Predicting Weather the Old Fashioned Way

 Predicting Weather the Old Fashioned Way

We haven’t always been able to switch the TV or radio on to know what the weather holds for us that day. Even now that we can, it isn’t always reliable. There were times however, when people could predict the weather by simply looking at the sky, smelling the air, and looking for other signs that we are going to be looking at here.

Look to the Skies

It becomes easy habit nowadays to have our heads buried in our phones but a lot can be told about the coming weather by simply looking up.


There are a multitude of different cloud formations, each with their own meanings. If you see Cumulonimbus clouds (traditional thunderstorm looking clouds) early in the day and developing throughout the day, these can mean that there is a greater chance of severe weather heading your way. Simple enough right? Mammatus clouds (the puffy, pocket looking clouds) can form with both severe and non-severe thunderstorms as well as other cloud types.

If you see Cirrus clouds (the stringy fluffy ones), high in the sky like long streamers, it could mean that bad weather is heading your way within the next 36 hours. Altocumulus clouds, (look like fish scales), and also “mean” that bad weather is headed in within the next 36 hours.

Cumulus towers (look like an explosion in the sky) indicate the possibility of showers later in the day, whilst Nimbostratus clouds (rain clouds) hang low and heavy in the sky, and mean rain is imminent. Cirrocumulus clouds (small, puffy in rows) means that cold weather is on its way. It is also known that the higher the clouds are in the sky, the fairer the weather.

I am sure you have heard of the “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning” or a variation of the old saying. If you see a red sky in the morning where the sun rises, it means that rain or a storm is coming. If the red sky is seen as the sun is setting, no rain is coming but wind may follow.

Look for rainbows in the morning. A rainbow in the west means moisture is on its way, a rainbow in the east means the rain has left the area. Finally, a ring around the moon at night could indicate snow or rain within the next 3 days.

Smell the Air

Ever take a deep breath and it seems like the flowers smell stronger than usual? This could be a sign that rain is on the way. If you smell earth, moisture is coming.

Look to the Animals

A lot about the weather can be told by looking at the animals. If the birds are flying high up in the sky, we are in for fairer weather. If the cattle lie down or huddle up in the corner of the field, a severe storm is heading in.

Cats will clean their ears before rain whilst dogs will eat grass when rain is heading in. Other signs to look for include:

  • Rain is coming when spiders come down from their webs.
  • The louder the frogs, the more rain.
  • Ants will build steeper walls to their mounds when rain is coming.
  • If bats are seen flying around in the evening, it is an indication of fine weather.
  • To convert cricket chirps to degrees Fahrenheit, count number of chirps in 14 seconds then add 40 to get the temperature.

Other Means of Weather Prediction

If when you head out in the morning, there is dew on the grass, chances are you wont be seeing any rain that day however, if three nights are dewless, you can be sure to see rain. If the dew is on the ground before midnight, the following day will be bright.

If you have made a fire and the smoke goes straight up in to the air, you are looking at good weather but if it curls then rain is coming in.

Pine cones are also a good weather indicator. Pine seeds travel by wind, so on days when weather is damp or rainy, cones will keep their seeds sealed inside. Once the air dries out, cone scales shrink and open, allowing seeds to escape with the breeze.

Although dandelion flowers close every night, if they are still closed in the morning, rain is coming.

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