Taking Back The Weather

Since forever, weather has been vitally important to human survival. So, from day one, people learned how to read nature in order to forecast weather patterns. This way they’d know if they needed to bring the animals indoors, if tomorrow would be a good day for hunting, if the crops needed to be harvested, if it was too early to plant, if a storm was on the way, etc., etc. This method was amost 100% accurate.

Over time some people proved themselves to be better at reading nature than others and they became the designated weather predictors. They’d pass on their skills to the next generation and so on until some wise ass decided this important weather education ought to be formalized and they invented a university and meterological studies and all sorts of highly scientific equipment and specialized weather centers to really pinpoint weather patterns. The Environment Canada Weather Office now boasts a 45% accuracy rate in forecasting the weather. (OOooooOOOooooooOO… 45% is a FAIL, dudes!!!)

One day someone is going to figure out that blogging would make a good university course (if it isn’t already). And they will have some egghead who’s never blogged, but has done a lot of  “research” on it,  teach it and that will be the end of the blogosphere as we know it. Mark my words. ~ XUP

Anyhoooo… back to the weather. I think maybe it’s time for all of us to Take Back The Weather! Because I’m really tired of planning an outdoor activity after the weather people told me it was going to be hot and sunny only to wake up to near freezing temperatures and torrential rain. And I’m tired of going to work in the morning in my rain boots, raincoat and toting a big old umbrella because a “heavy rainfall warning” has been issued and then it turns out to be the hottest, sunniest day ever. (Not that that’s happened around here in living memory.)

So, okay let’s do our own forecasts. Screw you meteorologists and your gyroscopes. We’re just going to go outside and look at nature in order to figure out what’s going on with the weather. How crazy is that?  


The Air

  • Take a sniff of the air.  In low pressure, plants will give off a composty smell, flowers will smell stronger. And low pressure means rain or some other precipitation.
  • Also, sounds will also be sharper in a low pressure situation.
  • Check which way the wind is blowing: 
    • Winds blowing in an easterly direction usually mean an approaching storm.
    • Westerly winds mean nice weather ahead.
    • Strong winds mean a worse storm and if trees are showing the underside of their leaves, it means a really nasty storm. When high winds hit a tree, dense leaves will catch the wind and pull the tree over. Folding up its leaves affords a tree some measure of protection.

The Sky

  • Remember the “red sky at night” ditty? 
    • If the sky is red at night when the sun is setting it means there’s a high pressure system mixing with dry air. Since this high pressure system is in the west and since prevailing winds move weather systems from west to east, this means nice weather is on its way. 
    • If the sky is red in the morning, the news is not so good. It means the dry air has passed and a low pressure system is on its way. And low pressure means moisture.
  • The moon:
    • If the moon is reddish or pale also means nice weather.
    •  If the moon is bright and clear, it means a low pressure system is in the air and we all know by now that low pressure equals precipitation.
    • And if there’s  a circle around the moon, rain or snow will follow soon (as the old rhyme goes).

The Birds

Our bird friends can help us predict the weather, too. They already know what’s coming and will adjust their day accordingly.

  • If birds are flying high in the sky, everything is fine and dandy.
  • If they’re down low and/or roosting, rain is on the way.
  • If you see a whole lot of birds in trees or on power lines it means a rain or snow storm is coming really, really soon. If you see birds feeding during a storm, you’ll know the storm isn’t going to be ending any time soon.

The Clouds

Clouds, of course are excellent weather predictors:

  • White, thin clouds high in the sky mean nice weather for a while.
  • Clouds will become thicker, darker and lower in the sky as bad weather approaches. That much, I reckon is pretty straight forward.  
  • If there are several layers of clouds moving in different directions, you know some heavy shit is about to come down.
  • If there are lots of clouds on a winter night, you will know that warmer weather is coming the next day, though it may snow.
  • A clear sky at night, winter or summer, means a nice day ahead.

The Long Range Forecast

If November is a warm month, the upcoming winter will be severe.

If squirrels seem busier than usual gathering nuts, it will be a bad winter.

If the summer is extra hot, the winter will be extra cold.

The first frost of autumn will occur exactly six months after the first thunderstorm in the spring.

If the autumn is windy, then expect a mild winter.

If the spring in windy, expect a cool summer.

If it is a dry spring, it will be a wet summer.

A mild winter precedes a cool spring.

The Weather Related Anecdote

The Old Farmer’s Almanac  has been a great source for long-range weather predictions since 1792. I always make sure I have one in my Christmas stocking because I’m a little obsessed with the weather. Growing up on a farm, (ya, ya, enough already with the growing-up-on-a-farm references) weather was an ongoing topic of conversation, worry, anxiety and joy in the house. And because I still like to spend a good part of my day outdoors, I want to know what’s going on out there—in the days, weeks and even months ahead.

Back to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. One year, back in the mid-1800’s, the publishers noticed that the upcoming edition did not have a weather prediction for a certain date in June and the thing was about to go to print. “Oh hell,” said the editor (because that’s how editors talked even back then), “Just put anything in there,”  So the flunky thought to himself, “Fine, let’s see how they like this” and he wrote —  on this day, it is not only going to be fair, but it is also going to rain, snow and sleet — And, as it turned out, the forecast was 100% accurate. (True story).

This guaranteed them subscriptions for the next few decades.

Although I complain about the weather a lot, like a good Canadian, I actually love weather. I once spent 6 weeks in a country that didn’t have any weather. Every morning the weather guy on the radio would announce, “80 degrees and sunnyyyyy” (in a liltingly musical Caribbean accent). I thought I would like that, but I didn’t.  I actually felt like I might lose my mind if it didn’t rain soon.