It is hard to accurately predict when rain will come to relieve your plants of thirst, but perhaps by looking up at the clouds, you’ll have an idea of whether you need to get the water hose out! Here are three cloud classifications that you’ll need to know to help with your decision, courtesy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac Book of Garden Wisdom. Unfortunately … turtle-, dragon-, and baby-shape clouds don’t count!
- Cumulus. Also called cauliflower clouds, these are the white, fluffy heads of rising columns of air. Old-timers said, “If woolly fleeces spread the heavenly way, be sure no rain disturbs the summer’s day.” But this prophecy applies only as long as the clouds remain white and horizontal, like sheep’s fleece. When these formations turn to the dark cumulonimbus variety (also known as thunderclouds), watch for rain.
- Stratus. A low layer of flat, sheetlike gray clouds, created by the general rise of a layer of air. “Yellow streaks in sunset sky,” the old proverbs says, “wind and daylong rain are nigh.”
- Cirrus. These curly, lacy clouds, composed entirely of ice crystals, form high in the sky, created by whirls or eddies in the air. They’re often described as “feathery” and reminiscent of mares’ tails. As long as the tails point downward, fair weather is likely to lie ahead. But when the tails turn upward, rain is likely.