Predict the Weather!

You don't need a weather app to predict rain or shine—you just need nature!

You don't need the latest weather app to predict rain or shine. All you need is nature! Check out how observing what's going on around you can help you predict the weather.

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Want to know how hot it is outside? Listen to a cricket! By counting the number of times a cricket chirps, you can calculate the temperature. Here’s how: Count the number of times a cricket chirps in 14 seconds and add 40 to that number. The total is the temperature in Fahrenheit. Take a few measurements and then use the average to determine the temperature.

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If you find a lot of spiderwebs inside your house, it means it might get cold soon. Spiders go indoors to seek shelter when the weather is cool. Venomous black widow spiders especially don’t like low temperatures, so be careful to look out for them in your home’s dark corners, such as basements and closets! Ladybugs can also help predict cold weather. These critters cluster under leaves or bark to protect them from the weather, but in many U. S. states, some have found a different warm place to spend winter—human homes! If you spot one or a whole group of them swarming in your house, chances are that winter is coming.

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Pinecones are one way to tell if dry weather is coming. Pinecones open their scales when the weather gets extremely dry. They do this to scatter their seeds. When the air is moist, they close up to keep their seeds dry. Pine seeds are transported by the wind, so they have to stay as dry and as light as possible in order to fly. Dust and sand, of course, travel in much the same way. So if a pinecone's scales are open, be on the lookout for dry weather.

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Up to 12 hours before a thunderstorm, black flies and mosquitoes might swarm. Then about an hour before the storm hits, they disappear. These bugs like humidity, which is water or moisture in the air. But like humans, they don’t like getting too wet and take cover from all the rain a thunderstorm causes. So before it rains, flies and mosquitoes hide.

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How close is lightning? The U.S. National Weather Service says you can find out how far you are from lightning by counting the time between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. By dividing the number of seconds between lightning and thunder by five, you can learn how far away in miles the lightning has hit. For example, if you hear thunder five seconds after a flash, tlightning is is a mile away. (Five divided by five equals one.) If you hear thunder 25 seconds after a flash, lightning is five miles away.

Adapted from the book Extreme Weather by Thomas M. Kostigen