A couple of week ago, I discussed how you could use jet contrails to help predict the weather. If there are no jets around, wait until darkness starts to set in. Cirrus clouds high in the atmosphere carry moist air and ice crystals that reflect light and create a ring or halo around the moon. It’s an interesting and beautiful phenomenon, but one that also lets you know rain is on the way. Conversely, the hiking will be good for a day or too when the clear, dry air that proceeds a high pressure system lets you see the shaded, dark part of the moon during its crescent phase.

The oaks and maples of the Blue Ridge’s vast deciduous forests can also help decide if you should keep rain gear close at hand. Their leaves begin to curl when the humidity is high and strong winds begin to blow, indicating that a storm is on the way.

Even those long reaching vistas that you huff and puff up hillsides to enjoy can help you predict a storm. Dust particles in the air begin to settle to the ground in response to a change in air pressure, so be prepared for wetter conditions if a hazy view changes to one with clearer air and the far off mountains appear closer and more sharply defined.