Maddie's Blog

When you wake up, what’s one of the first things you do before you decide what to wear?  You ask Alexa or Siri, pull up an app, or watch local TV for the forecast.  

You could just look at some plants and animals in your own backyard.

Nature is full of clues about approaching weather.  

Plant Prophets

You should get a silver thistle.  These flowers hate it when rain gets inside them, so they close their petals as a precautionary measure before it rains, to cover the interior of the flower. 

You could also get daisies. Daisies close their petals or droop when rain is on the way to avoid a single raindrop from getting inside. This only works during the day though because daisies close up at night.

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Animal forecasters

Animals are also forecasters.

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Minuscule Thrip

The miniscule thrip, or thunderbug, has paddle-like wings. The thrip is so small and its wings are so tiny, flying through the air would be like you or me swimming. Warm and humid air is dense, making flying easy. So when these bugs are out, expect humid and wet air. It may explain all the ladybugs flying around your shower in the summer. 

Same thing for mosquitoes. Like the thunderbug, then cannot handle the cool, drier air because their wings can’t move fast enough to stay airborne in that less dense air. They need the humidity! 

Croaking frogs also provide a weather clue. During their mating season, at night, you can hear the males’ little hearts singing (croaking) to attract a mate. This tells us rain is on the way. The male frog loves the rain. Rain makes pools for their tadpoles to develop, so when they sense rain’s on the way, they start to sing.

Ever see a ring around the moon? That’s moonlight reflecting through ice crystal prisms in cirrus clouds high up in the sky. This usually means rain is on the way.  

South wind and a darkening sky to the west? Uh oh, that’s probably a storm coming in. 

In the summer, ever see puffy clouds getting taller, and taller, and taller?  Rain’s about to fall out of them. After all, a rainstorm is a tall, heavy, cloud made of water. Pay special attention to this cloud.

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Pileus clouds form when the air higher up in the
sky is forced to rise.

That’s a pileus cloud, a cloud with a hat. The pileus clouds tells us the cumulonimbus cloud is rapidly growing and we can expect heavy precipitation.

Scientists don’t always need instruments or doppler radars to predict the weather and neither do you.  Look at the sky, look at the flowers, observe the animals and all the things around you. You can become your own weather predictor and experience the beautiful world we live in through the wonders of nature.