Andrea Stockton, staff writer
July 29, 2011 — Before technology came along, people used weather lore to predict certain conditions. The Weather Network's Chris Murphy investigates the truth behind these rhymes.
Long before Doppler Radar and satellite imagery, people relied on human experience to foretell the next day's weather. Little sayings derived from these experiences, which showed a sense of observation and helped to connect changes in nature and weather patterns. Often the sayings would rhyme or be very visual and as a result, they were extremely easy to remember. They were spread from region to region and passed down through generations making some of them centuries old.
While some of these sayings are fairly accurate, others can be just plain wacky. The Weather Network's Chris Murphy takes a closer look at famous weather lores.
A ring around the sun or moon, means rain or snow coming soon.
Chris Murphy: The ring around the sun or moon is called a halo. A halo is formed when the sun or moon's light passes through the ice crystals that make up those high cirrus and stratus clouds. Those high clouds don't bring rain or snow, but they often foretell or snitch on the incoming warm front. Legend has it, the larger the ring, the heavier the rain.
When the wind is in the east, 'tis neither good for man nor beast.
Chris Murphy: There's a lot to be said about an east wind. Usually it indicates an incoming low pressure system. Now whether you get skimmed or slammed really depends on the track of the storm itself. But in this country, if you have a large body of water to your east or mountain range to your west, an east wind can be bad news.
Seagull, seagull sit on the sand, it's never good weather when you're on the land.
Chris Murphy: This one sounds a little ridiculous, but it actually does make a bit of sense. Seagulls are at home when they're flying and where they sleep when they can is on the water. So if it's really windy, birds don't want to fly and as a result the water is going to be choppy and they're going to sleep on the sand instead. Seagulls don't predict the weather, they just react to the adverse conditions that are presently happening.
Cold is the night, when the stars shine bright.
Chris Murphy: Clouds at night act like a cage door and it traps in the warmth accumulated during the day, but if there are no clouds at night, think of that cage door wide open and the heat escapes. So yes, you can see lots of stars, but you better dress for it especially in the colder months.
Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.
Chris Murphy: No question. This is the most popular and one of the oldest ones. In some parts of the world they use red sky at night, shepherds delight. Shakespeare has referenced this, this was even around in biblical times. Without getting into wave lengths and dust particles and pollution, essentially where the red sky is, is where the nice weather is. Systems move west to east, so a red sunset from the west means nice weather is coming towards you. A red sunrise in the east means the nice weather is moving away.