Q I’m always getting caught in bad weather when I’m out on a run. Do you have any tips for checking the sky on the way out the door to tell if the weather is likely to change?
A The best way to check the weather is to watch your local weather forecast. The UK has some of the most in-depth and informative weather forecasting in the world, so do a quick check on the TV or online before you head out. Otherwise, here are some do-it-yourself weather-forecasting tips:
Mornings are the best time to avoid running in the rain because the clouds have not had time to ‘bubble up’ into potential rain carriers, which happens as temperatures rise in daylight hours.
Tune in to the sky’s hue
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Red sky at night, shepherds’ delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherds take warning.” Well, those statements are pretty accurate. A red sunset means the weather is clear as you look west. Since weather systems usually move west to east, this indicates clearer weather is on the way. Red sky in the morning means clouds to the west, which may mean rain is coming.
Take note of clouds
Dark clouds are an obvious sign of potential rain, but puffy cumulus clouds can pop up in the afternoons on fair days without the risk of rain. But if there are large cauliflower-shaped clouds, or if the wind is shifting round from west to south (wind always moves anticlockwise around a centre of low pressure) at the same time as wispy clouds are thickening, rain may be on the way. And an easy way to detect incoming thunderstorms is to flip your radio to the AM band. Increasing static usually means approaching storms.
Invest in a barometer
Your parents and grandparents probably had one as an ornament, and this nifty device for monitoring atmospheric pressure can be very useful. Simply put, high pressure tends to be rain-free, while low pressure means more chance of getting wet.
Check in with Mother Nature
Crickets and grasshoppers chirping loudly indicate fair weather, while many plants (eg tulips) close their flowers before rain. Finally, cockroaches are more active before a storm – but if you notice this, consider skipping your run and taking care of things at home!
—Nigel Bolton, senior national forecaster at the Met Office in Bracknell and a runner for 30 years