Barb's Christian Webpage
Many of our grandparents had sayings that helped them figure out what the weather was going to be like. Here are some of them ...
Mackerel sky, rain is nigh
Cirrocumulus clouds, clouds that look like fish scales, often show up in advance of a slow-moving front - the kind that's likely to bring rain within twenty-four hours.
Onion skins very thin, mild
winter coming in.
Many grandmothers said this as they sliced their vegetables on a late autumn evening.
A ring around the moon or sun,
and rain approaches on the run.
The halolike ring is actually light reflected through ice crystals of high, thin clouds that are often 500 to 600 miles in advance of a storm front.
Sea gull, sea gull, sitting on
the sand, it's a sure sign of rain when you're on the land.
There's some truth in that saying. With their hollow bones and air sacs, birds may detect changes in barometric pressure and react to them. When a storm approaches, the air pressure drops - a possible sign to those gulls of an impending downpour. By staying on the ground, they avoid the struggle of flying through high winds and rain.
When ditches and ponds offend
the nose, watch for rain and stormy blows.
The science of that one is right. Just before rain, humidity rises. And humid air carries tiny particles of the foul-smelling decaying matter from swamps and ditches.
When windows won't open and
salt clogs the shaker, the weather will favor the umbrella maker.
The high humidity that can produce thunderstorms also has an irritating habit of making wood swell and salt stick together.
Heavy dew in the morning light,
shows no rain before the night.
This adage pans out because the heaviest dew develops when the ground cools quickly overnight - which happens with clear skies and calm winds. Conditions like that often mean you're at the center of a stable high-pressure system. It's usually twelve hours or more before a storm system takes over.
If woolly fleece decks the
heavenly way, be sure no rain will mar the day.
Fleecy white clouds are only a few hundred feet thick, which means they're not very developed at all. And that's a sign the atmosphere is relatively stable.
When the goose honks high, fair
weather is nigh.
No huge mystery with this one. High pressure, which dominates in fair weather, creates tail winds that give high-flying geese a free ride. These birds are only one barometer ...
Cranes aloft, the day is soft;
swallows soar, good weather more.
You get the picture.
Red sky at night, sailors
delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.
This may be the most famous of all weather sayings, one that's even referenced in the Bible (Matthew 16:2-3). It has withstood the test of time because it's so often right. The red of a sunset is caused by light bouncing off dust particles in dry, stable air. Since most weather in the country moves from west to east, that means good weather is approaching. Red in the eastern sky at sunrise could mean that dry air is on its way out.
Tails to the west, the
weather's the best; tails to the east, the weather's the least.
Cows seem to dislike taking a strong wind face-on, preferring to have it hit their rump. So they act as a kind of bovine weather vane. Tail into the prevailing fair-weather winds from the west, all is clear. Tail to the east, signaling winds swirling counterclockwise around low-pressure centers, and wet times could be ahead.
When the smoke floats west,
good weather is gone; when the smoke floats east, good weather is come.
The same wisdom lies behind this old saying, one you can keep in mind at your next barbecue.
(This information came from Reader's Digest, October 2001 issue.)
I recently received another weather indicator from a friend named Diane ...
¬ If the wind is from the North, don't venture forth
¬ If the wind is from the South, it will blow the bait in the fishes mouth
¬ If the wind is from the East, fish are biting the least
¬ If the wind is from the West, fishing is best