Can you predict the weather better than the weather man or woman on your favorite news channel? At times I think I can and other times the weather person beats me. Radar and other technology helps forecast whether or not it will rain on your picnic, but there are some basic ways that you and I can reasonably well predict the weather. My disclaimer is that some of these methods work better in different parts of the country and climates.
Lets start with clouds. If someone says it looks like rain the first thing I do is look up. If there are big cumulonimbus clouds that are dark there is a high likelihood of rain, we all know that. Think back to science class with me. Do you remember what a cirrus cloud looks like. You might call them mares tales, pony tales, horse tails, or high wispies. These clouds indicate that a change in weather is coming.Usually between 24 and 48 hours it will rain when cirrus clouds are present, especially on the East coast I have seen this to be true.
Smoke from a fire is also useful for telling what the weather might do. If the smoke from your campfire hangs around your camp and stays closer to the ground you have a low pressure system. If the smoke goes straight up you have a high pressure system. With lower pressure precipitation is more likely and if you have high pressure for a while then more likely than not a low pressure system will be coming through and it might rain.
Dew indicates that it shouldn't rain that day, but if it rained the night before this method does not workAn increase in humidity can mean a storm coming in. Your hair may be curlier and more unmanageable, the air may feel heavier, and leaves may curl.Strong winds or easterly winds also indicate possible weather.Recall the sailors saying, "Red sky at night a sailors delight, red sky in the morning sailors take warning." This also has to do with air pressure. A ring around the moon also indicates possible precipitation. If you are wondering look for birds or animals. They usually know and will act differently then they normally would.
My favorite is the deep breath and the gut feeling. Does it smell like rain? It may smell sweeter or like mulch. Do you feel it? Don't discredit your uncles knees or your grandmothers left elbow. Aching bones and painful old injuries can shout out a change in humidity.
Now that you have some tips when you are out camping take a deep breath and observe the smoke from your fire see if you can predict the weather. If you bored at home test your new information against the forecasters, can you predict rain or fair weather better than your weather person?
Free Tip: You can tell how long it is before sunset by holding your hand at arms length and measuring how many hand breadths there are from the bottom of the sun to the horizon. Each finger is 15 minutes, ergo each hand is one hour. It works.