"It was a dark and stormy night" is the infamous opening clause of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel, Paul Clifford, which is the epitome of the clichéd weathery opening of a novel, and has even spawned the annual bad-writing contest, The Edward Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Prize. However, poor old EBL's writing wasn't actually picked on because he opened with the weather, but because his language tended towards the florid, portentous and melodramatic, with unoriginal effect.
Now, however, opening with the weather has become a cliché and therefore to be treated cautiously unless you can do it in an original or effective way. Maybe leave it for paragraph two.
Another reason you should be careful of using weather to define mood, is that it is rather too obvious to have the sun shine when a character is happy and to bring on the rain at funerals. Of course, it adds atmosphere and of course we do it sometimes - often, in fact - I'm just saying: think before you play God with the weather. Do it cleverly and subtly.
And certainly think carefully before you open your story with something as boring as the weather. Even though we're British, we'd still rather focus on something else. Especially now. [And, to answer a question from a non-British blog-reader the other day: yes, we do have snow in the UK, every year, just not everywhere, not so much, not so deep, not so long, and not so bloody cold. We even have a great skiing season every year up here in Scotland - thing is, normally it's confined to the mountainy bits, not my local high street.]
If it helps you remember to avoid using the weather to denote opening mood, perhaps I should point out that it would also be that old friend of literature students, a pathetic fallacy. And you wouldn't want to be accused of that, would you? It sounds most demeaning.
[Thanks for all your excellent comments after the last post on how/where to start your novel, by the way. I'm glad the main messages you took were: 1) do what is right for your story and 2) quit worrying, get writing. I'm sorry I haven't replied to them all: I am overwhelmed at the moment with deadlines and I am sometimes so tired that I can't find my way to the chocolate cupboard. Yes, that tired. I know I also haven't got round to all c180 blogs whose owners visited my blog party on Sunday - I've done about 150, probably explaining my severe eye-strain just now. Twas fun though - lots of clever bloggers out there.]
Next post: historical fiction. Probably on Friday.