what indicates that foul weather is approaching

What Indicates That Foul Weather Is Approaching?

Are you ready for your camping trip? Before you head out, you might want to learn how to predict the weather. In this post, you’ll get to know the answer to the familiar question: what indicates that foul weather is approaching? 

Predicting the weather is one of those skills every camper should learn. While there are plenty of weather apps, let’s remember that smartphones are practically useless outdoors.

Learning how to predict bad weather can help you prepare for an impending downpour. And you’d know when to go back to your campsite. Here are some signs that bad weather is approaching:

1. Changes in air pressure

Changes in air pressure can indicate weather changes. Low air pressure usually suggests that rain clouds are brewing and headed towards your area. On the other hand, an increase in air pressure often means that a sunny day is on the horizon.

But how would you determine air pressure changes when outdoors? One way to do so is observing the direction of campfire smoke. If the smoke descends, the air pressure is low. If the smoke goes upwards then the air pressure is high.

You may also observe the flight of birds. When birds fly low, there is a decrease in air pressure.

A flock of seagulls fly low in the sky over sea waves. Hard wind and sea foam.

A professor at California State University, Dr. Roger Lederer, explains that low air pressure makes it hard for birds to fly since air is less dense. Moreover, low air pressure can hurt ears of birds so they are forced to fly low.

Of course, you can always rely on your hiking watch. Most of the best hiking watches have a built-in barometer that can tell you changes in air pressure. Garmin Fenix 5 is an example of a hiking watch that can prove handy in determining air pressure levels.

2. Cloud types and activity

Clouds are among the most reliable indicators that bad weather is approaching. High-level clouds which are puffy and dark in color often mean that rains are on the way.

Even cloud direction can be indicative of foul weather. Clouds that are going in different directions usually mean that bad weather is coming.

Of course, you can always refer to the kind of clouds in predicting bad weather. There are actually 10 types of clouds but you only need to be familiar with four cirrocumulus, cirrostratus, altocumulus, and cumulonimbus.

Cirrocumulus clouds are high level clouds that look like fish scales. They may also appear like ripples. In tropical regions, the appearance of cirrocumulus clouds suggests that a hurricane is forthcoming.

Another kind of high level clouds, cirrostratus are described as thin sheets spreading across the sky. These clouds can give the sky a whitish, pale appearance. More often than not, these clouds appear 12 to 24 hours prior to a rainstorm.

Altocumulus is a mid-level cloud made up of water droplets. They look like layers of puffy, gray small clouds.

When these clouds appear on a warm and humid morning, there’s a high chance that thunderstorms may form later in the afternoon.

Cumulonimbus clouds are low lying clouds that have dark bases. These clouds can indicate bad weather like thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, heavy rain, and snow.

If you want to get a better idea of how these clouds look like, you may want to watch this video.

Cloud Types & Identification

3. Animal behavior

We’ve already mentioned how birds flying low can indicate low air pressure which may mean that rains are forthcoming.

Aside from birds, there are other animals that you can observe to help you predict bad weather.

The behavior of insects like ants can be indicative of bad weather. Ants typically stay close to the opening of their ant hills prior to a rain storm because of the low air pressure.

Some insects may become more active when rains are approaching. Fleas and wasps tend to bite and sting people more fiercely. 

In an article published on the Chicago Tribune, meteorologist Tom Skilling cites the explanation of Dr. Ken Paige of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana who says that increased insect activity is a direct result of changing air pressure.

Dr. Paige says that insects need to get through the bad weather, so they become more active in feeding in order to do so.

4. Plants and trees

There’s a popular saying that rains would follow when leaves show their undersides. You may dismiss this saying as part of weather folklore but our forefathers were right: the undersides of leaves can really indicate that rain is on its way.

Journalist Jaime McLeod, writing for the Farmers Almanac, says that leaves of certain deciduous trees such as poplars and maples turn upward before a heavy rain. She cites that this is due to the sudden increase in humidity preceding a storm.

Flowers, too, smell better prior to rains. Experts say that this is due to lower air pressure enabling aromatic substances in flowers to escape. Those substances are often trapped by high air pressure which explains why the scents of flowers are more noticeable before rains.

So when outdoors, try to be more observant. Focus on the smell of plants and trees. Pine trees, in particular, are known to have a sharper smell before a heavy rainfall.


You don’t need those weather apps to predict the forthcoming bad weather. You can always rely on the power of observation particularly of things around you.Summing things up, here are the four things you can observe to predict bad weather:

  • Low air pressure usually means that rains are on its way. Aside from relying on the barometer function of your hiking, you can observe the flight of the birds and direction of campfire smoke to determine if air pressure is increasing or decreasing.
  • Clouds are among the best indicators of bad weather. You should familiarize yourself with these cloud types— cirrocumulus, cirrostratus, altocumulus, and cumulonimbus.
  • Animal behavior can be indicative of foul weather. Aside from birds flying low, increased activity of insects may suggest of low air pressure and forthcoming bad weather.
  • Finally, the smell of trees and plants is typically more pronounced prior to rains.Do you think you can now predict bad weather? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below if you have any.

Hi! I'm Demi and welcome to my blog. Here, I will share everything I know about enjoying and surviving the outdoors. Whether you love to go outdoors, you will find interesting and informational articles on this blog.

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