5 Old-Fashioned Ways to Predict the Weather

5 Old-Fashioned Ways to Predict the Weather
Illustration by Lydia Cain, YES! Magazine

Have you noticed how nature gives its own subtle forecast clues?

In an age where the weather app is a tap away, we don’t need to look far for a forecast. But what if you don’t have internet? As you head out into spring, try it the old-fashioned way.

Here are five hints from nature to help you decide whether to plan a picnic.

Open Pine, Weather’s Fine

Curious about humidity? Pine cones are one of Mother Nature’s most reliable hygrometers. Pine seeds travel by wind, so on days when weather is damp or rainy, cones will keep their seeds sealed inside. Once the air dries out, cone scales shrink and open, allowing seeds to escape with the breeze.

If you’re unsure of whether to bring an umbrella, check the cones.

Closed in the Morning, It’ll be Pouring

Dandelion flowers close nightly, but if they’re still shut in the morning, rain is on its way. Many different flora have evolved to protect themselves against the detrimental effects of wet weather, which can wash away pollen and dilute nectar.

Tulips are also known for this trait.

Favored the Least is the Wind from the East

The winds bring all sorts of weather across our paths. However, wind from the east is a tell-tale sign of unsettled weather to come. The wind pattern around a low-pressure system, which brings stormy weather, is always counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere.


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In North America, most of our weather systems travel west to northeast thanks to prevailing winds. As the low forges forward, the counter-clockwise wind that precedes it arrives from the east, meaning the so-called bad weather is still to come. That’s why a developing east wind is a pretty sure sign that unsettled weather is on the way.

Clear Moon, Frost Soon

If you have a clear view of the winter moon at night, you can expect a brisk morning to follow. Without cloud cover to insulate the air, the Earth’s heat rises, which causes surface temperatures to plummet.

This quick drop often yields a blanket of frost the next day.

When Chimney Smoke Descends, The Nice Weather Ends

Chimney smoke that slides from the roof to the ground indicates wet weather is coming. Moisture in the air preceding a storm clings to smoke particles, weighing them down and causing them to sink instead of rise.

This article originally appeared on YES! Magazine

About The Author

Lydia Cain wrote this article for Why Science Can’t Be Silent, the Spring 2017 issue of YES! Magazine. Lydia graduated from the Sheridan Illustration program in 2016.

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