What you need to know about weather and your mobile signal

Quick tips on what to do when you have no reception but need it.

Learning the variables in your phone’s signal strength can help you find better reception. This is important because one day, your life may depend upon it.

As you probably know, the signal strength is indicated by the five bars on your phone’s display. The more bars you have, the better the signal and the faster that data downloads and the clearer the phone connection. Here’s a quick rundown of how weather can affect your mobile phone and what you can do about it.

Mobile signals in different weather conditions

Rain: Rain weakens your mobile signal more than any other kind of weather. The larger the drops and the more of them there are, the weaker your signal will be.

Hail: Hail is less dense than water and it tends to fall less intensely than rain, so its impact on your signal will be less than heavy rain.

Lightning: Lightning can cause electrical interference but more likely will affect your signal due to damaging power sources and the transmission equipment itself.

Physical obstruction: This is the most common limitation on mobile signals. Signals work through line-of-sight. Meaning a mountain between you and the mobile tower will stop the signal from reaching you, regardless of the distance. Buildings, vehicles, and even your own body can also interfere with your reception.

How can you overcome this?

You can achieve line-of-sight with a cell tower just by heading to high ground. If you’re in a storm, your reception might improve enough to place a call after it has ended.

In some conditions, switching away from 4G to a 3G network may give you a signal. Many phones allow you to change this in ‘settings’. It’s worth trying if you cannot access a 4G signal.

It’s also worth knowing that you can call 000 across the networks of carriers, even if you are not their customer. Your phone might not display signal bars to show the presence of a different company’s signal, but the emergency call will go through nonetheless.