Weather Sayings and Their Meanings

Folklore: What Does It Mean?

Ominous Storm Clouds

Ready for do-it-yourself weather predicting? Long before meteorologists had sophisticated technology to help them predict the weather, people made forecasts based on their observations of the sky, animals, and nature.

Many of the traditional sayings they used, called proverbs, are accurate. Try out some old-fashioned forecasting—that still works today!

The higher the clouds, the finer the weather.

If you spot wispy, thin clouds up where jet airplanes fly, expect a spell of pleasant weather.

Keep an eye, however, on the smaller puff clouds (cumulus), especially if it’s in the morning or early afternoon. If the rounded tops of these clouds, which have flat bases, grow higher than the one cloud’s width, then there’s a chance of a thunderstorm forming.

Clear Moon, frost soon.

When the night sky is clear, Earth’s surface cools rapidly—there is no cloud cover to keep the heat in. If the night is clear enough to see the Moon and the temperature drops enough, frost will form. Expect a chilly morning!

When clouds appear like towers, the Earth is refreshed by frequent showers.

When you spy large, white clouds that look like cauliflower or castles in the sky, there is probably lots of dynamic weather going on inside. Innocent clouds look like billowy cotton, not towers. If the clouds start to swell and take on a gray tint, they’re probably turn into thunderstorms.  Watch out!

Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning.

A rainbow in the morning indicates that a shower is west of us and we will probably get it.

Ring around the moon? Rain real soon.

A ring around the moon usually indicates an advancing warm front, which means precipitation. Under those conditions, high, thin clouds get lower and thicker as they pass over the moon. Ice crystals are reflected by the moon’s light, causing a halo to appear.

Rain foretold, long last. Short notice, soon will pass.

If you find yourself toting an umbrella around for days “just in case,” rain will stick around for several hours when it finally comes. The gray overcast dominating the horizon means a large area is affected. Conversely, if you get caught in a surprise shower, it’s likely to be short-lived.

Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.

A reddish sunset means that the air is dusty and dry. Since weather in North American latitudes usually moves from west to east, a red sky at sunset means dry weather—good for sailing—is moving east. Conversely, a reddish sunrise means that dry air from the west has already passed over us on their way easy, clearing the way for a storm to move in.

Observe the sky and see if these proverbs work for you!

Source: 

The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids, Volume 1

Reader Comments

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Stormy weather

I read this in a book: "Mackerel skies and mares' tails make tall ships wear short sails." It's absolutely true. Two nights ago, we had a mackerel sky that went from one horizon to the other. Yesterday and today, we've had 24-28 mph winds. There are wind and small craft advisories going. Handling a sailing ship in this weather would be dicey going if you didn't reef your sails. It's not so fun for driving either.

When flowers bloom twice, there will be a hard winter

Is this true? And if so, what does it mean? I'm currently doing a project for Journalism class, and I decided to do Fall Folk Lore. One of my partners mentioned this, saying his family has said it before, and it seemed like a decent idea. Problem is, I couldn't find it anywhere. Have you ever heard of it?

Weather proverbs

We can not say that we are familiar with this proverb but you have to understand that there are thousands of them. They were created by folks who had few to no ways of predicting weather so they observed nature and drew conclusions.

You will see thousands of weather proverbs in a book titled Weather Lore by Richard Inwards. It is available on the web. Here is the 1898 edition. You can download it as a pdf, using the “Ebook-Free” red button at the left.

1898
https://books.google.com/books?id=FrUWiK_ZM0AC&dq=richard%20inwards%20we...

Here is another link to the same thing: https://archive.org/stream/cu31924011803958/cu31924011803958_djvu.txt

Listening to Bird & Insect Activity

So many times I've been outside working or fishing and notice that when all the insect buzzing and bird activity becomes quiet, I've got an hour or less to take cover because a storm is moving in. It's the "absence of noise" that's the indicator. The more abruptly that noise stops, the faster you better get somewhere safe because the storm is coming in fast and hard.
Just wondering if anyone else notices these types of things. The last time it happened, the birds suddenly took cover and got silent. I told my husband we'd better get in because it's going to be bad. 20 minutes later, the EF4 Fairdale, IL tornado was going through the area.

animals and weather

That is a fascinating topic! There are lots of weather folklore that connect animal behavior with changes in weather, based on observers’ experiences from long ago. Today, we know that certain animals, such as some birds, can detect changes in barometric pressure. (Lowering pressure may indicate an approaching storm.) Migrating birds take advantage of this talent to time their flights during better weather. Other birds may stock up on food before a storm, or sea birds may fly inland, or songbirds fly lower. Also, certain animals can hear sounds that are higher or lower pitched than humans can, potentially detecting thunder, wind, or falling rain, before we can.

What's the lore on bag worms

What's the lore on bag worms

"Storm cloud greenish grey,

"Storm cloud greenish grey, funnel on the way" dunno does this apply everywhere but it does here.. Also got that here, somebody else commented it too :Many rowan berries long winter. Sign for long or very cold winter also apple and/or elderberry blossoms in fall.. Talking about winter, can you tell night temperature from the way frost grows on windows ?.. I can, learned from my granny.. If you are interested how it works contact me ..(to much explanation for a comment)

Greetings from Northern Europe

My 93 year old grandmother

My 93 year old grandmother who lives in Michigan said her mother used to say when you hear a cricket chirp it means it is so many days to the first frost.
Has anyone heard this before? She can't remember how many days.

Folklore

Crickets chirp, 6 weeks until frost is what I've always been told.

Houston weatherman said

Houston weatherman said something last week about count chirps add 14 & divide by 2

I never heard of crickets but

I never heard of crickets but I heard it was locust or cadidids and it was about Eight weeks to frost

I don't know much about

I don't know much about guessing the winter, though my knees can certainly warn me of when it will rain of be cold.

I have noticed that Tomatoes seem to know what next years growing season will be like.

If your tomatoes seem to have low meat content and many many small seeds, they are likely expecting a dry season and are leaving extra seeds to improve the odds of some seeds sprouting and perhaps some seeds to hold over for the next year.

If your tomatoes seem to have a lot of meat and produce few but large sized seeds, they are likely expecting more precipitation than normal and need more plant material to grow to absorb the extra moisture. This may explain the saying that "Tomatoes don't like wet feet" which tends to tear the skin if the fruit isn't large enough to use all the moisture.

A Sun Dog, which is a small

A Sun Dog, which is a small rainbow near the sun, predicts a storm coming in 1, 2, or 3 days according to how close it is to the sun.

How about Mountain Ash

How about Mountain Ash Berries,
our tree is so loaded the branches are bending low to the ground.
I heard the more berries the worst the winter will be, last year was a mild winter and not many berries. But the forecast for this winter in the PNW is calling for above normal temps and below normal precip..

I was wondering about this

I was wondering about this too with my oak tree that usually drops average size acorns.. resulting in half way normal winters.. last year they were like bombs coming out of the tree... they were HUGE !!!!this year no acorns at all.. What gives !!!

I know,CRAZY!!!

I know,CRAZY!!!

Nut trees

Isn't it that nut trees, produce every two years. So it's on one year off the next. I'm sure that's the way the pecan trees are. So I would think all nut trees would follow.

Acorns

I was once told if acorns are slim and long, long hard winter and if short and fat a short winter. I do not remember which way it went. Was an MiWok Indian story??

I have the same question

I have the same question about the ash trees this year in the Seattle WA. area. My ash trees have so many berries the branches are hanging down to the ground. Last year the same tree had very few berries. Last Winter was very mild and warm with little rain. They are predicting another warm winter this year, yet the ash Trees are saying something different....

There are weather proverbs

There are weather proverbs about good fruit years, such as:
If the oak bear much mast (acorns), it foreshows a long and hard winter.
Some plants have certain years when they will fruit exuberantly. This is called masting. A great mast year has repercussions down the food chain. No one really knows why plants do this, or what triggers it. One theory says that during a mast year, there are so many fruits, that some are certain to escape predators and grow; during a lean year, the less food will reduce predator populations, which is beneficial when the plant fruits heavily again. Masting requires energy, so usually the following year or so the plant's fruiting will be much lower, but it can be very erratic. Studies have shown that masting years are not solely triggered by weather factors, although they sometimes might play a role. Scientists are looking into other influences, such as chemical signaling and pollen availability.

My dad always said...If it

My dad always said...If it doesn't freeze on the new moon or the full moon, we are safe from frost till the next new or full moon. Since we are in that first frost season, I am looking at the calendar for new moon and full moon dates. The full moon was 9-9 and the next new moon is 9-24, so if that is right, we should be safe till then. Has anyone else ever heard this? Light frost was predicted this morning and I am happy to say it only got to 36 degrees. The corn in the fields really could use a couple more weeks to mature.

Interesting! We don't

Interesting! We don't remember hearing that particular Moon lore, but here are a few others:
Clear Moon, frost soon.
Moonlit nights have the hardest frosts.
Frost that occurs during the dark of the Moon (between full and new) kills fruit buds and blossoms, but frost in the light of the Moon (between new and full) will not.
In winter, when the Moon's horns are sharp and well-defined, frost is expected.
Weather is generally clearer at a full Moon than other phases, but in winter the frost then is sometimes more intense.
And somewhat related:
If there is a change from stormy or wet to clear and dry at the time of a new or full Moon, it will probably remain fine till the following quarter. If it doesn't change then, or just for a little bit, it usually lasts until the following new or full Moon. If it doesn't change then, or only for a little, it will probably remain fine and dry for 4 to 5 weeks.

An old Indian saying is the

An old Indian saying is the taller the sumflowwer grow, the deeper the snow to accumlate during the winter. I have seen them grow very tall several times and that winter was very harsh, cold and lots of snow. Does it really work? I would guess it does!

My Grandmother taught me that

My Grandmother taught me that when the clouds in the sky look like fish scales, it will rain within 24 hours. Her saying: "Mackeral sky, 24 hours, never dry."

THANK YOU for saying this!

THANK YOU for saying this! I've tried to remember what fish scales in the sky meant, but I couldn't!

When I was a kid in the

When I was a kid in the '50's, an old farmer neighbor phrased it, "A curdled sky never leaves the ground dry."

I always used whooly worms to

I always used whooly worms to predict winter (have only seen one, almost all brown) but a friend just told me when the cicadas start up, expect winter in 2 months. Anyone else heard this?

Wolly worms is right. BUT

Wolly worms is right. BUT when you hear the cicadas (katydids) it is 90 days till 1st frost

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