managed to defeat Shiki's 50-ship armada thanks to an unexpected storm ravaging most of them. Some interpreted this as the Heavens' will that foreshadowed Roger's eventual ascension to the title of King of the Pirates.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 300, the Spartans reach the Hot Gates and see the amassed Persian fleet. That night, an enormous storm tears through the fleet while all the Spartans, save Leonidas, cheer.
  • The dragon's breath created via magic in Excalibur, most notably in the final battle. Merlin tricks Morgana into raising the fog, concealing the paucity of King Arthur's force and the direction from which they are attacking.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road. Imperator Furisoa takes her War Rig into a sandstorm that's a virtual tornado, to (temporarily) escape the pursuing War Boys. Given their Blood Knight nature not all of the pursuers are deterred, but as Furiosa's Big Badass Rig is heavier it survives while lighter vehicles are blown into the air and destroyed.
  • Master and Commander. A fog conceals the French privateer before the first attack, but also saves HMS Surprise when Captain Aubrey orders his men to put out boats and tow them into it, knowing the French won't risk their advantage by following them.
  • Downplayed in Napoléon (1927). When the drummers at Toulon have fallen, morale is kept up by hail beating the drums.
  • Invoked by the sea goddess Calypso in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End at the ending battle between the pirates and the East India Company. The pirates release her hoping she'll aid them in the fight, but since she has good reason to hate both sides- the pirates' predecessors imprisoned her in the first place, and on the EIC's side Davy Jones betrayed her- she creates a tremendous storm and maelstrom between the two fleets.

  • In 1635: The Eastern Front, a heavy rainstorm completely ruins the USE's invasion of Poland, taking away its technological advantages and nearly getting the emperor killed in battle.
  • The Belgariad:
    • The Murgos use a literal Fog of War to hide their troops. In The Mallorean, Belgarion causes a lightning storm to start solely to make himself look more impressive to stop an Arend army. The storm sends Belgarath and his Brother Beldin running around the world for six months, dealing with the fallout. Belgarion gets quite the earful when Belgarath gets done.
    • In Belgarath the Sorcerer, during a historical battle, the enemy army sends a dust storm at them. The good guys break off a piece and send it down a nearby river and back, dropping a water spout to settle the dust.
  • Inverted in the Dirigent Mercenary Corps series. When Lon Nolan is in the DMC's OCS program one of the lessons points out that large-scale battles with chemical firearms are actually known to produce bad weather after the second or third day or so because of the combustion byproducts and such.
  • In Dune, a sandstorm not only disrupts almost any activity, but was used to exhaust Deflector Shields with tons of sand "bullets".
  • Played very realistically in the Hornblower Saga: since it's set in the Age of Sail, the ships are wholly dependent on the weather for movement, and also hugely vulnerable to storms. A few of the more notable examples:
    • Hornblower and the Hotspur: While on blockade duty off Brest, Hornblower has to intercept a French squadron that is trying to sneak out of the harbor during a nasty winter storm.
    • Also in Hornblower and the Hotspur, Hotspur is driven off her station outside Brest by a powerful fall storm.
    • In Beat to Quarters, stormy weather temporarily stops the battle between Hornblower's Lydia and the enemy Natividad. The next morning, before they can resume the fight they both have to deal with a complete absence of wind that leaves both ships unable to move.
    • Throughout the series, whenever ships are in action on the open sea, they must consider the direction of the wind. Sailing ships generally had trouble sailing into the wind, so a situation where the wind was blowing the ship toward a threat - a stronger enemy, a coastline, etc. - was a Very Bad Thing.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Strange makes it rain so that the mud will hinder French cavalry.
  • In Judas Unchained, the Planet's Revenge is this taken to an extreme.
  • Saruman makes it snow so the Fellowship can't get over the mountain and has to go under it in The Lord of the Rings.
  • In the Red Mars Trilogy, the Martians frequently practice "guerrilla climatology" such as seeding very prolific and efficient plants in an area to drive up the local oxygen concentration, then starting a wildfire.
  • The Reynard Cycle: In The Baron of Maleperduys, Bruin mentions that it is raining the same way that it did before a battle he fought in, reminiscing that the soggy terrain bogged down the heavy cavalry. He personally witnessed one of the chevalier (knight-equivalents) drown in a pool of water. Sure enough, soft ground and a swollen river play a big role during the Battle of the Samara.
  • At the climax of Saga of the Jomsvikings, the Jomsvikings under Sigvaldi are fighting a naval battle against Jarl Hakon and his Norwegians, and it looks like the Jomsvikings are going to win. During a lull in the battle, Jarl Hakon sacrifices to the goddesses Thorgerd and Irpa and calls on them for victory. When the battle resumes, suddenly the sky casts over and a storm with thunder, lightning and heavy fall of hail arises. The wind is blowing into the faces of the Jomsvikings and is so strong so "that they could hardly stand up" and all their missiles are turned back on them "to join the shower of missiles from their enemies". Initially the Jomsvikings continue to fight as before, but when the storm gets even stronger after a while, Sigvaldi orders a retreat.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The hint is in the name of the series: we are dealing with a world of some seriously messed-up seasons that mainly hit one continent of it (one other, at least, does get much more mildly affected — but, it's to nowhere near the same degree). And, if that wasn't enough, there are always the words of House Stark: Winter Is Coming. When it does arrive in Westeros, of course people will try to fight in it. For the Others, another Long Winter is both a weapon and their home-field advantage in one package.
  • Watership Down: The storm breaks just at the right time to stop the rabbits escaping from Efrafa from being annihilated by General Woundwort and his Owsla. It's even implied this is due to supernatural causes. However the storm also hampers the escapees, whereas the more disciplined Efrafan Owsla rally and nearly prevent the escape.
  • Words of Radiance: When the Parshendi get really desperate, they decide to use the rediscovered stormform to summon an unexpected highstorm against the Alethi. Highstorms are massive hurricanes that travel from east to west across the entire continent; if summoned at the right time, the Alethi would be annihilated. However, the Parshendi are worried that stormform would open them up to possession by their gods, and are hesitant to use it. They're right. Eshonai becomes the first new Voidbringers, and despite her best efforts, turns the rest of her people into Voidbringers as well. They then summon the Everstorm, a highstorm filled with the power of Odium and blowing the wrong way, from west to east.
  • Worm: One of the three Endbringers, Leviathan (who has hydrokinesis), causes torrential rains every time it attacks a city. Not only does it cause the defenders heavy problem as they have to deal with the floods that come, it can also use the rain to track down any threats.
  • In Wyatt's Hurricane by Desmond Bagley, Wyatt is a meteorologist trying to convince people that a hurricane is about to strike a Banana Republic in the middle of a revolution. The Caligula throws Wyatt out of his office but the Rebel Leader believes him, has his rebels evacuate the citizenry by force and withdraws to higher ground, knowing that the government forces will reoccupy the city and get wiped out by the hurricane.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Night King uses his magic to send a blizzard towards the Wildling camp at Hardhome, through which his army of wights attack.
    • When Joffrey argues that they should subjugate the North in Season 1, Cersei points out that not even the gods will save their army from winter.
  • The Weather Channel's When Weather Changed History documentary segments sometimes invoke this trope, although natural disasters are a more common topic.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Some military board games have weather rules, such as Avalon Hill's The Russian Campaign, which covers the World War 2 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. The rules depict the difficulties the German invaders had with "General Winter".
  • Blood Bowl has weather rules. In most matches, the weather has no effect, but sometimes players can collapse in the heat, drop the slippery ball in the snow, or be blinded by the sunshine — no matter which direction they're facing!
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a series of spells which affect local weather, ranging from Obscuring Mist to Control Weather to Storm of Vengeance. Even without magic, weather can have an impact in the combat system, but the effect is typically small.
  • Warhammer: Kislev is protected by its leader Tzarina Katarin, who can call upon a massive blizzard against any army that dares invade Kislev. Most of the Chaos Hordes tend to avoid attacking Kislev directly unless their armies are large and powerful enough to survive one.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The battle of Skalathrax took place between the World Eaters and the Emperor's Children legions of Chaos Space Marines on a Daemon World. The battle was interrupted by a blizzard so severe it caused the Super Soldiers to take cover. Kharn the Betrayer of the World Eaters did not like this one bit and proceeded to, on his own, burn both the World Eaters and the Emperor's Children out of their cover, breaking the ranks of both legions so severely that neither has fought as a united force in nearly 10,000 years (and earning him his nickname).
    • The Space Wolves have their own psychic powers which manifest mostly as causing vast wintry storms no matter the planet or the climate. The High Rune Priest Njal Stormcaller not only has all six of them (regular rune priests are limited to two), he has a permanent storm brewing around him that gets worse the longer the game goes on until every enemy in range is getting targeted by lightning strikes every turn.

    Video Games 
  • Planned for Achron. Which is hilarious when you think about it, because it lets you exploit your ability to observe the future for weather forecasting.
  • Advanced Strategic Command has wind and weather status. Some units (mostly planes) are killed if the wind is too strong and they aren't hidden in a hangar or transport unit. Snow changes the terrain and can affect unit movement. Also, paths suffer from bad weather, while proper roads — more costly to build — don't. Output of solar and wind powerplants depends on the weather.
  • Advance Wars:
    • In the first two GBA games, rain and snow increase the cost of moving over certain types of terrain. Rain also reduced vision range by one space in Fog of War situations. Drake and Olaf's movement stats are not affected by rain and snow respectively (though Drake still took the rain vision penalty), and their CO Powers utilize them. As of the second game, Sturm's movement (not affected by snow in the first game) also became unaffected by rain.
    • In Dual Strike, weather no longer imposes movement penalties. Snow causes all units (except Olaf's) to spend double the amount of fuel to move (but allows them to move their full range), and rain induces Fog of War with the vision range reduction from the GBA games. Sandstorms reduce the maximum range of indirect combat units by one space.
    • In Days of Ruin, snow reduces maximum movement range by one space, rain induces Fog of War and reduces vision range to one space for units and zero for properties and fire pillars, and sandstorms significantly reduce attack power. Penny is immune to all of these effects (in rain, she is affected by Fog of War, but her vision range is normal), and her CO Power induces any one of the three at random for a few days.
  • Each faction in Brütal Legend has a guitar solo that temporarily affects the sky above the battlefield: Ironheade's Light of Dawn cancels all enemy buffs and debuffs, the Drowning Doom's Encompassing Gloom stops the enemy from producing new units, and the Tainted Coil's Skies Afire causes friendly units to inflict more damage when they're close to their own stage.
  • Weaponized in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, where the Allies had a Weather Control Satellite superweapon. Believe it or not, this was the most regular of them...
  • In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, Ion Storms afflicted some campaign maps and could strike at random in skirmishes. Not only did they occasionally lightning-strike random points of ground, they shut down radar, aircraft, and hovering units.
  • Company of Heroes 2, taking place on the Eastern Front, has maps with alternate winter versions. In winter, water will freeze to be traversed by infantry and vehicles (and potentially broken through to the misfortune on those on it), some areas will have deep snow that slows units going through it, infantry caught in the wind blowing to the right without the environment to cover them will get colder causing movement and combat penalties at it worsens up to slowly killing them from exposure, and fires appear around some strategic points while also being buildable for infantry to warm themselves by. Temporary blizzards can also happen in winter maps, greatly worsening the effects of the winter wind to infantry, letting infantry be camouflaged in deep snow, greatly reducing all units' ability to see, and preventing many forms of off-map fire-support call-ins from being utilized.
  • In the later Dune games, a bad sandstorm can seriously damage your base.
  • High windspeeds affect aircraft performance in Earth 2150. Rain slows down ground units. Storms and meteor showers, on the other hand...
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a weaponized version in the form of a shout that creates an instant thunderstorm, which strikes down your foes with lightning. Another shout lets you invert this by clearing the sky, in case you want to fight under a starry sky with an aurora
  • In Empire at War, every planet has its own weather conditions which can affect the range or accuracy of your ground units.
  • Endless Legend has heavy winters which occur semi-regularly (and their length increases as the game goes on due to the planet's climate collapsing); Winter start out causing units to move 50% slower and have their vision radius reduced by one hex, and cities produce 50% of their normal food output, with the winters growing worse every season. The Roving Clans suffer even more, as their thin tent-based cities must burn Dust during winter to stay warm. However, Heroes assigned to armies or cities can reduce the penalties from winter.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 5 has over thirty types of weather which vary from area to area, affecting battle conditions in different ways. The weather and its effects can range from logical (Rain makes everyone more susceptible to ice and electricity, Blizzard has a chance of inflicting Freeze, Thunderstorm casts Thunder and Thunderbolt spells at random targets) to utterly bizarre (Cherry Blossom provides extra turns, Energy gives offensive buffs, and ??—[[/@#,, hides everyone's stats).
  • Final Fantasy XII: Certain areas have weather and/or terrain affecting the effectiveness of attacks, usually elemental magic. Rain, for example, will amplify water magick, while cloudy weather will amplify wind magick. Some enemies may have "Ignore Weather & Landscape" ability, which means they are unaffected by environmental conditions. There is also Mist, which can even appear indoors and increases magick power and the rate of MP regeneration by walking.
  • Rain and snow will limit your movement speed in Fire Emblem. Fog, darkness, and sandstorms also limit vision, though that's technically a different trope.
  • During the fight with the Hydra in Glory of Heracles (DS), black rain comes down. As a result, you take damage at the end of each round.
  • Infamous 2 has one mission featuring a nasty looking thunderstorm overhead. This is fortuitous for a player character who can absorb electricity to power his abilities. In fact, it uniquely allows the the player to recharge their super move ammo as well, turning a late game mission full of high level enemies into a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • In Mass Effect 2, the weather occasionally has an impact — on several sidequests, the player encounters fog and sandstorms they cannot see through, on Tali's recruitment mission direct sunlight frys shields, and on the Shadow Broker's Base the player can use biotics to throw enemies outside the ship's environmental shield, resulting in them being flung into oblivion by the slipstream or struck by lightning.
  • The third playthrough of Mini Robot Wars has the enemy machines screwing around with the planet's ecosystem, causing weather hazards in every level that harmfully affect your units. Oh, and enemy units are completely unaffected.
    • Green Fields: A periodic shower of acid rain damages all topmost minirobots.
    • Waste Sands: Earthquakes occur periodically, damaging any minirobots on the ground.
    • South Ocean: Whirlpools will rise from areas without floor, damaging up to two entire columns of minirobots.
    • Glacier Land: A non-damaging blast of wind pushes back all your air units in a row. If your air units get pushed into the ground or off the right side of the screen, they are instantly destroyed.
    • Iron Fortress: "Meteors" rain down on the field, these are actually Mooks sent down from space. If a meteor lands on a minirobot, it destroys that minirobot instantly.
  • This is one of Myth's major selling points. Strong wind can make arrows go off course, rain and wet ground might put out dwarven explosive cocktails, etc.
  • Among the natural disasters that can cause problems for you in Outpost 2 are electrical storms and vortexes, which can and will cause extensive damage to your base and any units they hit.
  • In Patapon, wind can help your archer's arrows fly farther (and, if they're Arrows on Fire, help said arrows do more damage), while rain extinguishes fire but makes it possible to pass the desert.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: The freezing winds in Frostbite Caves, which will start chilling plants and eventually freeze them over.
  • Pokémon
    • Several weather conditions were introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver. Rain and bright sunlight will change the effectiveness of fire and water-typed moves, whereas Sandstorm and Hail (introduced in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire) will deal damage to all Pokemon on the field every turn unless they're a type that resists it or have an ability that gives immunity to it. There are also several weather-dependent abilities as well as other moves that vary in effectiveness depending on the conditions.
    • The move Weather Ball gets power and typing depending on the weather.
    • Pokémon XD includes Shadow Sky, which damages all non-Shadow Pokemon in battle and, uniquely, makes Weather Ball a ???-type move.
    • Pokémon GO: Various real-world weather conditions will boost certain move types.
      • Sunny/clear: Grass, Fire, Ground
      • Rainy: Water, Electric, Bug
      • Partly cloudy: Normal, Rock
      • Cloudy: Fairy, Fighting, Poison
      • Windy: Flying, Dragon, Psychic
      • Snow: Ice, Steel
      • Fog: Dark, Ghost
  • Resident Evil 6: the thunderstorm in the background plays an important role in Leon and Helena's battle against Derek Simmon's One-Winged Angel form, as he will be struck by lightning if he absorbs a zombie impaled with a lightning rod.
  • Spec Ops: The Line takes place in a fictionalized version of Dubai beset by the most violent sandstorms in recorded history. Firefights are frequently interrupted by intense storms which have all combatants running for cover.
  • High windspeeds improve the performance of wind-power generators in Total Annihilation.
    • At least two separate planets and one of the moons you fight on also have meteor showers. Which can trigger units that would otherwise not have attacked yet, or destroy resource collectors. Fortunately, it's an equal opportunity damage maker, hitting player and AI alike.
  • Any Total War game. Rain and wind affect the accuracy of arrows; soldiers from northern climes fight better in snow; storms at sea can completely wreck an invasion. Rain is a particular problem for games that take place in eras with black powder firearms, as they can hinder the time between gun volleys or in some cases prevent guns from firing altogether.
  • The Touhou Project Fighting Games, starting with Touhou Hisouten ~ Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, has a mechanic where weather would change during a match, creating different effects. For example, Typhoon removes flinching and blocking, River Mist makes the distance between players go wonky, and Scorching Sun damages any player who flies too high.
  • Valkyria Chronicles: Certain battles might be complicated by sandstorms (hinders visibility) or snowstorms (incapacitated soldiers die quickly).
  • In the Warlords Battlecry series, various races get various bonuses and penalties depending on the weather and time of day. Most evil races like to fight at night or in the rain (or both, e.g. the undead), while most good races like to fight during the day or with clear skies.
  • World of Warships has the cyclones that randomly appear in matches. Once one takes place, visibility is tremendously reduced, and can have the capability of changing the outcome of a match either in the player's team's or enemy team's favor.

    Western Animation 
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Relics of the Old Republic", our heroes and some retired clone troopers in an obsolete AT-TE walking tank find themselves up against three Imperial AT-AT's. They retreat into a sandstorm which knocks out both their sensors and those of the Imperials; however they have the advantage of having a Jedi and his Padawan on board, who can navigate and aim their guns using the Force.

  • In the Soviet Union, a teacher asks the students: "Who can name a great strategist?"
    Ivan: "General Kutuzov."
    Teacher: "Yes, and what exactly did he do?"
    Ivan: "He baited Napoleon to go as far as Moscow, waited until winter came, and defeated him."
    Teacher: "Very good. Another one?"
    Boris: "Comrade Stalin."
    Teacher: "Yes, and what exactly did he do?"
    Boris: "He baited Hitler to go as far as Stalingrad, waited until winter came, and defeated him."
    Teacher: "Very good. Another one?"
    Chaim: "Egyptian president Nasser."
    Teacher: "Yes, and what exactly did he do?"
    Chaim: "He baited the Israelis to go as far as the Suez Canal, and now he's waiting until winter will come."
  • The Kaskade Region is a fan-made Pokémon generation that heavily expands on the weather mechanics of the original games, introducing an effect for each Pokémon type. Weather effects are divided in three categories (climate effects, irritants that fill the air, and energy auras); only one effect from each category can be active at the same time, but multiple effects from different categories can co-exist. Then there's the special "Strong Winds" effect, connected to Flying-type Pokémon: activating it will wipe out all pre-existing weather effects, but any effect applied after Strong Winds' activation will be temporarily boosted.

    Real Life 
  • The English defeat of the Spanish Armada (which was nicknamed "the Invincible Armada" by the British) was initially a relatively standard fleet action between Men 'O War, with only two ships being sunk by enemy fire. What made it decisive was a powerful storm, dubbed " the Protestant Wind" by some, that swept through as the Spanish tried to regroup after the battle at Gravelines. The English merely returned to port, but the Spanish fleet was devastated — 50 of their 130 ships did not return. With them, went any hope of invading England.
    • One famous quote from Spanish king Phillip II after the battle was "I didn't send my ships to fight the elements". The Dutch (allies of the English), meanwhile, had medals struck with the inscription "Flevit Jehovah et dissipati sunt" — "God blew, and they were scattered".
    • As ships at the time were still relatively small and only capable of relatively slow speeds, and as the Spanish ones on the whole were much less manoeuverable than the English ones, many of the skirmishes and battles during the passage of the Armada through the English Channel were also significantly affected by tides and currents. Also by the English admirals knowing at what times of day the wind could be expected to turn in which way in different places.
  • The tide of battle at Agincourt was significantly affected by the fact that it had rained for a few days before the battle, turning the soil of the freshly plowed fields soft. The French heavy cavalry and dismounted men at arms had to cross a quagmire of mud under a hail of arrows in order to get to the English, with the result that some of them didn't even make it that far. Furthermore, because the terrain and stakes were funneling their huge army into a tight space, crowding all of them together as they approached the English men-at-arms, many of the French got trampled or thrown to the ground and drowned in puddles in the ensuing confusion.
  • The Normandy invasion was nearly postponed a month (at a minimum) except that a storm that was moving through the area was predicted to break on June 6th. This allowed them both a day of good weather and a moonless night for the paratroopers. The bad weather caused many German officers to believe that an allied invasion was unlikely and that it would be okay to leave for a planned wargames (due to Allied naval superiority, the German weather stations in the Arctic that would have told them otherwise had been eliminated). The rest is history.
  • It's a long established Running Gag that one of if not the most effective members of the Russian military is General Winter (and his trusty aides, Colonel Slush and Major Mud). The Russian winter is so severe that all historical attempts to invade the country in that season fell dead in the water while the Russians just backed away from the enemy and holed up in their homes for the season. Even the rasputnitsa (the wet period that precedes winter) can cause problems for invaders by turning many roads into impassable quagmires. The only invaders to have success here were the Mongols who came from a place with even colder winters, among other advantages.
    • Some commanders have been mistaken in this regard. For instance, Napoleon's retreat would have been a lot easier if the weather had not become suddenly warmer after he ordered the army's pontoon train to be burned to alleviate the transport problem. Thus the Berezina river no longer was frozen over and its crossing became a much more challenging operation.
    • Somewhat the same problem affected the Germans in 1941. During the decisive autumn months, the main problem was the rain and the mud which prevented wheeled vehicles from keeping up with tanks (and German tanks of the time did not have necessary cross-country mobility to deal with the situation, at any rate). While the wintry cold was a serious challenge, German mechanized forces could operate over frozen ground better than they could on mud and were able to launch their final assault on Moscow, although it did eventually fail.
    • During the Mongol invasion of Russia, the wintry weather gave the Mongols a decisive advantage over the Russians. Most major Russians cities stood near great rivers, especially the Volga. Frozen rivers acted as virtual highways for Mongol invaders, providing easily traversed routes for Mongol horsemen to the doorsteps of these cities. Coming from frozen steppes of Mongolia, the cold did not bother the Mongols much.
  • During the opening stages of the battle of Eylau (8 February 1807) there was a snowstorm, which caused a French corps to lose its way. It ran into the greater part of the Russian artillery and was almost immediately blasted to smithereens at close range.
  • In August 1813 a rainy bad weather front affected the outcome of several battles during The Napoleonic Wars, as the rains were so heavy that flintlocks became almost totally unusable. This helped to offset the disadvantage of the hastily equipped and sketchily trained Prussian militia (Landwehr), e. g. at Großbeeren (23rd) and the Katzbach (26th), because now it did not help their foes that they were quicker shots. At the battle of the Katzbach part of the defeated French army was driven into a river which in normal conditions was too small to be an obstacle, but which because of the rain was seriously swollen. At Dresden (26th and 27th) the rain also resulted in unusual situations because while the infantry was largely unable to fire, the cavalry was slowed down almost to a walk by the mud, so there were instances where French infantry made successful bayonet charges against the allied cavalry.
  • Another Napoleon example is the battle of Austerlitz, which started out in the morning in dense fog. Both the French and the Austro-Russian Army spent considerable time trying to figure out where the enemy was. The situation literally cleared up by afternoon.
  • Both Mongol invasions of Japan were thwarted by freak typhoons, known as kamikaze (divine winds). The second invasion attempt in 1281 was particularly devastating, as it sank nearly the entire fleet killed over 70,000 soldiers and sailors, the greatest single-day loss of life at sea in recorded history. It can be presumed that after two consecutive failed attempts, Kublai Khan (Grandson of Genghis Khan and conqueror of China) decided that Japan wasn't worth invading, and thus turned his attentions elsewhere.
  • In the age of black powder before the introduction of percussion caps, many a battle was ruined by the rain, which forced the infantry to rely on pikes or bayonets and often put musketeers totally at the mercy of cavalry or pole-armed infantry.
    • Sometimes it was believed that the battles may have affected the weather to some extent, the explosions and smoke acting as a catalyst that set off a rainy downpour under certain conditions.
  • The infamous gas attacks during WW1 success was often dependent on the wind. A gentle breeze towards the enemy line would make sure the gas stayed over their trenches till they died. On the other hand, the wind was often known to change and blow the deadly gas back to friendly lines.
  • The Netherlands traditionally relied to a large extent on the multitude of rivers, canals, wet moats and deliberately flooded areas in the defence of their countries, but these did not help them at all in the cold winter of 1794/95 when even the branches of the Rhine froze over, enabling the Revolutionary French Army to overrun the country and force the Dutch, Austrian, and Anglo-German armies to retreat. A body of French cavalry even managed to capture a Dutch fleet frozen in place at anchor by riding across the ice.
  • The Battle of Towton was the bloodiest battle ever fought in England, would remain the most lethal battle to Englishmen for over 400 years until the Battle of the Somme occurred, and certainly would have not happened like it did if not for the violent snowstorm that was occurring throughout it . The Yorkists fought against the Lancastrians, though for most of the battle the Yorkists were believed to have been outnumbered by at least 10,000 men - however, the fierce blizzard happening that day caused the Lancastrians' arrows to fall short of their targets from the strong winds blowing in their faces and just resupplied their adversaries, and so the Lancastrians charged but the snow (said to be around knee height) hampered and tired them enough that the outnumbered Yorkists would manage to hold on for several hours before reinforcements arrived. The exhausted Lancastrians would soon break and attempt to flee, though to many of them it was to no avail as the much fresher Yorkists reinforcements had no trouble catching and slaughtering much of the fleeing troops.
  • During the Russo-Swedish War for Finland (1808-1810), a Russian army marched across the frozen-over Baltic Sea to take the war from Finland to Sweden itself.
  • Part of Wellington's victory at The Battle of Waterloo is owed to the heavy rain of the early morning and the night before. Not only did it postpone the start of the battle by several hours, giving the Prussians more time to reach the battlefield, but the vastly superior French artillery was greatly hampered by the mud, both due the increased difficulty of repositioning the guns after each shot and the ineffectiveness of the grenades fired at Wellington's infantry behind the hilltop (the grenades would explode as usual, but the mud slowed down or even stopped the fragments that did the actual killing, thus causing many less casualties they should have done). Without that rain, chance is that Napoleon would have overwhelmed Wellington's army with the strength of his artillery well before the Prussian arrived, and then would have taken them out too.
  • One famous example from British history is the Battle of Plassey during the Seven Years War. Robert Clive's forces faced an Indian army almost twenty times its strength and won. Largely because of a heavy rainstorm which soaked the enemy's muskets and powder, giving Clive's smaller force superior firepower by default.
  • The Battle of Inkerman in The Crimean War. The Russian attack began at dawn, with visibility compounded by a light rain and heavy fog that persisted throughout the day. Visibility was so bad that neither commanding officer (Menshikov or Raglan) exercised any real control over the fighting. On the ground, artillery was unable to find range, several units became lost, and friendly fire incidents occurred on both sides. In an inversion of Plassey, several British regiments went into action with unloaded muskets, as the rain soaked their powder. One historian termed the battle "like fighting in a nightmare."
  • The American Revolution had several notable examples. Probably the most consequential: the fog which allowed George Washington to extricate his men from Long Island after a decisive defeat, preventing the British from destroying the Continental Army. A similar fog aided Washington's attack on the Hessian garrison at Trenton, allowing Washington to establish the initiative again after being on the back foot since Long Island.
  • The Italian Front in World War I was subjected to snowstorms and avalanches as fighting raged along the Dolomite Mountains, killing tens of thousands on both sides. The worst single incident was "White Friday" in December 1916, when an entire Austrian battalion (numbering 270 men) was wiped out by an avalanche. Besides natural occurrences, both sides allegedly used dynamite and artillery to deliberately trigger avalanches.
  • During The Gulf War, many of the battles took place in very dusty deserts, prone to massive dust storms which could block out the sun and obscure vision. The Iraqi soldiers often found it impossible to see anything in these conditions. American forces which were equipped with night vision or infra-red optics, on the other hand, were able to spot their enemies despite the poor visibility.
    • On the other hand, many Coalition air units found the dust storms interfered with the laser-guided smart bombs they relied on to target the Iraqis.
  • The 1944 World War II Battle of the Bulge was actually planned entirely around the weather, specifically a thick fog that made flying conditions nearly impossible, effectively nullifying the considerable air superiority advantage held by the Allies at the time. Meanwhile, the bitter cold conditions made life miserable for both sides.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Climatic Clash


Mongols vs. Japan

So the Mongols came over, ready for war...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (27 votes)

Example of:

Main / WeatherOfWar

Media sources: