Fun 204: How To Predict Weather The Old-Fashioned Way

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Observe a few key details

Natural observations

  • Air pressure changes
  • Humidity changes
  • Movement of the clouds
  • The appearance of the moon

Most animals react to air pressure changes

Most weather fronts move from west to east or the other way, meaning that one shows the possible future and the other shows the past

If you’ve had an injury or illness, you might feel air pressure changes

Signs that show the weather will get worse

In the sky

If clouds are going different directions, turbulent winds are pulling the clouds

Cumulonimbus clouds (rain clouds) show up early in the day and develop throughout the day

You can see cumulus towers (very tall rain clouds) before rain

Cirrus clouds (wispy hair-like clouds) forecast bad weather within 36 hours from high winds at high altitudes

Altocumulus clouds (chunks of clouds like mackerel scales) predict bad weather within 36 hours

A rainbow shows moisture (usually) from the west

A rainbow in the sky at morning

The sky is red in the morning

  • The red sky is a high-pressure front stirring dust particles in dry air, meaning a low-pressure front is coming

A ring around the moon means likely rain within three days

  • The ring comes from reflected light off of clouds associated with warm fronts and moisture

The moon is bright and sharply focused before rain

  • Low pressure has cleared out any dust to obscure it, and low pressure means rain

In the environment

Animals behave differently before an oncoming storm

  • Animals, especially birds, become very quiet before rain
  • Birds will roost on power lines or fly low since falling air pressure from storms hurts their ears
  • It will rain for a long time if birds are eating in a storm, but if they don’t it will clear up soon
  • Cattle huddle closer together
  • Cows lie down before a thunderstorm
  • Ants build their hills with very steep sides just before rain
  • Cats tend to clean behind their ears before rain
  • Turtles often search for higher ground one or two days before plenty of rain falls

The air will smell like compost and swamps will smell horrible

  • Plants release their waste in a low-pressure environment
  • Gases natural release from low air pressure just before a storm

Eastward winds can indicate an approaching storm front

Strong winds come from high-pressure differences and can indicate a rapid change in weather

Smoke from fire will swirl and descend from low air pressure

Humidity will increase

  • Hair curls up and gets frizzy
  • Oak and maple tree leaves tend to curl in high humidity
  • Pine cone scales close in high humidity but open in dry air
  • Wood swells in high humidity and can affect door frames
  • Salt clumps together in high humidity
  • Odors of all varieties are stronger in moist air

The grass at sunrise will be dry, which means clouds or strong breezes

Bubbles in a cup of coffee will float to the center

Signs that show the weather will get better

In the sky

Mammatus clouds (thick bumpy clouds like an inverted carpet) form by sinking air, which indicates a dissipating storm cloud

Birds fly high in the sky from rising air pressure

A rainbow is in the east that indicates moisture

A rainbow is in the sky in the evening

The sky is red in the evening

  • The red sky is a high-pressure front stirring dust particles in dry air, meaning a low-pressure front is leaving

The moon is reddish or pale

  • Dust is in the air that obscures the moon’s view from a high-pressure front

Cloud cover on a winter night means warmer weather is coming since it keeps heat from escaping

In the environment

Winds are blowing westward to indicate a departing storm front

Smoke from fire is rising steadily to show rising air pressure

The grass at sunrise is wet

Bubbles in a cup of coffee float to the edge

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