Simple how to directions for predicting the weather:
Being able to accurately predict the weather is an important skill for any would be homesteader. I had the privilege of growing up in a community that depended heavily on the orchard industry. Any orchardist worth his salt knows how to predict the weather and foresee coming storms. A single unforeseen storm or early frost can wipe out an entire year’s harvest. As such, the weather tended to be more than just small talk.
Knowledge of your local weather patterns is the most important tool in accurately predicting the weather. For example, I live in SouthWest Washington. All of our weather comes in from the west. When the clouds come in, they bump up against the Cascade Mountains. This causes the clouds to consolidate and dump rain. This is often referred to as a rain shadow. Twenty miles to the west and you can expect rain almost any time of the year. Twenty miles to the east and it is nothing but rock and desert. In light of this; I will always look west in order to predict what the weather will be.
A change in the wind often represents a coming storm. As previously stated, the weather where I live typically blows in from the west. However, if the wind suddenly changes directions as starts coming in from the North, I know there is a storm brewing.
Predicting weather by clouds: Everyone knows what thunder clouds look like. They are both thick and dark. Sometimes you can even see the rain falling from them as they approach. When you see these large thunder clouds you know that you only have minutes to spare. However, there are other clouds that can give you hours of warning.
There are two types of early warning clouds. These are known as Altocumulus clouds and Cirrus clouds. These clouds tend to hang out on the edge of thunder storms, and can give you a solid days warning. Cirrus clouds tend to be thin and wispy whereas Altocumulus clouds tend to resemble a line of contrails (the white lines that are left behind by airplanes).
In my experience Altocumulus clouds are the best indication of an approaching thunder storm. Alrocumulus clouds are usually white or grey and often occur in sheets or patches with wavy, rounded masses or rolls. A sheet of partially conjoined altocumulus are sometimes found preceding a weakening warm front, where the altostratus is starting to fragment, resulting in patches of altocumulus between the areas of altostratus. Altocumulus is also commonly found between the warm and cold fronts in a depression, although this is often hidden by lower clouds. Towering altocumulus, known as altocumulus castellanus, frequently signal the development of thunderstorms later in the day, as it shows instability and convection in the middle levels of the stroposphere.
However, you cannot rely on the clouds alone. Just because they come about due to instability, doesn’t mean that there will definitely be a thunder storm. One must also consider moisture and temperature. For example, if you see altocumulus clouds, feel a drop in temperature, sense moisture in the air, and notice change in winds, than you can rest assured that a thunder storm is on its way. However, if there is little wind, and it’s cold and dry out, there most likely won’t be a thunder storm.
One would also do well to remember the old adage, “red sky of night, sailor’s delight. Red sky of morning, sailors take warning.” A red sunset often means that high pressure is moving in and it will be a pleasant day. On the other hand, a red sunrise means that low pressure is coming in, this is typically accompanied by wind and rain.