WEATHER LORE and PROVERBS
Farmers watched cloud movement and the sky colour to know when to sow and reap. Mariners noted wind shifts and watched wave motions for signs of change. Hunters studied the behaviour of insects and animals and, through repeated observation, learned to foretell the weather. They recalled what they saw in the form of short sayings, often embodied in rhyme for ease of memory. The beliefs of thousands of people were passed down from generation to generation, altered by the wisdom of the times. They became part of culture and education and came to the New World and to different climates with the waves of migration.
Many weather proverbs are nothing more than familiar rhymes, lighthearted ditties or imaginative contradictions. Some have survived the test of careful observation and scientific reasoning to become reliable guides to coming weather change. Only those sayings that prophesy daily change, usually pertaining to sky appearance, cloud movement or wind change, have any hope of success. Lore involving key dates or anniversaries or suggesting monthly or seasonal change can only be right by chance.
Old weather proverbs and saws have their inception in atmospheric conditions. Properly interpreted, these conditions give accurate information on what is likely to happen in the next few hours. For instance, a red sky means rain or dry weather according to the time of the day it occurs. The principle is based on certain optics and conditions of the atmosphere. Another example: smoke hovering near the surface of the ground indicates heavy moisture in the air. When it ascends straight up there is little likelihood of rain.
Among the more reliable weather proverbs are:
The moon and
may change together,
A ring around the sun or moon, means rain or snow coming soon.
When grass is
dry at morning
Dew on the grass, rain won't come to pass.
Sea gull, sea
on the sand,
When sea-gulls fly to land, a storm is at hand.
not three hours
The higher the clouds the better the weather.
Cold is the night when the stars shine bright.
Sound travelling far and wide, a stormy day betide.
and the mountain roars,
When leaves show their undersides, be very sure that rain betides.
Chimney smoke descends, our nice weather ends.
When the night goes to bed with a fever, it will awake with a wet head.
When the ditch
offend the nose,
Three days rain will empty any sky.
The farther the sight, the nearer the rain.
The sharper the blast, the sooner 'tis past.
If bees stay
rain will soon come,
The first and last frosts are the worst.
When clouds look like black smoke a wise man will put on his cloak.
A rainbow in
is the shepherd's warning
When the chairs squeak, it's of rain they speak.
The winds of
wrestle and fight,
Dust rising in dry weather is a sign of approaching change.
No weather's ill if the wind be still.
The squeak of the snow will the temperature show.
When smoke hovers close to the ground, there will be a weather change.
When down the
falls the soot
When the sun
When the wind
the west, fish bite best.
If salt is
Red sky at
rocks and towers,
When the wind is in the east, 'tis neither good for man nor beast.
The more cloud
the greater the chance of rain or snow.
* When a cow tries to
scratch its ear ... It means a shower is very near.
* CMOS Bulletin, April 2003