Weather Proverbs and Prognostics: Rain and Clouds

August 18, 2017
Afternoon clouds over the water
Tammy Dunn

Predict the weather with our collection of weather proverbs and folklore about rain and clouds.

  • Unusual clearness in the atmosphere, with distant objects seen distinctly, indicates rain.
  • Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.
  • Evening red and morning gray are sure signs of a fine day. Evening gray and morning red, put on your hat or you’ll wet your head.
  • If it rains before seven, it will clear before eleven.
  • Rain from the south prevents the drought, but rain from the west is always best.
  • Anvil-shaped clouds bring on a gale.
  • A cloud with a round top and flat base carries rainfall on its face.
  • When small clouds join and thicken, expect rain.
  • Black clouds in the north in winter indicates approaching snow.
  • When there is enough blue sky to patch a Dutchman’s breeches, expect clearing weather
  • A curdly sky will not leave the earth long dry.
  • If you see clouds going crosswind, there is a storm in the air.
  • Hen scarts and filly tails make lofty ships wear low sails.
  • Clouds floating low enough to cast shadows on the ground are usually followed by rain.
  • Mackerel sky, mackerel sky, never long wet, never long dry.
  • If three nights dewless there be,  ‘twill rain, you’re sure to see.
  • If a heavy dew soon dries, expect fine weather; if it lingers on the grass, expect rain in 24 hours.
  • With dew before midnight, the next day sure will be bright.
  • If you wet your feet with dew in the morning, you may keep them dry for the rest of the day.

Did we miss any? Share your favorite weather lore!

Credit: Kassie Rogeness


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A mackerel sky is filled with

A mackerel sky is filled with a regular pattern of altocumulus clouds somewhat resembling the skin of a mackerel. I think a curdly sky is the same as a "buttermilk sky" also patterned formations but more like lumpy cloud puffs- reminds me of the Hoagy Carmichael song "Ole buttermilk sky, I'm keepin' my eye peeled on you -What's the good word tonight -are you gonna be mellow tonight?"

curdled sky is the same as

curdled sky is the same as buttermilk sky - that was one of the ways my grandfather watched for rain. Curdled/Buttermilk sky is usually altocumulus clouds -usually on a warm and humid summer morning & usually followed by thunderstorms. We dont have mackerels in this area so I guess that mackerel sky never became a catch phrase down in my neck of the woods.

In England we have a little

In England we have a little rhyme.
Mackerel sky,mackerel sky,not long wet,not long dry.

What is a description of a

What is a description of a "mackerel sky" and is it similar to a "curdly sky"?

I find many of the proverbs accurate enough to be useful and have found some here that are new to me.