Weather Sayings and Folklore

Many of us have heard the various weather saying and folklore, but is there any truth to these phrases?

When dogs eat grass, you can expect a severe storm.

My dog eats grass in the winter, spring, summer and fall. It’s got nothing to do with the weather and more to due with how the dog feels. Typically, dogs eat grass when they are hungry or when their stomach is upset. They don’t suddenly get hungry for grass because a thunderstorm is coming.

If a rooster crows at night, there will be rain by morning.

Roosters don’t just crow in the morning. They crow anytime they feel like it. Hang out on a farm for a day and you’ll see for yourself. I don’t know the origins of this saying, but it’s not credible.

Red skies at night, sailor’s delight. Red skies in the morning, sailor’s warning.

This one may have some validity to it. When dust particles are in the sky and the sun is low on the horizon (evening and morning), the sky will appear red. Calm weather occurs when a high pressure system moves into the area, and a low pressure system will stir up dust particles in the air due to the wind. Weather systems are driven by the jet stream and move from west to east (in the northern hemisphere). In the morning, the sun rises in the east and if the sky is red, that means the high pressure system has already passed. This means a low pressure system is moving in, which can be indicative of a storm. Conversely, in the evening the sun sets in the west, and if the sky is red, that means a high pressure system is moving in, which indicates calm weather may be approaching.

Pigs gather leaves and straw before a storm.

Many animals posses a nesting instinct and pigs are no different. The instinct is a little strong in some more so than others, but it doesn’t indicate a storm is brewing. It just means they are being pigs. It’s not like they are going to build a straw house, unless there’s a big bad wolf nearby.

Birds on a telephone wire predict the coming of rain.

I see birds on wires all the time. If this one were true, the world would be underwater.

A falling meteor predicts fair weather.

There may be some truth to this one, but only because if you can see a meteor, then there are probably very few clouds in the sky. If there are very few clouds in the sky, then it probably means there is fair weather. Maybe that’s a stretch?

Cows lie down when it’s about to rain.

Usually cows lie down when they are chewing their cud or resting, not because it’s about to rain. Actually, I’ve seen cows stand and huddle together with their rear-ends to the wind when in the midst of a storm. I’ve seen this several times while storm chasing out on the plains of Colorado.

Rain before seven, fine before eleven.

This may have some validity to it, but certainly not always. The reason being, once a storm passes, the atmosphere stabilizes a bit and it’s more difficult for another storm to form. And since most storms in the summer occur in the evening and last only a short time, by the time 11:00 O’clock rolls around the storm will have passed and fair weather may ensue.

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