I love the wide open Texas skies that surround my house. At any given time I can view miles and miles of sky in any direction. Even when I am in town I can see a storm front on the horizon, one that might not even arrive here until evening.
At night I can watch the spectacular lightening show of an impeding storm. No sign of its presence for hours except for the jagged streams of light that dance across the sky on the horizon. Sometimes I can walk outside and just wait for the signs that the storm is almost upon me. I can sit unseen, darkness my cloak, as I listen for the distant sounds of thunder. Slowly, the wind begins to whirl around me with sounds of rumbling growing louder overhead giving me plenty of warning before the first drops of rain splatter against my upturned face.
No storm has ever snuck up on me while living in the Texas Panhandle. Some move quicker than others, but you know they are coming. That is why as a writer it unnerves me to read someones description of the Texas skies, whether it be the present or one hundred years ago, as some sort of silent stalker. It's difficult to stalk across hundreds of miles of open sky without someone noticing. Even if that storm builds right over you there is no missing it with no trees or tall buildings barring the view.
It kind of reminds me of those Hollywood movies where the setting is supposed to be Montana, yet when the actor drives along the highway you see Palm trees dotting the road. This drives me crazy. Who are they fooling?
Which brings me to my point. Whether you write historical or in the present what are some things you do to research your setting to make sure it come across as authentic? I myself tend to stick to writing about places I've been, but maybe not everyone does. Is there ways to get around that or will your reader not be fooled and know right away you've never walked along a crest in the Scotland Highlands?