How To Read The Weather Part 1

I’ve always been interested in the weather as it relates to the outdoors. Things like being able to look at clouds moving in, the humidity, wind, etc and predicting what weather is likely to come in and how soon. So I was really intrigued when Tristan Gooley came out with a new book called “The Secret World of Weather” that covered this topic in detail. That book along with Eric Sloans “Weather Book” are the basis for this first in a series of posts that consist of my notes as I read the book and studied the topic.

First off, there are “Seven Golden Patterns”. They are:

  1. When clouds get lower, bad weather is more likely.
    • Clouds that are already low aren’t significant. Lowering clouds are.
  2. The more different cloud types you spot, the worse the weather.
    • If you see a lot of different cloud types it means the atmosphere is unstable at some levels.
  3. When small clouds grow, the forecast gets worse.
    • The opposite is also true, when big clouds get smaller, weather is likely to improve.
  4. Clouds that are much taller than they are wide indicate that bad weather is likely.
    • Think of towering storm clouds for example.
  5. Spiky or jagged cloud tops are a warning sign of unstable weather.
    • “When clouds appear like rocks and towers, earths refreshed by frequent showers”.
  6. The rougher the cloud base the more likely rain becomes.
  7. The lower the clouds we use for forecasting the shorter the forecast.
    • Low clouds can only reveal what is just about to happen.

Knowing the cloud families is of critical importance in reading the weather. They can provide some of the best visual clues as to what is happening in the atmosphere and what is likely to happen in the future.

The Cloud Families –

Cirrus Clouds – High wispy clouds, they usually appear as a collection of wispy strands. They are some of the earliest warning signs of change.

Stratus Clouds – Wide flat sheets of clouds. They can bring rain but typically dont. Whatever they do bring tends to be consistent. Their flat nature indicates a stable atmosphere.

Cumulus Clouds – They come in many forms but think of white fluffly individual clouds. The key to understanding cumulus clouds is noticing that they bubble up. They all form as a result of local heat from below.

Cloud Cousins:

Cirrostratus – High clouds spread over wide areas, they can cover the sky as thin wispy veil.

Cirrostratus clouds

Altostratus – A middle high cloud thats another flat blanket. So big they can cover small countries! When it follows a cirrostratus cloud its giving a clue that the clouds are getting lower and growing, a sign of bad weather to come.

Altostratus clouds

Nimbostratus – A stratus cloud that is rain bearing.

Nimbostratus clouds

Cumulonimbus – The big storm clouds!


Cloud Clues:

  • The more humid the air the lower the base of the clouds. That means that the height of clouds serves as measure of humidity.
  • Rising humidity is a sign of worsening weather.
  • Cumulus clouds tell us that the air is not stable. They are always local, that is they are the result of a local condition.
  • Sand and grasslands reflect much more sunlight than woodlands do, so they warm more slowly.

1 thought on “How To Read The Weather Part 1”

  1. Such a good distillation of the basics. Thanks for your efforts! In addition to these patterns, I find that staying clear of Carl when he farts is highly useful in that his farts can effect the local weather.


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