Predicting The Weather With Natural Signs


Image result for weathermanBy Benjamin Raven Pressley


Don’t you just love weather forecasts? It is the only job you can be wrong 90% of the time and still keep your job, right? If you are outdoors much you will not always have the luxury of tuning into a weather forecast anyway. So you need to be able to read natural signs. There are many methods of reading the natural signs around you that you can predict weather by. These are reliable and time tested signs. Here are a few:

  • Wind: Weather only changes when there is a change in the existing surface wind direction. When wind direction changes I a clockwise manner, east to south, anticipate fair weather. When winds change in a counterclockwise direction prepare for clouds and precipitation.
  • Crossed Wind Weather Prediction Technique: Stand with your back to the surface wind. If upper clouds come from the left hand the weather will normally deteriorate. If upper clouds come from the right hand the weather will normally improve. If upper clouds run parallel in either direction to the surface wind the weather will normally remain the same.
  • Sky Color: “Red sky at night, Sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, Sailors take warning.” This is an old saying but generally is true. Changes in sky color should always be taken notice of particularly at sunrise and sunset.
  • Moon: a white or silver rising moon indicates a dry atmosphere and fair weather. A rising red moon as seen through moist air means rain in 12-14 hours. Also, precipitation is more likely three days after a new moon and dry weather is more likely at a full moon.
  • Lightning: First of all you need to be able to judge your distance from a lightning flash. To do so count the number of seconds (count thousand one, thousand two, etc. not one, two, etc.) between the flash and the sound of thunder and then divide by five. This will give you a rough idea of how many miles away the lightning struck or flashed. Red and yellow lightning Image result for lightningdoesn’t usually mean rain for your location. The coloration is what you see through dust packed air and indicates the storm will pass north, south or east of you. A storm headed your way will be seen through clearer air and the lightning will appear to be white. So basically if the lightning is white the storm is probably headed your way. This will generally approach from the northwest, west and southwest at roughly 30mph.
  • Rainbow Colors: A rainbow late in the afternoon is a sign of fair weather to come, makes sense, rainbows generally appear after a rain. However, a rainbow seen in the morning means bad weather ahead. If blue is the most dominant color in the arch the air is clearing. If green is dominant it means continued rain. If red heavy precipitation is on its way.
  • Frost and Dew: Frost and dew develop only when the atmosphere is dry and usually means clear skies and fair weather ahead.
  • Mist: Morning mist rising from ravines and gullies in hilly or mountainous areas is a sign of fair weather.
  • Visibility: High visibility over sea water means rain is on its way. This is because salty haze is dispelled by unstable air currents.
  • Odors: Smells are stronger before a rain. The reason is odors are held captive by high barometric pressure and begin to escape as the barometer drops.
  • Smoke: Rising smoke indicates fair weather. Lowering barometric pressure proceeds rain and drives smoke down. You have probably noticed smoke coming from chimneys doing this, particularly on cold days.
  • Sounds: Sounds are clearer and distant sounds more distinct when wet weather approaches. Wetter air carries sound better, kind of like being underwater swimming you can hear sounds from far away.
  • Birds: Birds are natural weather vanes. They generally perch facing the wind and take off into the wind. Birds perch more during barometric lows because it is harder to fly. Insect-eating birds and bats fly lower during barometric lows because the insects they are eating are flying lower. This is also why fish jump more because they too are trying to catch low flying insects. Seagulls landing on a beach usually means a storm is on the way because they prefer floating in the water but don’t like rough choppy water.
  • Image result for spider web long anchor lineSpiders: Spiders build anchor lines into their webs. If they are short then there will be fair weather and if longer they are preparing for bad weather.
  • Other animal signs: Cows tend to lay down and face into the wind if a storm is on its way. Bees will return to their hive en masse if a storm or rain is on its way. Crickets can indicate the temperature in Fahrenheit, though the results are more general than specific. If you count the number of cricket chirps in 14 seconds and add 40, you’ll have the temperature in Fahrenheit
  • Flowers: Another sign of rain is an increase in humidity. Many flowers tend to close up as the air becomes damper. These include dandelions, morning glories, hawkweed, marigolds, tulips, clover chickweed and daisies. Pitcher plants open just before a rain. Flowers smell strongest just before the rain because aromas spread more when there is moisture in the air. So if you notice a particularly sweet, sharp smell it could be telling you a storm is on its way as it is carried to lower altitudes by the storm’s downdraft. Basically strong smell means rain is on the formations
  • Clouds: Cirrus clouds are high ice clouds 20,000-40,000 feet. Alto clouds are mid-level at 8500-20,000 feet. Other clouds denoted by various prefixes denote lower clouds up to 8500 feet from the surface. Stratus clouds appear as a layer of clouds covering or nearly covering a sky. Very high clouds are called cirrostratus. Cumulus clouds appear as bunches of cotton balls clinging together as in a summer thunderstorm. Nimbus clouds bring rain. Cumulo-Nimbus clouds and strato-nimbus are also rain clouds. Cumulus generally indicate fair weather. Cirrus predict stormy weather. Nimbostratus predict heavy rains. Mammatus predict intense storms. Altocumulus predict rainy weather. Cumulonimbus predict intense thunderstorm on the way.
  • Hair: If you notice curly hair that drops and straightens it is usually a sign of higher humidity and could mean rain is on the way.

In closing, don’t just rely on one sign, combine several signs before making a prediction particularly consider wind direction, cloud formations and barometric pressure. Develop a feel for the weather and an awareness of all things around you.

SOURCES: The Primitive Navigator by Robert W. Love
Natural Ways To Predict The Weather (Without a Forecast) by Matt Suwak (


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