Weather Lore

An infallible weather forecast, if a change of weather is coming up:

‘Wind then rain. No pain.

Rain then wind, stay in!’


In plain words this says that when rain comes first without wind then expect a long period of bad weather with high winds and heavy rain. But when wind comes first and is followed immediately by rain, then fine weather will follow at short notice.

Many people are trapped by bad weather in the bush every year, and if they but knew of this simple weather sign they could be prepared, and get out to a position of safety before really bad weather sets in.

Another infallible weather signal is the appearance of cumulus nimbus cloud, a foreteller of thunderstorms. While a greenish light in the sky preceding a thunderstorm is an almost certain sign of heavy hail. Halos (or circles) around the sun or moon also almost invariably mean rain is on its way.

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight.

Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.

A red sky – in the morning or evening, is a result of high pressure air in the atmosphere trapping particles of dust or soot. Air molecules scatter the shorter blue wavelengths of sunlight, but particles of dust, soot and other aerosols scatter the longer red wavelength of sunlight in a process called Rayleigh scattering. At sunrise and sunset, the sun is lower in the sky causing the sunlight to travel through more of the atmosphere so scattering more light.This effect is further enhanced when there are at least some high level clouds to reflect this light back to the ground.

When weather systems predominantly move from west to east. A red sky at night indicates that the high pressure air (and better weather) is westwards. In the morning the light is eastwards, and so a red sky then indicates the high pressure (and better weather) has already passed, and an area of low pressure is following behind.

Clouds And Their Reading

Cirrus: This is the “mare’s tail” sky of the landsman, shows as long threads or wisps of cloud. This is the highest of all cloud formations, and is a sign of a “high” barometric pressure, which means fine weather.

Cirro Stratus, and Cirro Cumulus: In these clouds the former is long wispy, cloud, and in the latter rounded small cloud the typical “mackerel” sky. Both are indicators of a high barometric pressure, and fine weather.

Cumulus and Cumulus Nimbus: Cumulus is the high white piled-up masses of cloud seen in summer. When streaked with horizontal bands it is Cumulus Nimbus, or thunder cloud, a sign of coming storms, which may be of short duration, or may indicate a change in the weather generally.

Nimbus: This is the grey ragged cloud which uniformly covers the sky. It is the true rain cloud, and an indication of low barometric pressure and rainy weather.

Storm Scud: This is formless masses of very low cloud driven fast before the wind. It is a sign of very low barometric pressure, and continuing bad weather.

A light-weight radio (such as this: might be a good way to keep up with the weather forecast as well as providing other entertainment. I have not been able to find a better than this one at 91 grams.

Tip: When heading up the bush it is particularly important to check the wind forecast. You need to know which way the prevailing wind is going to be coming from (You can’t just rely on the observation that it ‘always’ comes from the West – no matter that this is true most of the time). A sudden change to0 the east will mean your tent is pitched the wrong way around. This is particularly important if the wind change is going to occur in the middle of the night in which case you need to pitch it so that it suits both wind directions – if possible. (it usually is!)

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