One thing that we take for granted in our modern age is ready access to sophisticated weather forecasting, complete with satellite imagery. But when the Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF) and the power grid and Internet go adios, those will no longer be available. Under these same circumstances, gardening, hay cutting, and small scale grain raising will be crucial. You will need to be able to predict the weather with some accuracy. If you cut your hay at the wrong time–just before the advent of a wet summer weather system–you could end up with a moldy hay crop. And if you delay your late summer harvest a week too long and your vegetable garden is hit by an early frost, you could lose a substantial part of your annual crop. Either of those could be disastrous for a family that is dependent on subsistence farming to fill their larder. So I strongly recommend that you learn how to predict weather the old-fashioned way, with a thermometer, a barometer, an anemometer, a hygrometer, and some cloud-reading skills.
I recommend traditional mercury bulb thermometers. The latest electronic thermometers are fantastic, but there is a lot that can go wrong with them. Instead, buy a traditional glass outdoor thermometer in a sturdy housing with easy-to-read gradations.
The barometer is the crucial tool for weather prediction. With the current high price of mercury, barometers are very expensive to buy brand new. But used barometers can often be found used at thrift stores for just a few dollars. (In fact the mercury that they contain can often have a scrap value that is more than the asking price for the instrument!) Just be sure to get a well-made modern instrument that has a tick-marked front scale, an adjustable reference pointer (to compare daily rising or falling pressure readings) and a properly-marked “offset” adjustment dial on the back to compensate for your local elevation. Note to high elevation residents: Many barometers have adjustment dials that go no higher than 3,000 feet. Check on this before you make a purchase!
OBTW, it was recently reported that the EU has banned the production of new barometers and thermometers that use mercury. (They will be phased out in the next two years.) So much for tradition! Readers of SurvivalBlog in Europe should buy their traditional instruments soon, before prices inevitably rise.
And anemometer (wind speed instrument) is another important tool to have at your disposal. Unfortunately these have also gone “high tech ” in recent years. But if you shop around (for example on eBay) you can often find traditional mechanical/analog instruments that don’t requires batteries. Many of the better anemometer units report both wind speed and direction. The ones built for maritime use seem to be the most sturdy and resistant to corrosion. New units are expensive, so yet again, it pays to shop around for a used one.
A less important but still useful tool is a hygrometer (humidity gauge). You will of course want an outdoor humidity gauge. And again, traditional technology is preferable to high tech for WTSHTF preparedness.
Cloud Reading Skills
The art of cloud reading is complex and requires graphics to explain, so I will suffice here with some pointers to some good books and web sites:
Cloud Reading Books:
Cloud Reading Web Sites:
Many of the instruments that I’ve mentioned are available from Wind & Weather. They are one of our Affiliate Advertisers. (By using any of our Affiliate links, SurvivalBlog will get a small commission if you place an order.)