How do you find out what the weather’s going to be like later today, or tomorrow, or even the day after that? Most likely you turn your TV over to the Weather Channel, go to your favourite weather site on the web or fire up a weather app on your smart phone. Yet, if (or should that be when?) civilisation collapses and you’re left fighting for you life against the zombies which now rule the land, none of these options will be available to you, and all you’ll have to rely on is your own weather forecasting skills. I know what you’re thinking: ‘If there’s zombies every where, why the hell am I going to need to know what the weather’s doing? I mean, I’m not exactly going to be throwing a barbecue and inviting the neighbours round, am I?’
However, you couldn’t be more wrong. Sudden storms can bring down your defences if you’re not prepared for them, while high winds, heavy rain and unexpected frosts can damaged crops and food supplies. Lightening strikes can start bush fires and tornadoes destroy buildings. Snow storms and flash floods can trap you out in the open if they catch you unawares, while hurricanes can level whole cities (or whatever’s left of them!). All of this is on top of having to face the daily struggles to find enough food and avoid being eaten by the rampaging dead. Yet, the weather needn’t be a problem for you if you know what’s coming and can prepare for it ahead of time. It’s only when it catches you with your guard down that it’s dangerous.
So how can you tell what’s coming your way? The secret here is being able to read the skies and unlock the information they holds. Mostly this is about knowing what different cloud formations (or lack there of) mean.For example, dramatic cloud formations on the horizon can mean bad weather’s coming your way. In particular, keep an eye out for clouds, such as lenticular ones, which can indicate turbulence up in the sky and can indicated a front is coming, bringing with it rain, winds and cooler temperatures. While lenticular clouds indicate a turbulent atmosphere above your head, the high fluffy Stratus clouds indicate stability, and so mean good weather. When you see these clouds you know there is little you need to worry about, well apart from the fact the world has come to an end … the zombies of course! Then there’s the convection clouds. These are isolated cloud formations created by warm air rising up into the sky. They start out as little puffy balls, but given time, they can build, first into Cumulus and then Cumulonimbus clouds which can bring sudden, torrential rain, strong winds, thunder and lightning. If you see Cumulonimbus clouds forming in your vicinity, you’ll want to find shelter fast, but you still need to keep an eye on them. Why? Because given the right conditions, thunder clouds can turn into tornadoes, and given the damage tornadoes can do, you need to be able to tell if one is forming in the skies nearby. The key is to keep an eye out for little tendrils of cloud reaching down from the base of the cloud towards the ground. These are the first signs that a twister might be on its way. The next sign is when they start to develop into funnel clouds. If they do, that’s the time to get out of the way, and fast, because you don’t want to be anywhere near it when it touches down. Of course, there can be more information in the skies than just the weather. Vultures or other scavenging birds circling in the sky can indicate something’s wrong up ahead because there must be something dead to draw them together. And where there’s dead things, there’s probably zombies feasting, meaning the area is best avoided. Birds can also tell you other things too. Swallows fly closer to the ground when rain is on its way, while a flock of birds suddenly bursting into the air en masse means something’s startled them, and that may well mean undead are approaching. Then there’s the signs of hope that can be up there in the skies above our heads. Think about one of the key moments in 28 Days Later, where Jim spots a plane leaving its characteristic contrail streaking across the sky above the trees. Whenever I see this now, I always think post-apocalyptic thoughts and wonder how I’d cope if the rage virus really did exist.
So hopefully this has shown you that being able to read the skies is an important skill to have in your post-apocalyptic survival tool kit and, with that in mind, here’s a challenge for you. Below is a photo of a real sky where something dramatic has clearly happened. I took in the 1990s on Tilloo Cay in the Bahamas, looking west towards Florida.
I’ll give a free, signed copy of my book For Those In Peril On The Sea and a limited edition For Those In Peril On The Sea promotional coffee mug to one person who correctly identifies what the photo below tells you about what happened here. If I get more than one right answer, I’ll randomly select a winner from all those who get it right. This competition will be open until next Monday (the 5th of August 2013) and I’ll post the winner, and more importantly the answer, as soon as I can after that. To enter, just fill out the form below the picture itself.
All pictures in this post are copyright Colin M. Drysdale. Please do not use them for any purpose without express written permission.
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.
To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.