How to predict weather using nature

Would you believe me if I told you that you can predict the weather using nature itself? Most modern humans have lost the ability to predict the weather without the aid of the internet. After a disaster, you probably won’t have the luxury of the internet to get your weather report. In this article I will teach you how to predict weather using nature. Continue reading to learn simple tricks that work!

Weather Prediction Basics:

It is important to understand why these methods work to begin with. Here are some weather prediction basics.

  • High-pressure brings warm air.
  • Low-pressure brings cold air.
  • Wind can move in any direction.
  • Even if you can’t see or feel it, the air is full of water vapor.
  • When the air close to the ground warms, it rises taking the vapor with it.
  • Storms have a tendency to move counter-clockwise around low-pressure systems. Moving West to East.
  • In the (Northern) United States, as you move South towards the equator, temperatures rise. In the Southern hemisphere, this is reversed.
  • Both changing temperatures and the wind move clouds.

With this knowledge, the following tips will help you forecast the weather a few hours to a few days ahead of time. Keep in mind that only using one method won’t be very effective. Instead, you should combine several methods from this article to help you make your weather predictions.

Weather Prediction Sayings:

Throughout history, many cultures have developed rhymes for weather prediction. Here are some of the better known proverbs and sayings that can help you predict the weather.

“A ring around the sun or moon means rain or snow is coming soon.”A haze around the sun or moon is caused by moisture in the air. It generally means that it could rain or snow in the next day or two.
“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning a sailor’s warning.”A red sky indicates an increase of moisture in the air. At this point, rain is likely. If you see it at sunset, it means that the storm is moving away from you. If you see it in the morning, it’s headed your way.
“A rainbow in the morning is nature’s warning.” When a rainbow is visible in the morning, it indicates that it is raining to your West. Weather generally progresses from west to east and the raincloud that is producing the rainbow will likely move to your location next.
“Chimney smoke descends, our nice weather ends.”When the smoke from a fire doesn’t rise, it means that a low pressure front is moving in and that wet weather is coming soon.

Use the sky to predict the weather

One of the simplest ways to predict the weather is to simply look up at the sky. A cloudless sky would cause a modern man to assume that it will be a warm day. However, any experienced outdoorsman will tell you that a clear sky doesn’t always mean that good weather will last for long.

The sun can help you predict rain

How to predict weather using nature
How to predict weather using nature

Sailors were well versed in predicting the weather by glancing at the sky long before modern technology arrived. Back then, they didn’t fully understand the science behind what they were seeing and they didn’t need to, but you should.

The old weather adage, “Red sky at night sailors delight; red sky in the morning sailors take warning” may have some scientific validity after all. The old rhyme shares the wisdom of air pressure warnings and weather prediction.

If the sky appears reddish or orange, the color is the result of sunlight reflecting off water vapors and the dust particles in the air. The more red and intense the color, the more moisture is in the air which means that it will rain. The time of day and the direction that you see the red matters just as much as the color.

What does it mean?

  • If you see the red sky in the morning (in the East), you are seeing the front of a low-pressure system and stormy weather is heading your direction.
  • If you see a red sky at sunset, it usually means that the storm is moving away from you and being pushed from a high pressure system coming in from the west.

Nature can drop dramatic hints like a blazing sky or she can be subtle. If you see a rainbow in the western morning sky (like I did this morning), it means that rain is coming. It did indeed rain very fast and hard shortly after I saw the rainbow. If you see an eastern rainbow in the evening, it means that the rain is moving away from you. Keep the sun to your back and remember this little ditty, “A rainbow in the morning is nature’s warning.”

How to predict weather using nature
How to predict weather using nature

Watch the moon for weather clues

The sun is not the only one who can shed light on the weather. The moon can also provide a lot of weather clues and insight.

  • A moon ringed with haze can be as telling as an early morning rainbow or a red sunrise. When you see an obvious haziness around the moon, you are seeing cirrostratus clouds. That haze means that it will rain in the next day or two.
  • A bright, clear, unobstructed moon typically means that the following day will be clear too.

Of course, there is a jingle for this one too. “Circle ’round the moon, rain or snow soon.”

How to predict weather using nature

Clouds can help you predict weather changes

Clouds can tell you a lot about your future weather. Size, shape, color, time of day, and movement each play a vital role in determining the weather patterns.

  • Heavy clouds at night will bring warmer weather the following day. The clouds insulate the earth and keep the cold out and the heat in.
  • If clouds persist through the following day, the temperature will drop because the insulating effect will keep the warmth of the sun from penetrating.

The clouds that you see during a downpour are dark and ominous for a reason. The darker the color, the denser the clouds are. Clouds are full of condensed water vapor and atmospheric dust and the heavier / darker clouds are full of more water.

Lighter clouds mean less rain and darker clouds mean more rain. The cloud shape is also important. Here is a list of common clouds and what they mean weather-wise.

Common cloud types

  • Cumulus Clouds: Cumulus clouds typically mean fair weather. They are the fluffy, white, cotton ball clouds that stay lower in the sky. If they create thick layers and towers, there could be rain later in the day.
  • Cumulonimbus Clouds: These clouds indicate heavy rains and thunderstorms. They are massive clouds that create a thick, grey mushroom shaped blanket over the sky. Sometimes they are called “thunderheads” and can produce lightening deep within. Cumulonimbus are often associated with flash floods and are especially dangerous for survivalists. You can easily see them in the sky.
  • Nimbostratus Clouds: These clouds look like grayish sheets across large swathes of the sky. They often get so thick that they blot out the sun and mean continuous precipitation. Don’t confuse nimbostratus with stratus clouds. Stratus clouds are lower, much thinner, and don’t carry a lot of rain.
  • Altostratus Clouds: These clouds generally bring continuous rain or snow. They are mid-level bluish gray and cover the entire sky.
  • Cirrostratus Clouds: These clouds are wispy and thin like veils. They cause the distinctive halo around the moon that I mentioned above. If you see cirrostratus clouds, then it may rain or snow in the next 24 hours.

Wind can predict a storm

Storms tend to ride a west to east rotation, but winds can come from all directions. It is important to know what is normal for your area and region when you check the wind. Meteorologist Jeff Haby calls this the prevailing wind. You can expect a change in typical weather when the wind moves away from the prevailing direction.

Use Nature’s Tricks to Predict the Weather

There is a simple trick to predict the weather using both wind and clouds and all you need is your body. Simply stand with your back to the wind and look up. If you notice that the clouds are moving directly toward you or away from you then the weather will probably stay the same. If the clouds move left to right then the weather is probably going to get worse. If the clouds are moving right to left then the weather will probably get better.

Predicting Weather With Nature’s Tricks

Campfire smoke reports air pressure

When you are trying to predict the weather, it is helpful to know if the air pressure is high or low. We have to use tools since we can’t see air pressure. You may not have a barometer or access to the right trees to make a weather stick in a survival situation, but hopefully you can make a fire.

Remember that low pressure means rain. Now light your fire and watch the smoke.

Smoke signals:

  • If the smoke goes straight up, then you are seeing high pressure in action. That’s clear skies.
  • If the smoke circles, hangs low in the sky, or goes off in various directions while staying low, you have dropping air pressure and it’s about to get wet.

Weather stick air pressure warnings

One of my favorite weather prediction methods, utilizes a weather stick. You can make a simple and effective barometer if you have access to a balsam fir tree. Dry a branch that is 15 – 17 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Leave a bit of the tree’s trunk near the base. Next, peel off the bark, then hang the branch with a nail. Make sure that the branch is hanging in its natural position.

The weather stick works similarly to the campfire smoke method. The stick moves sharply upwards in response to high pressure (nice weather.) The stick will move downwards when there’s low pressure (rain.)

If you’d like to learn more, this article from the Farmers’ Almanac goes into detail about weather sticks and how they work.

Weather Stick – Forecast The Weather Using A Wood Stick

Animals can help you predict the weather

To get the most out of any animal related tips, make sure that you are familiar with the natural and normal behavior of the local creatures in your area. Animals are often more aware of the weather than humans for obvious reasons.

  • Birds fly lower or head home to roost when bad weather is on the way. It is uncomfortable for them to fly in low pressure. The birds around my house often take cover under thick trees, but their favorite place to hide from the rain is under my house.
  • Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators hide when low pressure systems move in. These sensitive insects do not fare well in rain and damp weather so they head home before the rain arrives.
  • Frogs and toads come out earlier and stick around longer when the wet weather arrives. They need damp conditions to survive so they tend to stay in during dry weather. If you happen to hear frogs singing earlier in the evening, it probably means that low pressure is moving in and it will rain soon.
  • Squirrels and other mammals that dwell in trees tend to nest higher in trees during the cold season. You can consider this, long term-weather prediction and prepare accordingly.
  • Wild turkeys will perch in trees and be reluctant to descend when bad weather is on the way. It also means that you could have an easy dinner if you are skilled with a bow.
  • Beavers build bigger and tougher lodges if a cold winter is on the way. This is another long-term weather clue to pay attention to.
  • Dogs can hear thunderstorms before humans can. If you have a dog after disaster strikes, watch its behavior closely.
  • Deer and elk often come down from their mountain homes several days before rainstorms.


I have mainly covered northern hemisphere weather patterns because that is where I grew up and what I know best. However, many of these tips will help those in the southern hemisphere with a few modifications. Your best bet is to start learning and practicing these skills before disaster strikes.

Remember that it is important to practice any skill to become proficient at it. You may not get accurate results with your first attempts, but keep practicing. Continue to refine your techniques and pay attention to your specific location and how these techniques work (or don’t work) in your area.

Tip: To maximize your success, keep a weather journal with your predictions then also track what the weather actually does. Try this for a month or several times a year. I recommend practicing it a few times during each different season. Soon, you will see patterns in your predictions and how they relate to what the weather does.

Do you have any tips and tricks to predict the weather? Comment below to share!

See you again soon!