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How To Predict The Weather

Posted by on 7/28/2011 to Shelter and Warmth

Predicting the weather in a survival situation can be a pretty important aspect. It can influence important decisions such as when to keep traveling or set up shelter, what type of shelter to make, when and where to make a fire, and much more. Here is a short list of common indicators of particular weather patterns.
  • Sky Color - Remember the old saying, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailor's take warning. When the sky appears red at night (towards the west) then it indicates high pressure and stirring particles, which means dry air (hence no rain) is moving towards you. If red sky is east (during sunrise) then high pressure and swirling particles are moving away, which is usually followed by low pressure and high moisture. We assume that most weather systems move from west to east.
  • Rainbows - Rainbows indicate moisture due to the refraction of light. So when you see a rainbow towards the west, then you got moisture on the way.
  • Scent - Most people claim they can smell rain... Well, that's almost true. People can notice a distinct scent before, during, and after rainfall, but it is not the rain itself. What they smell is likely the plant waste that is released into the air due to low pressure, in addition to the high humidity which magnifies the scent. Trust your nose.
  • Humidity - High humidity is usually an obvious and immediate sign of potential rainfall. If you can't sense the humidy level then some tell-tale signs include frizzy hair and clumpy salt, sugar, or powders. Pine cones remain closed up, wood swells, and certain tree leaves curl up.
  • Clouds - If you know your cloud formations you can really use this to your advantage. This section of weather prediction is pretty detailed so we saved it for another article. Check out the Cloud Patterns article on our blog.
  • Animals - Animals are naturally better at predicting the weather than humans are. Use their knowledge to your advantage by observing their behaviors. Some indications include: Birds flying high indicate fair weather, while low flying or resting birds indicate oncoming rain. Sea gulls seek shelter by the shore before storms. Animals are often more calm before storms, cows will lie down and group together. Cats lick behind their ears before storms due to the static electricity effecting their hair. Ants build high hills to deal with oncoming rain. Turtles seek high ground.
  • The Moon - Although a bright and sharply focused moon may look beautiful, it usually indicates approaching rainfall due to low pressure and cleared particles. A ring around the moon often indicates precipitation within the next 3 days.
Notes: Keep in mind these methods are not 100% accurate. But using these techniques can give you a better chance for making the right decision. Remember weather is a highly unstable system of events and the smallest things can influence major changes.
Also remember that most of these tips assume that the weather system you are in moves from west to east as this is the most common. If you know yours is different, then reverse the directions.
Related Survival Gear: Compasses are a helpful tool in predicting weather patterns. Knowing the direction of the wind and movement of weather systems is crucial.
Tube Tents and Ponchos are effective rain protection gear.
Blankets and Fire Starting Tools will help keep you warm.
Blog Comments
Jimmy Date 4/12/2014
Hang a rock from a limb with a piece of string. This is an old timer method of determining the weather. Enjoy! -rock is wet, rain -rock is white, snow -rock is swinging, windy -rock missing, tornado
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