When you left the Jeep by the trail, and began heading down the oak leaf-covered footpath that winds its way up the mountain ridge, you felt certain about today’s weather. You had enjoyed a gorgeous night of tenting under the stars and a delicious breakfast, but then it hits you: the realization that the sky seems to be turning darker by the hour.
Before long, you’re getting the distinct impression that you might have just hiked 16 miles into the woods, only to shiver in the rain, and may even be forced to head home in defeat. And then there’s always the possibility that this might just be … well … a bunch of rainless clouds.
This is going to be one tough call to make.
And even if you had brought your smartphone with you, and not left it in the Jeep, it wouldn’t have done much good. There are no smartphone towers around here, and technology isn’t really going to help you in this situation.
Many have suggested that a hiker’s barometer/thermometer watch could provide data on the current situation, but unfortunately, most in the “affordable range” tend not to work effectively. Besides, you’d also have to know how to interpret this data, and it’s not even going to offer near the accuracy that you’d get from two important pieces of gear — items that you had with you all along: your eyes and your brain.
Your eyes can see the data, and your brain can do a darn good job of interpreting it. So, here are just a few of the basics on reading the clouds for when you have just as much need for a smartphone in the woods today, as just another text from the boss.
Clouds You Should Know
To start off, here’s a quick little guide on how to identify the clouds overhead, along with descriptions on what they mean: