How to Forecast the Weather Without Gadgets

It seems like everyone has a weather app on their phone these days, but how come no one can be sure if the forecast will hold until tomorrow? The reason boils down to something called “ambiguity aversion.” People are so used to getting instant responses and taking short cuts in life that they never predict anything with full confidence.

The “how does a barometer predict weather” is a question that has been asked many times. The answer to this question is simple, but not as easy as it sounds. Barometers are used for predicting the weather by measuring air pressure and temperature changes in the atmosphere. It can also be used to measure altitude and wind speed.

Young Daniel Boone doing horse riding on the mountain.

Technology has advanced the world significantly, allowing us to absorb more knowledge in a few minutes on Google Mobile than anyone could find in a week by sifting through books at the local library decades ago. Despite all of this easily accessible knowledge and the emphasis on being able to get information, the requirement to really know and retain information has been significantly reduced. However, there is much to be said about keeping the knowledge and abilities that men of the past need to live, such as compass navigation and building a good campfire. With that in mind, and with hunting season approaching, let’s take a peek at the sky and hone our weather predicting abilities.

The weather prediction for tonight is for it to be dark. Darkness persisted overnight, giving way to widely distributed light in the morning. George Carlin (comedian)

Keep in mind that if the national weatherman, who uses Doppler radar and satellite photos, is sometimes incorrect, so will you. Given this, it’s definitely better to avoid placing large bets with your friends when you know it’ll start raining in the following few minutes. However, by observing nature’s telltale indicators, you may make some quite safe predictions about what is to come in terms of weather. Let’s start with some fundamentals:

Signs of clouds

Clouds will give you with the most accurate indications of what is to come when it comes to nature’s weather signals. Clouds are simply water droplets or ice crystals that clump together in the atmosphere (depending on altitude). There are simply too many sorts of clouds to name, but some of the most common cloud forms may signal what weather patterns to expect.


Cumulus clouds. The most common association with cumulus clouds is nice weather. Cumulus clouds, with their fluffy, constantly shifting appearance, often assume the form of diverse figures in the imaginations of imaginative children. While cumulus clouds are a sign of pleasant weather, they often transform into cumulonimbus clouds, also known as thunderheads, which are a clear indicator that it’s time to batten down the hatches.


Stratus clouds.Stratus clouds are flat and featureless, and they often cover the sky entirely. Stratus clouds are flat both above and below, unlike cumulus clouds, which are flat on the bottom and rise rapidly on the tops. While they seldom signal impending severe weather, they do often generate a light rain or flurries.


Cirrus clouds.Cirrus clouds are high-altitude clouds that have the appearance of wispy brush strokes. Mare’s tails are what the wisps are called when they curve at the end. These clouds are sometimes seen as a precursor to incoming storms, although they may also appear after a thunderstorm has passed.


Nimbus clouds.Nimbus clouds are any of the above clouds that have darkened in color, suggesting significant moisture levels inside the cloud and the possibility of rain. A cumulonimbus cloud, for example, is a cumulus cloud that is very black and ominous, and is connected with thunderstorms. Cumulonimbus clouds frequently soar into the sky like towers and occasionally have the form of an anvil, with the longer end of the anvil head pointing in the storm’s direction.


Proverbs That Have Withstood Time

The first known weather proverb may be found in the New Testament of the Bible, when Jesus said, “When nightfall comes, you say, ‘It will be good weather, because the sky is red,’ and in the morning, you say, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and clouded.” (Matthew 16:2, NIV) While some proverbs are nothing more than old wives’ tales, others are scientifically proven. Some famous instances of the latter are as follows:

“A red sky at night is a sailor’s joy; a red sky in the morning is a caution to sailors.”


“Help the traveler on his route, evening crimson and dawn gray.” The rain falls on his head in the form of evening gray and morning crimson.”

Looking west in the evening, a noticeably crimson sky might be interpreted as a sign of impending dry weather (or staying). Dust particles in the atmosphere generate the red sky, which only occurs in dry weather. Because weather systems usually migrate west to east due to jet streams, you can be sure that this dry weather is on your way. A morning crimson sky in the east, on the other hand, indicates that the dry weather has passed you by and that a wet weather system is on its way.

“The finest time to smell flowers is just before it rains.”


“If the smell of a ditch or pond offends you, expect for rain and strong winds.”

After a nice summer rain, when the air is thick with the scent of plant life, everyone is acquainted with that fragrance. This is due to an increase in air moisture or humidity, which enhances the intensity of odors in the air as well as the distance they travel. Also, it is thought that while air pressure is high, the smells of swamps and marshes are contained close to the surface, but when atmospheric pressure is low, same bad scents may rise and travel. The rise in humidity and decline in atmospheric pressure linked with these proverbs are both indicators of impending rain.

“As chimney smoke falls, our pleasant weather comes to an end.”

Keep an eye on the smoke rising from the raging campfire you’ve just made. If the smoke rises in a straight line, you should expect pleasant weather. You can guarantee that a storm is brewing if smoke rises normally in a stack but looks to be buffeted downwards once it reaches a particular height.

“Beware of bolts from the north or west; bolts from the south or east are ideal.”

As previously said, most weather systems move from west to east. This adage simply means that visible storms in the west are most certainly heading your way, but storms in the east have already passed you by.

“A ring around the sun or moon indicates that rain or snow is on the way.”

The apparent ring that occasionally appears around the sun or the moon is caused by cirrus clouds’ ice crystals refracting light off these celestial bodies. Cirrus clouds are usually a sign of impending bad weather, so you should start waterproofing your tent now.


“The Earth is replenished by regular rains when clouds resemble rocks and buildings.”

This adage, which refers to the cumulonimbus cloud formations noted earlier, serves as a simple reminder that such clouds presage the impending arrival of a storm.

The Barometer is one of the tools of the trade.

Some of nature’s clues can’t be deciphered merely by looking at them; they need to be measured. A barometer may be used to measure atmospheric pressure, which can provide you a lot of information about the sort of weather that is coming your way. In the most basic sense, a barometer exhibiting high pressure in the region indicates that good weather is anticipated, whilst low pressure indicates that rain is likely.

Before you begin, double-check that you have all of the necessary tools. Aneroid barometers, which do not contain any liquid, are the most common personal use barometers. A spring is included in these barometers, which is calibrated using a dial or knob on the rear of the machine. You’ll need to go to and acquire a local weather report, which will contain the current barometric pressure, to correctly calibrate your barometer. Make the necessary adjustments to your barometer.

While knowing that high pressure is good and low pressure is negative is a solid start, the barometer can also provide more sophisticated and precise information. The barometer reference card below, derived from Bradford Angier’s Skills for Taming the Wilds, can aid you in your short-term weather forecasting endeavors (Keep in mind that these measurements and what they indicate are only representative within the U.S. and Canada).

High and stable SW to NW For one to two days, the weather will be fair with minimal temperature variation.
High and swiftly increasing SW to NW Fair, with higher temperatures and showers in the forecast for the next two days.
High, but fast fading E to NE Summer: 12 to 24 hours of rain

Snow or rain with rising wind in the winter

Very high, gently descending SW to NW For the next two days, the weather will be clear with gradually increasing temperatures.
High, but fast fading S to SE In 12 to 24 hours, it will rain with rising wind.
High and steadily descending S to SE Within 24 hours, it will rain.
High and steadily descending E to NE Summertime brings mild breezes and pleasant temperatures.

Winter: 24 hours of precipitation

High and steadily descending SW to NW Within 24 to 36 hours, it will rain.
Low, but fast increasing Changing to W It’s becoming colder and clearer.
Low and gradually increasing S to SW It will clear up shortly, and the weather will be pleasant for many days.
Low and gradually dropping SE to NE It’s going to rain for another day or two.
Low and fast decreasing E to N Northeast winds with heavy rain or snow, followed by cold in the winter

Further Reading/Source Material:

Bradford Angier’s Wilderness Taming Techniques

Anthony Greenbank’s The Book of Survival

Michael S. Sweeney’s National Geographic Complete Survival Manual



Watch This Video-

The “weather proverbs” is a list of weather-related sayings that are used to make predictions about the weather.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can weather be predicted without technology?

A: This is a tough one, as you cannot predict the weather without technology. Weather prediction relies on science and math, which are both sciences that rely heavily on technological advances.

How can you predict the weather without an instrument?

A: There is no scientific way to predict the weather. The best that can be done is use a combination of statistics and historical data, as well as your own judgement in predicting what will happen.

How can you predict the weather naturally?

A: One of the best ways to predict the weather is through your own climate. If you live in a region that has high humidity most of the year, like much of North America, then it will be muggy and humid almost all day long with little change throughout the seasons. The opposite end would be if you lived somewhere more temperate where there was very little rain or snow during winter months but warm summers as well as pleasant breezes from ocean fronts.

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