Modern weather forecasting is sometimes unreliable as the weatherman keeps giving wrong weather predictions. It seems computer-generated predictions and nature are out of sync, and in survival situation weather forecasts might also be unavailable.
During the old days, our grandparents and great-grandparents could still predict whether rain was about to fall, and they were relatively correct, as attested to the bounty harvest they used to get. The only way they could enjoy a good harvest is if they planted at the right time, and this requires a degree of weather prediction skills which they definitely had. They could read the sky in different ways. Also sailors were and most still are quite good to determine what kind of weather is coming just looking for clouds. Nature gives logically very clear marks what is coming when weather is changing. Some of these ways are described below, and those could be utilized when you are in the wilderness.
Predicting the Weather without any modern instruments is essential skill for any survivalist as you really don’t want to be in the middle of thunderstorm or torrential rain by surprise – especially if you are in harsh environment such as at mountains or desert. Ability to predict weather gives you time to find cover and get ready for what ever comes.
Generally clouds are the most reliable natural indication about what kind of weather is coming. There are plenty of different kind of clouds and formations. Those form in different altitudes and in different humidity conditions, making them direct visual mark of changing weather. Therefore you should learn to recognize at least the most common clouds, and what those means.
Cumulonimbus clouds, as seen below, are traditionally regarded as thunderstorm-associated clouds and their appearance in the day indicates a coming thunderstorm. Sometimes, mammatus clouds could form underneath the cumulonimbus clouds, but on their own, mammatus clouds are regarded as indications that rain is about to fall within 24 hours.
Presence of cirrus clouds indicates that rain can fall within 36 hours. Another cloud formation that indicates rain can fall in the next 36 hours is the altocumulus cloud.
Cumulus towers, as seen below, resemble an explosion pattern high up in the sky, and these clouds indicate that light rains can fall within 12 hours.
Nimbostratus clouds means it is going to start rain at any moment
Another cloud category that indicates impeding rainfall is the nimbostratus cloud, which is even called rain clouds, and its appearance is a sure sign that rain is just about to fall.
Cirrocumulus clouds means colder clear weather
The cirrocumulus clouds are not associated with rainfall, and their appearance indicates that the weather with be cold. The reason these clouds are not associated with rain is because they are perched high up in the sky, about 9,000meters above sea level.
As a general rule, the higher up the clouds, the less likely it is to rain; or in other terms, the higher up the clouds, the more likely the weather will be fair.
Predicting Weather By Analyzing The Sky
If the sky appears red during sunset, then it means that there are lots of dust particles suspended in the air. This can only occur if the winds are strong enough to throw dust into the air and prevent them from settling down. These winds are also violent because they cannot allow dust to settle, and this creates an upward air current that generates a high-pressure zone within its center and a low pressure region immediately in front of it. Consequently, the low pressure region acts a relative vacuum that sucks the wind into it, and in this way wind is propelled forward, with the speed increasing as the winds creates more low-pressure zones immediately in-front of itself.
Also, strong air currents accelerate water evaporation, with the water vapor condensing high as clouds which later fall as rain. Therefore strong winds appear as a precursor to rainfall. Therefore, a red dusty sky at sunset means that wind is approaching the observer, with rain likely to fall later on. However, if the observer sees a red dusty sky at sunrise, it means wind has passed over the area, and it is likely to rain soon as the clouds are approaching the area.
Rainbows also have a predictive value. If rainbow appears in the east, it indicates an impeding rainfall, while rainbow that appears to the west indicates that rain has just ended.
During the old days, if the moon had a ring when observed at night, then the people expected rain fall within the next 72 hours.
Below are some excellent book you can use to learn weather forecasting.
Smell of the Earth and flowers can be used to predict weather
This relies on how sensitive the smell sense of a person is. Generally, if one could smell the earth when taking a deep breath, then it indicates that the air impregnated with large quantities of moisture, and this means that more water vapor is condensing as clouds. Therefore, a person can expect rainfall within 12 hours. Also, if the flower smell is stronger than normal, then expect rain within 12 hours.
Observing behavior of animals could help predict coming weather
Birds only fly high when the weather is fair. Flying bats also indicates a fair weather. However, when rain is about to fall, animals and insects start moving towards their abode, with spiders moving down along their webs.
There are many observable things that can not directly to be connected to weather changes, however many people believe these are marks of changing weather. For example, sometimes cat clean their ears, while cows crowd together and lie down and frogs crock louder when rain is bout to fall. At times, ants build steeper walls in their anthill if rain is about to fall. In some instances, dogs chew grass when rain clouds are arriving. One can also estimate the day or night temperature by counting the cricket chirps. This is done by counting the number of chirps made in 14 seconds. To this count is added 40, and one gets a close approximation of the daily temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.
Miscellaneous tips & tricks
Morning dew indicates that day will have a fair weather. However, three consecutive dew-less mornings indicate that a storm is approaching. However, if there is dew at midnight and then it evaporates before daybreak, then the day will have a fair weather.
If fire is lighted in the open and smoke rises straight up, then the weather will be fair for that day. However, the the smoke swirls around and curls in no particular pattern, then rain is likely to fall. If it rains prior to 0700hours, then by 1100hours, the sky will have cleared.
If you don’t trust yet your ability to read nature, you can always use some instruments. A old school barometer can help predict the weather, with high pressure readings indicating a possible rainy day while low pressure readings predict a fair weather. It is also quite accurate and does not need any power, therefore it’s perfectly suitable for survival situations.
You can also train your sky & nature reading skills looking for sings of changing weather such as above mentioned cloud formations, and check out at the same time what barometer shows. This way you will learn quite quickly to predict weather just based on clouds and other observable things in the nature.
Below are some nice barometers from Amazon.