Weather Lesson 4

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How to predict weather

When you are on your wilderness trip, some basic knowledge about how to predict weather will help you to take appropriate action for not getting into trouble and risk your safety.

Air pressure

Changing weather means changing air pressure. Decreasing air pressure indicates the approach of a low pressure area, which often brings clouds and precipitation. Increasing air pressure often means that a high pressure area is approaching, bringing a fine and clear day. A barometer measures air pressure and is a well-known instrument to predict weather.

There are also nature signs of changing air pressure that can be used to forecast weather. For example, on a fine and clear day, the smoke from the campfire rises steadily. If it starts swirling and descending, the air pressure decreases and bad weather will be expected.


An ability to accurately read cloud formations is important when you want to understand how to predict weather. Clouds are classified into different types, according to height and shape. Not all clouds bring rain, some are signs of fine weather.

During a fine day (1), the clouds are white, the higher the finer. Storm clouds (2) are generally black, low, and massed in large clusters. If wet weather is approaching (3), the cloud will form a grayish veil. This means it is time to take shelter.

Red Sky

A red sky at either dusk or dawn is one of the most beautiful natural signs you can use to predict the weather. At dusk, a red sky indicates that the next day will probably be a dry and fine day.

This is due to the sun shining through dust particles being pushed ahead of a high pressure system bringing in dry air. A red sky at dawn often means that an approaching low pressure system is bringing in a lot of moisture in the air. This is a fair indication that a storm is approaching.

How animals predict the weather

Animals sense the movements in air pressure that precede all weather changes. Watch the animals around you and see if you notice changes in their behavior with various types of weather. Humans have used animal behavior to predict weather and storms for centuries. Right before a rain, insect-eating birds, such as swallows, have a tendency to fly much lower to the ground, and bees and butterflies seem to disappear from the flow

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