By Alex Osborne

It happens to everyone at some point, you plan an exciting day outside only for it to be drizzled out by rain; it’s a buzz kill and a down right drag. Here are some tips I’ve picked up to help you predict the weather and avoid being surprised by the elements this summer.

1. Get to know the system


There are two fundamental things you need to know if you’re going to try and predict the weather; the first is that most major weather systems in North America move west to east. The second is that low pressure systems bring rain. It can be kind of difficult, but with a little practice you’ll be able to recognize the signs of a low pressure system in your area.

2. Look for feathered friends


Watch the birds. When rain is imminent, birds will fly lower to alleviate the pressure on their ears. If birds fly high in low pressure it hurts their ears. Just like when you swim too deep in a pool.

3. Red in the sky means high


A reddish tint to the sky in the west during sunset means that a high pressure system is stirring dust into the sky and that dry air is moving toward you. The opposite can be said for a red sky in the east when the sun is rising, this would indicate that the dry air is past you and that a low pressure system is moving in bringing with it the possibility of rain.

4. Check your smoke


My next tip involves one of my favorite things on a cool summer evening, fire! Chances are if you’re out camping you’ll have some logs burning. This is an easy time to try guess if rains coming or not simply by watching the smoke. Smoke that swirls, curls, and descends means low pressure and that rain is coming. During high pressure, smoke will rise steadily.

5. Look up at the clouds


My last tip for you outdoorsmen and women is to get to take the time to get to know your clouds. Not only is it a neat thing to teach the kiddos, but it will help you predict the weather too. Nimbostratus clouds mean that rain is imminent while towers of cumulus clouds are a strong indication that rain is on the way.

Those are all the tips I’ve learned over the years to try and get a jump on the rain. I hope they can help you stay dry this summer and avoid and ruined plans.

Alex is the horticulture intern for The Outdoor Campus this summer. He is currently at Dakota Wesleyan studying Wildlife Management. 


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