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A Baker's Dozen of Weird Weather Superstitions

Aug 6, 2017

We've all heard our elders quote sayings about the weather especially in late Summer when it's so unpredictable.  Some are valid and others are just plain superstitions.  Here from we find some of those for our edification.
1. Red Sky at Night, Sailor's Delight. Red Sky in the Morning, Sailor's Warning.
This saying, meant to forecast a day of sailing, was meant to predict rain. According to the Library of Congress's Everyday Mysteries series, there is some truth in this saying. A red sky implies dust and moisture in the air; in the evening, it "usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming from the west," while in the morning it hints of a rainy day ahead.

2. Clear Moon, Frost Soon
The idea behind this bit of lore was that if you could see the moon, you would expect frost in the morning. The Farmer's Almanac says this one is true when the weather is cold enough because without cloud cover to help Earth's surface retain heat, the ground is more likely to lose that heat.  

3. Cows Lying Down, Weather on the Way
It's fairly unusual to pass a field of cows and see them all lying down, and folks in farm communities often say that this rare sight is a sign of rain. Are they just trying to stay dry? Or are they feeling symptoms brought on by pressure changes? The Farmer's Almanac refutes this one, suggesting that cows lying down are most likely resting, not preparing for rain. 

4. Count the Cricket Chirps, Tell the Temperature
The notion that animals can sense weather extends beyond cows. Crickets are numerous in summertime and much quieter in winter, leading to this notion. But there is actually more truth behind this than you might think! The Farmer's Almanac even provides a formula to calculate the temperature yourself, next time you hear a cricket. 

5. Summer Fog for Fair, Winter Fog for Rain
When fog creeps in during the summer and winter, it's following a pattern. Fog forms when the air cools in summertime, meaning the sky is likely clear of clouds. In the winter, fog forms because of humidity, indicating rain.
"In most places, fog in the summer is always the result of humid air cooling off at night due to clear skies and very little wind," senior digital meteorologist Nick Wiltgen says. "That process can cause fog in the winter too, but more often, winter fog comes from warm, humid air being chilled by blowing across cold, perhaps snow-covered ground. Usually that warm humid air is blowing in ahead of an approaching storm system."

6. Lightning Strikes, Count the Seconds
Everyone knows this one! Believe it or not, it's fairly accurate. Light travels faster through air than sound does, at a rate that's consistent with one mile for every five seconds. Though it's not the most accurate prediction, it gives a rough estimate.

7. Mackerel Sky and Mare's Tails, Lofty Ships Carry Low Sails
This superstition looks to the clouds to predict weather in the same way that our own meteorologists do. A "mackerel sky" consists of altocumulus or cirrocumulus clouds, formed by in instability in the atmosphere that indicates rain and storms, respectively. "Mare's tales" are those thin and wispy cirrus clouds. When there are many cirrus clouds in the sky, it indicates the approach of a frontal system, and in some cases, tropical storms and hurricanes.

8. Pine Cones Predict the Weather
If you take a look at pine cones during nice weather and rainy weather, you'll notice a difference in appearance. Pine cones contain seeds, and the best way for those seeds to disperse is with clear, dry weather. When it's rainy or very humid outside, they close up. You can make your own pine cone weather station and watch as the humidity changes..

9. Rainbow at Noon, Rain Soon
This saying is fairly accurate considering that rainbows can't be formed without rain. A rainbow can predict rain coming your way if that's the direction the rain is headed, so having an umbrella on hand is always a good idea.

10. Ring around the Moon, Rain Real Soon
When the moon has a halo around it, it's a product of light refracting around ice crystals in the air – the same particles that form cirrus clouds, or "mare's tails," we mentioned earlier. 
This one's not foolproof, as cirrus clouds can occur without stormy weather. But many times cirrus clouds are the first clouds to show up ahead of a large-scale storm system, and other times cirrus clouds may be the first clouds you would see ahead of a localized thunderstorm moving toward you.

11. Chimney Smoke Descends, Nice Weather Ends
When you look at a chimney, smoke either goes straight up into the air or "falls." If the smoke is sinking, it means water vapor has condensed with the smoke, and rain may be on the way.
This one has a kernel of truth. Smoke 'falling' from a chimney could be the result of strong winds from an approaching storm. But it could just as easily be strong wind behind a departing storm, with nicer weather ahead.
Smoke can also fall due to a temperature inversion, when the air just above the ground is significantly warmer than the air at ground level. Inversions can come from stormy warm fronts, but they can also come from wintertime high pressure zones not associated with stormy weather.

12. Lingering Snow Waits for More 
This superstition has some backing. If snow lingers, it hasn't melted, so any other precipitation is likely to be snow. But it doesn't necessarily mean that there will be more precipitation at all. 

13. Feeling Weather in Your Bones 
The phrase "feeling under the weather" didn't just come out of nowhere. The weather affects our bodies in many ways. According to WebMD, barometric pressure changes can cause joint pain. So if your great aunt starts complaining about shoulder pain or achy knees, it may be time to don your raincoat.

Daily weather chart - (teacher's aides)


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