Learn to "predict" the weather by looking around you . . . at the sky, at the trees, at the grass, even by watching the animals around you. It's fun and you can impress your friends and family with your forecasting abilities!
When I was growing up and even still today, my mom would always say, "Those silly weathermen don't know what they are talking about! Don't they ever look out the window and look at the clouds and the sky? Look at those mares' tails," she would say, indicating the wispy clouds in the sky, "it's going to rain tomorrow".
She taught me many weather signs to look for – different types of clouds, how the smoke from the chimney would rise (or not), a ring around the moon, whether the leaves turn upside down when the wind blows. All these are simple predictors that have been used for centuries to forecast the weather.
These are general predictors and not always 100% accurate but you'll be right most of the time!
The "rhododendron thermometer"I have my very own "rhododendron thermometer" right outside my bedroom window. Every morning when I wake up in the winter, I can get an idea of how cold it is outside just by looking out the window at my rhododendron. If the leaves are curled tight, I know it's really cold out, at least 20 degrees F or even colder. If they are curled just a little, I know it's not super cold out, maybe around 30 degrees or so. At around 40 degrees F, rhododendron leaves begin to droop but they don't start to curl until the temperature drops close to freezing. Check out your rhododendron the next time it starts to get cold and see if you can tell the temperature!
Look at the clouds in the sky"Mares' tails, mares' tails, make lofty ships carry low sails."
"Mackerel scales in the sky, expect more wet than dry."
- "Mares' tails" are wispy clouds that look just like a horse's tail. If you see lots of mare's tails filling the sky, then rain is likely within the next 36 hours.
If you see both mare's tails and mackerel sky at the same time, rain is likely to come the next day.
- A "mackerel sky" is when the clouds look just like the scales on a fish. A mackerel sky is also a predictor of rain (within the next 36 hours).
Scan the sky on a clear day
Long jet contrails that remain relatively intact in the sky for some time, mean there is a lot of moisture in the atmosphere and it will become cloudy and probably rain. If the contrails are very short or non-existant, then it will remain clear.
Scan the sky on a stormy day
"There's enough blue sky to make a pair of Duchman's breeches!"
Oh, how we longed for those words! On a rainy day in the summer, we would search the sky for patches of blue in the west. If you see a patch of blue on a cloudy day "as big as a pair of Dutchman's britches", then it will most likely clear up!
Look for dew on the grass in the morning"When the dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass."
Check your front yard in the morning. If there is heavy dew on the grass, the weather will be fair with no rain. If there is no dew in the morning, this is a sign of rain.
Watch the leaves when the wind blowsIf the wind blows the leaves on the trees so that you see the paler undersides of the leaves, then a storm is coming.
Notice the color of the sky at sunrise and sunset"Red sky at night, sailor's delight;
Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning."
My mom taught me this poem when I was pretty little. Maybe you've heard it, too.If you see a red sky in the west at sunset, then there will be fair weather the next day. If you observe a red sky in the east at sunrise, then rain is on the way.
Look for a ring around the moon (or sun)"A ring around the sun or moon,
means rain or snow coming soon."
Look up in the sky on a clear night. If you see a ring or halo around the moon, then snow or rain is coming. It's pretty impressive when you see it!
Watch the way the smoke rises"When smoke descends, good weather ends."
Smoke rising straight up out of the chimney or from a camp fire, indicates a high pressure system and fair weather. If the smoke swirls around, doesn't rise, or even curls downward, a low pressure system is in place and a storm is on the way.
What do you smell when you take a deep breath?"When the ditch and pond offend the nose,
Then look for rain and stormy blows."
Take a deep breath and concentrate on what you smell. If you smell moist earthy odors or the sweet fragrance of the flowers is stronger than normal (or the sewage treatment plant is more odoriferous than usual), then the air is moister and a low pressure system will be bringing rain.
Listen to the sounds around you.
"Sound traveling far and wide, a stormy day this doth betide."
If distant sounds (like the train whistle, a train clattering on the tracks, or cars on a distant highway) sound louder than usual, then rain or snow is coming. During fair weather, sound waves travel upward into the atmosphere, thus they dissipate quickly and have a shorter range. On a cloudy, humid day, sound waves bend back toward the earth and travel further.
How much snow?
My grampa always used to say that "the snow will be as deep as the longest icicle"! I don't know how often that one comes comes true around here, but at Grampa's farm in northeastern Pennsylvania, they had some pretty long icicles and some pretty deep snow!
Animals know better than we do!
- If you see the birds flying high in the sky, then a high pressure system is in place and the weather will be fair. Low pressure systems bringing rain will cause them to fly low.
- Birds tend to sit in large numbers on the telephone wires when rain is on the way.
- When you see the cows lying down in the fields, then rain is on the way.