Yes, you can predict the weather without technology
On your next national park trip, use these weather prediction tricks to stay safe (and impress your friends)
We frequently spout old wives tales, such as don’t swim for thirty minutes after eating, swallowed gum will stay in your stomach for seven years, and my mother’s favorite: an afternoon nap is a feather in your cap. Ok, I think she made that one up so my brother and I would leave her with an hour of quiet.
Many of these sayings and passed wisdoms relate to weather, and it turns out that a number of them are true. On your next outdoor adventure or hike in our national parks, use these aphorisms to keep you safe when you don’t have a weather app to tell you what weather is coming next.
PC: Zach Dischner
Red sky at night sailor’s delight, red sky in the morning sailor’s warning
This was one of the first aphorisms I learned, so I’m relieved to know that it’s accurate – as long as the weather is coming from the west. In general, weather in the national parks does travel from the west – but you’ll have to check for your national park. The red color comes from dust particles trapped by high barometric pressure, which means a high-pressure system is moving in from the west. Since high pressure indicates dry weather, you should be set if you see red particles at night. However, if you see the red color in the morning, that means the high-pressure system has already moved on.
Smell the sweet scent of an approaching storm
According to Scientific American, there is a smell for oncoming rainstorms. The smell can come from ozone that comes from fertilizers, pollutants and natural sources. An electrical charge, such as lightning or a man-made source, creates a chemical reaction resulting in ozone (O3) particles. Drafts from approaching thunderstorms bring O3 down from higher levels.
When a halo rings the moon or sun, rain’s approaching on the run
This saying is also true says NOAA. The halo around the moon or sun is usually a good indicator in warm weather only. The halo is formed when ice crystals at high altitudes refract the sunlight or moonlight. This indicates that moisture is coming to lower temperatures, where it probably will fall as precipitation.
PC: Liz West
Pinecones can tell of high humidity
Ok, most of us can tell it is humid by the way the air feels. But this is still pretty interesting; Pinecones scales remain closed when humidity is high, but open in dry air. Why? Because higher humidity means that the seeds inside the cone will be heavier from the extra moisture, and there are likely to travel less far if they were to leave the cone. So, pinecones stay shut to keep those seeds inside until the dry weather returns.
What do you use to predict the weather when hiking our national parks? Do you have other tricks you find helpful? Let us know if the comments below.