From “the coldest winter you ever spent was the summer before” to “it’s easier to move a mountain than it is to change your mind,” these weather proverbs are all true. A lot of them come from Native American lore, which might not be surprising considering they lived within a temperate zone and had access to thousands of years worth of data tracking weather patterns in their areas.
“Old wives’ tales weather sayings” are a part of many cultures. These sayings have been passed down through the generations and they are actually true.
When you think about it, the weather has an influence on our daily choices. What we dress, when we depart for our daily commute, the tasks we do, the hobbies we pursue, and the family events we organize are all factors to consider. The list of ways the winds and sky impact our life goes on and on.
Today, we have meteorologists and whole government departments devoted to forecasting the weather using high-tech computers and algorithms, but a century and a half ago (and more! ), people had to depend mostly on observation and basic tools to forecast the weather for the next days.
Farmers, sailors, and amateur meteorologists of all types came up with useful, often rhyming proverbs to aid their observations in the work of forecasting the weather. Animal behavior, wind direction, air pressure (which could be measured with a barometer), and other factors were all quite good predictors of how the weather will behave.
Most of this passed-down “folk knowledge” is really extremely accurate and has a lot of science behind it; weather proverbs from centuries ago may be used today just as effectively as they could centuries ago. Why not improve your skills of observation and learn more about the weather and the natural world around you instead of depending on your local meteorologist or a smartphone app to advise you what to dress for the day?
Note: Before reading any of these proverbs, I strongly advise you to read our page on air pressure and barometers; many of them are about atmospheric pressure and how it relates to arriving and exiting weather systems.
1. “Fair weather if the geese honks loudly.” “Bad weather if the goose honks low.”
The height of a goose’s flight, not the pitch of its honk, is the subject of this adage. If the goose “honks high” — or flies at a high height — it means the barometric pressure is high, and the weather is excellent. If it’s flying lower in the sky, the barometric pressure is low, which means bad weather is on the way. This is due to geese’s exceptional ability to fly in optimal air density. When air pressure is high, the ideal level is high in the sky, and when air pressure is low, the optimum level is low in the sky.
So, if you see geese flying in V formations high in the sky, have your picnic ready.
2. “It will rain when the pipes smell worse.”
We must go to the molecular level to comprehend this aphorism. Aromatic or “smell” molecules (those that transport fragrance to our nostrils) are “bare” in dry air, floating about freely in the air. Water molecules connect to aromatic molecules in damp, humid air, and the perfume becomes hydrated. This helps those smell molecules to better link themselves to your nose’s wet surfaces, making their aroma stronger.
Humidity rises as the air becomes more wet, making rain more probable. So, if your tobacco pipe has a greater odor than normal, it might indicate that bad weather is approaching. Beautiful-smelling flowers (“Flowers smell finest immediately before a rain”), as well as offensive manure fields and ponds (“Manure smells stronger before a rain” and “When ditches and ponds annoy the nose, Look for showers and stormy blows”), have the same effect.
3. “If there are a lot of spiders weaving webs, the spell will quickly become quite dry.”
Spider webs are very sensitive to atmospheric moisture. When the humidity is excessive, their webs absorb the water and become heavy, to the point of breaking. Spiders are aware of this, and when they detect a high level of humidity, they will retreat to their hiding spots. This is a warning sign for people that rain or bad weather is on the way. They’ll come out and spin their webs freely when they smell dry air (a indication of excellent weather), knowing they’ll have a few days of pleasant hunting ahead of them.
4. “A sailor’s joy at night; a sailor’s caution in the morning.”
While this weather adage (and its many variations) are arguably the most well-known in our society, the reality behind it is a bit more nuanced than most people realize. This is due to the proverb’s lack of specificity, which prevents us from precisely forecasting the weather.
A red sky at night might indicate good weather, especially if the red is visible in the eastern sky. The light of the setting sun is flowing through the low atmosphere and reflecting off clouds, resulting in a crimson night sky toward the east. If this is the case, it’s conceivable that the rain has stopped and you’re safe.
Depending on the hue of red, a crimson western sky at night might imply a few things. A more pinkish hue might indicate clear, pleasant weather, while a deep red sky in the west at night can indicate moisture in the air and the formation of a storm system.
The proverb’s “red sky in the morning” portion might be similarly perplexing.
Aside from atmospheric factors, pollution and other artificial particles in the air may have a significant impact on the color of the sky in all directions and at all times of day.
While you may find fast answers and explanations for the proverb online, a red sky might ultimately represent numerous things depending on a range of natural and non-natural variables. While it’s a witty adage, the others on this list will be more useful in predicting the weather in the days ahead.
5. “Rain will never arrive while there is dew on the grass.”
Dew occurs when the temperature of the grass falls below the dew-point temperature (the temp at which dew forms). When heat from the earth radiates upward at night, grass cools. This heat departs the atmosphere and soars into space in a clean, dry environment.
Water vapor takes part of the heat in a damp and humid environment and may send it back down to the ground, warming the grass and keeping it dew-free.
Dew on the grass, then, indicates a high pressure system and pleasant weather.
6. “When it rains, doors and drawers stay.”
Doors that stay in the frame when opened or are difficult to shut are signs of excessive humidity, which means rain is on the way. There’s a long scientific reason for this, especially dendrological (the study of trees), but for our needs, simply know that wood expands when the air becomes humidified. When doors stick, it’s an indication of low pressure and impending bad weather, so keep an eye out for rains.
7. “Frogs croaking in the lagoon indicate that rain is on the way.”
Frogs, being cold-blooded amphibians, need wet skin and warm temperatures to be active. This means that their croaking indicates high temperatures and humidity (the water in the air keeps their skin moist). As we’ve learnt, high humidity is an indication of impending rain.
8. “The Earth is refreshed with regular rains when clouds resemble rocks and buildings.”
This adage refers to the ominous appearance of storm clouds, often known as cumulonimbus clouds. These colossal behemoths soar to heights of 75,000 feet, and before becoming anvil-like, they seem to be stacks of boulders placed on top of each other. Expect storms if you see rocks and towers in the sky.
“Mackerel skies and mares’ tails allow tall ships to sail with modest sails.”
In this adage, “mackerel” refers to altocumulus clouds, and “mares’ tails” refers to cirrus clouds. Seeing them in the sky might indicate the arrival of a low-pressure system. You should expect pleasant weather in the near future (around 24 hours). The mackerels and mares’ tails, on the other hand, are the first obvious symptoms of an impending warm front, which will bring storms. The clouds will develop thicker and denser as the system approaches, and rain will begin to pour.
As a result, when a ship sees these indicators, it lowers its sails and battens down the hatches in anticipation of impending harsh weather.
10. “A ring around the sun or moon indicates that rain is on its way.”
Light from such things (light doesn’t originate from the moon, but you get my drift…) passes through ice crystals in the upper atmosphere, forming a ring around the sun or moon. These ice crystals were either blown over the tops of oncoming storm clouds or from high cirrus clouds, which may be the earliest sign of an upcoming low pressure system, as we recently discovered. So, if you see a ring, be prepared for rain.
11. “A sailor’s caution in the morning; a sailor’s joy at night.”
This adage is similar to “Red sky at night…” in that it focuses on a single meteorological phenomenon: the rainbow, rather than the sky as a whole. Rainbows appear in the west in the morning and the east in the evening because they are always on the opposite side of the sun from us. A rainbow always appears in the presence of rain, therefore a morning rainbow indicates precipitation in the west (which is most likely nearing your area) and an evening rainbow indicates precipitation in the east (likely heading away from your location). Night rainbows are a treat to sailors since they typically occur after a rain shower.
12. “When the ass starts to bray, it’ll almost certainly rain that day.”
Falling air pressure is generally the first sign of approaching rain and storm systems. Animals of all kinds have been demonstrated to be more agitated and energetic when their blood pressure is low. Frogs croak, birds chirp, and dogs bark more. Changes in air pressure are sensed keenly by animals, according to prevalent ideas; people might feel grumpy and out of sorts when a low pressure system comes in, but an unstable environment in general is better perceived by our four-legged companions. So, if the ass brays and other critters become a bit more ferocious, it’s a sign that bad weather is on the way.
13. “Fair weather if the new moon embraces the old moon in her lap.”
During the fresh and crescent phases of the moon, it’s usually difficult to see the dark portion of the moon. This is due to turbulence in the air, which is caused by various molecules and particles colliding with one another. This is especially true in low-pressure, bad-weather situations. The atmosphere clears up more than normal during high pressure, fair weather systems, and dim things are easier to view with the naked eye.
So, if you can see the black side of the moon (as the cryptic saying suggests), it signifies a high pressure system is approaching, and you should anticipate pleasant weather.
14. “It’s not beneficial for man or beast when the wind blows from the east.” When the wind is blowing from the north, the elderly should avoid going out. The bait is blown into the mouth of the fish when the wind is blowing from the south. When the wind is blowing from the west, it is the finest of all the breezes.”
The wind’s overall direction might be a good predictor of the sort of weather that will be arriving in your region. An easterly wind (wind that comes from the east and blows west) indicates the arrival of a low pressure system and bad weather. The barometer drops, which, as we’ve seen, is bad for both man and beast. A north wind provides the icy frost of the north, a south wind offers warm (but humid) circumstances, and a west wind brings the most pleasant weather of all – moderate temperatures and dry air.
15. “Rain will fall if the clouds move against the breeze.”
When clouds move in the opposite direction of the wind, it’s usually due to a phenomena known as wind shear, in which the wind direction in the lower and higher sections of the atmosphere differs. As a result, the atmosphere becomes unstable, resulting in rain and storms. This is how storms arise in severe conditions.
16. “Rain before 7:00 a.m., clear before 11:00 a.m.”
Although this adage has more to do with fog than rain, it is a useful phrase. Radiation fog is the most prevalent sort of fog, and it occurs during clear, atmospherically stable nights. Heat from the earth radiates to outer space, cooling the ground to the dew-point temperature, as we learnt from the adage about dew. drew is the result of this. As the temperature drops further, condensation forms in the air due to a process called as heat conduction. This incidence usually exclusively occurs at night or extremely early in the morning.
If there is turbulence in the air, the fog might deepen and possibly create rain. However, since this isn’t rain from a low-pressure storm, the vapor will quickly deplete and the rain will be brief. As a result, if it rains early in the morning (before 7:00 a.m.), it will most likely stop by midday.
Please keep in mind that this is only true for fog-related showers. The criterion does not apply if the system has really low pressure.
17. “The louder the boom, the faster it’ll be over.”
When a storm develops quickly, it is frequently stronger and quicker than when it develops slowly. A powerful thunderstorm moves at roughly 30 miles per hour on average, which means it will only last a few hours. A slow-moving rain shower, on the other hand, may move at a fraction of that pace and continue for many days.
18. “The ash before the oak, choke, choke, choke, the oak before the ash, splash, splash, splash, the oak before the ash, splash, splash, splash.”
Unlike the others on this list, this proverb is more of a long-term forecaster. The “ash before the oak” alludes to blooming, while the “splash” alludes to rain. Expect a drier summer if ash trees blossom before oak trees, and a wetter summer if the opposite is true.
When trees blossom, the moisture level of the soil influences the time. Because of the dry autumn and winter, there is minimal moisture in the topsoil, but there may be liquid deeper inside the soil. Because ash trees have a shallow root system, a rainy autumn and winter implies moist topsoil, which leads to speedy budding. An oak’s extensive root system will tap into the deepest areas of the earth and blossom before the ash if past seasons have been dry.
What does this have to do with a long-term weather forecast? It’s based on the basic premise that Mother Nature is attempting to preserve equilibrium and average precipitation. In general, dry seasons are followed by rainy seasons, and vice versa.
19. “Rainy weather is at risk when your joints all start to hurt.”
This adage is similar to the one about the ass braying above, but it refers to joint discomfort in humans. Have you ever had an elderly uncle with a bad knee who could foretell a storm? While there has been more study on how weather affects people than on animals, it is still all speculation.
Low pressure (meaning less force on your body/joints) permits tissue to grow, putting strain on your joints, according to the scientific community. So, the next time your bum knee hurts for no apparent reason, glance to the sky and brace yourself for rain in the following several days.
20. “Prepare for a blow while the glass is low; let your kites fly when the glass is high.”
This is a straightforward adage about keeping an eye on and monitoring barometric pressure. It was originally referred to as a “glass” weather gauge (because a glass tube housed the mercury). You should anticipate rain and generally bad weather when the “glass” is low — that is, when the mercury is low, which means low pressure. When the temperature rises, a high pressure system is present (or approaching), and pleasant weather may be expected.
21. “The moon, her face crimson, talks of water.”
The hue of the moon, especially when it’s full and rising, might signal impending weather systems. The moon appears white in a dry environment (indicating favorable weather). When the atmosphere starts to absorb moisture, the air molecules scatter light differently than they do in a dry environment, giving the moon a redder appearance.
The moisture that is turning the moon red might be a warning of growing humidity, which means rain showers are on the way.
22. “Long predicted, long awaited, short notice, and quickly gone.”
A weather system that changes slowly is more likely to stay for a long time than one that moves and changes fast. A rain or storm that lasts just a few minutes or hours is caused by abrupt variations in air pressure and temperature that are impossible to predict with any degree of precision. However, if pressure and temperature changes occur gradually, the weather system is more likely to stay put. Slow-moving systems with incremental changes are plainly simpler to interpret, making them significantly more likely to be successfully anticipated by meteorologists.
Make sure to listen to our podcast on how to strengthen your natural instincts:
Watch This Video-
“The weather sayings and rhymes” is a blog that features 22 weather proverbs that are actually true. The article also includes an excerpt from the book, “Weather Sayings.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some weather lore sayings?
A: Snow, Snow and more snow is a famous saying in the United States. It means that there will be a lot of snow despite any signs suggesting otherwise.
When pipes smell stronger its going to rain?
A: This is a very complicated question. There have been many studies that show the correlation between certain odors and rainfall, but there are just as many people who say this has no relation at all.
What does when clouds appear like rocks and towers the Earths refreshed with frequent showers mean?
A: When the clouds appear like rocks and towers, it is a sign that rain might come shortly after.
- weather sayings for each month
- weather folklore sayings and their meanings
- weather sayings and meanings
- weather sayings uk
- weather folklore uk