Weather Watching: How to Predict & Prepare For Outdoor Conditions

Weather Watching Blog profile Image

Weather Watching: How to Predict & Prepare For Outdoor Conditions

Forecasting and preparing to face the outside environment is not just about being safe but also enjoying the adventure more. It means being prepared and being able to notice the nuances in the weather and climate. This then leads to being able to predict and better prepare for all outdoor conditions.

In this article, I will shed light on weather watching and the necessary steps and tools for effective weather watching. It is vital to pay attention to current weather, have some knowledge of simple meteorology, and use various weather indicators and devices to forecast outside conditions.

So without further delay lets dive into weather watching.

The Importance of Predicting and Preparing for Outdoor Conditions

Several reasons make predicting and preparing for outdoor conditions important. Firstly, it guarantees our security. You will be able to predict the forthcoming weather trends meaning you can make wiser decisions and change your plans based on the prevailing weather. Knowing what weather is expected enables us to pack suitably, dress accordingly, and take important precautions if we are planning a hiking trip, camping, or an extended expedition/thru-hike.

Additionally, forecasting and making provisions for the weather conditions help enhance our outdoor experience. Think of yourself arranging a backpacking trip and then starting that adventure in a heat wave and you only packed warm layers.

Through forecasting, reading weather maps, and satellite images, you will know when changes will happen and you can adjust accordingly. It is also important to be prepared for different weather as this enhances our experience overall.

Steps to Becoming a Weather Watcher

Develop a Keen Interest in Weather

Now I know for most the weather isn’t that interesting. Nevertheless, developing an interest in weather is the first and most important step towards becoming a great weather watcher.

The next time you are taking a stroll observe the clouds and atmosphere. What’s it like and from that predict what the next few hours will consist of. In blue skies this is easy but with low hanging clouds and grey skies it becomes a bit more complicated. In these scenarios instead try to predict how many hours till it rains.

Also you can observe how the local weather effects your daily routine and commute. Note down how the various weather patterns bring about feelings in you and what impact those make in your immediate surroundings. By developing such an interest, you will start sensing the intricacies of the weather, and you will want to know more about it.

Understand Basic Meteorology

Weather is such a broad term and for the budding weather enthusiast, the word is meteorology. Having a basic knowledge and curiosity of meteorology will greatly help to accurately predict or prepare for any conditions that might occur on your adventures. Learn about topics like temperature, humidity, pressure, and winds. Discover the different issues affecting weather, including air mass, fronts, and atmospheric pressure. With an understanding of these basics, you will have a good base when it comes to analyzing and interpreting weather information.

Learn to Identify Clouds

In addition to meteorology, clouds will be a useful guide to the prevailing and future forecast of weather. Unfortunately for this article going over all the cloud types and their meaning is somewhat of a University Dissertation. However, being able to recognize the common ones is a good first step.

Being able to identify different kinds of cloud configurations can be of help as you make forecasts for weather changes. It should also be noted that cumulus clouds are indicative of stormy conditions. The thin and wispy type clouds or cirrus clouds may precede a change in weather patterns as well. In this whole article clouds are probably the biggest and most difficult to understand as so many look similar. For this reason, just being able to see the common ones and their direction is more important.

Common types of clouds to know

Observe and Record Weather Data

Another worthy tip to becoming a weather watcher is to become accustomed to noting down daily weather details. For instance, just jotting down atmospheric conditions, including the temperature, the direction of the wind, and precipitation levels, could suffice through an ordinary journal entry or utilizing a weather app on your phone. Monitoring such observations becomes essential because they will show a pattern in which it is possible to make a more reliable prediction. You can also record weather data so that you can compare it with the official weather reports or forecasts to make your observation better in future.

Utilize Weather Tools and Instruments

Make sure you've got the essentials in your weather-watching toolkit. Invest in a quality thermometer to track temperature, wind speed, and a rain gauge for measuring precipitation. Grab a barometer at home to monitor air pressure changes and a hygrometer to keep an eye on moisture levels. Having these tools handy will provide crucial info and help you make informed decisions when planning outdoor activities based on the weather. Of course not all are necessary but if your weather-watching becomes a second profession then getting a few tools will greatly enhance your ability.

Analyze Weather Maps and Imagery

Another crucial point to weather watching is to be able to understand what the weatherman is saying on the news. Learning the meaning of the symbols and patterns that weather mapmakers use is the first step. Always check weather satellite imagery for signs of cloud cover, storm systems, or any other visual weather cue. These maps and imagery allow you to understand the patterns of weather and enhance your ability to predict it. This is a must for longer backpacking trips and camping.

Stay Updated on Weather Forecasts

Weather watching also entails taking note of the latest meteorological predictions that can assist in the planning process. Look out for trustworthy weather websites and applications, or listen to weather radio stations for the latest information and updates. Ensure you pay attention to any extreme weather warnings that can disrupt your arrangements as well. Bear in mind also that the weather may change without warning; hence, staying informed is the best option.

Join Weather Enthusiast Clubs or Communities

Lastly sharing ideas with other weather enthusiasts will increase your knowledge and interest in weather watching. Find and participate in various local weather clubs and online communities where you can freely share observations as well as other relevant weather observations like this one. Interacting with similar people, you will have a supportive environment where you can continue to learn.

My favourite weather watchers are surfers and climbers as they are always checking the weather to know when the next big swell will be coming or looking for a dry period when the walls for climbing are optimal.

Tools Needed for Weather Watching

It is important to know that a few pieces of equipment are needed for you to be able to be good at weather watching. These instruments will provide you with authentic details that can then facilitate forecasts on weather conditions away from home.


Weather reading wind tool

Here are some of the key tools you should consider:

Thermometer: A good thermometer is important when it comes to taking accurate temperature measurements. Nowadays this can be done on a smartwatch, or phone as well as from your car.

Anemometer: An anemometer measures the speed and direction of wind. These are great for understanding wind conditions and are especially appropriate during sailing, windsurfing, and drone flying.

Barometer: The other example of a weather instrument is that of a barometer – this measures atmospheric pressure and is considered a fundamental weather signal change. When you closely watch how the pressure in the atmosphere fluctuates, you can predict the possible shifts in weather conditions and prepare yourself accordingly.

Hygrometer: A hygrometer is an instrument used for measuring humidity in the air. Understanding humidity is necessary in terms of evaluating comfort levels, the possibility of rainfall occurrence, and the development of certain weather phenomena (for instance, thunderstorms).

All these tools can be bought and used at your home too which can further your understanding and meteorology proficiency.

Preparing for Different Weather Conditions

Now that we have discussed the essential tools and the steps to proficiency let’s discuss preparation in more detail as this relates more to us. Here are some tips for preparing for various weather conditions.

Hot Weather

Some dangers of hot weather include heat exhaustion and dehydration. To stay safe and comfortable:

  • Dress appropriately: Select loose and light fabrics for clothing that will allow airflow to protect your skin from the sun.

  • Stay hydrated: Drink lots and lots of water, and use a titanium water bottle to boil water from any water source while backpacking.

  • Seek shade: Avoid sun during the peak of midday. Remember to go for a cover from the sun to not only reduce energy consumption but also prevent heat exhaustion.

  • Protect yourself from the sun: Wear a brimmed hat together with sunglasses and reapply your sunscreen regularly to avoid UV rays.

Cold Weather

Hypothermia and frostbite require insulation and protection during colder conditions.

  • Dress in layers: Ensure that you add multiple layers of clothing. Start with a moisture-wicking bottom layer, incorporate some warming layers, and place them on the final waterproof and windproof outer layer.

  • Cover your extremities: Wear gloves or mittens, a hat, and warm socks to avoid losing heat through the head, hands, and feet.

  • Stay dry: Purchase garments made out of natural fibers like Merino and stay away from cotton and materials that don’t dry.


In gusty weather, going out is both difficult and hazardous. Here's how to prepare:

  • Choose the right clothing: To ensure that you stay protected, wear some windproof clothing that is tight fitting preventing blowing.

  • Secure your gear: Make sure your equipment is firmly secured, thus avoiding being blown away.

  • Be aware of your surroundings: be careful of low-hanging branches, broken objects, and things being blown by the wind.


During rainy weather it is essential to stay dry and protected.

  • Wear waterproof clothing: Make sure your jacket, pants and waterproofs are of high quality for adequate protection.

  • Protect your electronics: Always ensure that you keep your electronic gadgets in safe waterproof covers or bags to avoid them getting wet.

  • Be aware of your surroundings: Remember that rain can make the road surfaces quite slippery and also warn you of such dangers arising from rains, like falling of branches or even flash flooding. Choose safer routes that are immune to floods.

Safe Weather-Watching Practices

Weather watching can be a thrilling hobby when paired with backpacking, but it is always necessary to put safety first. Here are some essential safety and preparedness practices:

  • Before venturing out, always check the weather forecasts and plan ahead.

  • Do not participate in outdoor activities during extreme weather conditions.

  • Be conscious of hazards that come with various weather elements and observe the appropriate safety measures.

  • Carry appropriate safety equipment such as a first aid kit, emergency shelter, and communication devices.

Check out our wilderness first aid article where we go into detail about the common injuries outdoors as well as first aid kit essentials.


Staying ahead of the weather game involves not just predicting but also preparing for diverse outdoor conditions. By integrating these tools and strategies into your routine, you're not merely observing weather patterns—you're empowering yourself to make calculated choices, whether it's for a weekend adventure or daily outdoor activities. The foresight gained from these methods ensures you're not caught off guard, allowing you to relish outdoor experiences while staying safe and ready for whatever nature throws your way.

To your next adventure!


Older post Newer post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published