As most everyone already knows, we did not always have scientific means to predict or forecast the coming weather. People long ago and even today use the other things to predict the weather; animal behavior, patterns they observe and good old fashion folklore and wives tales.
If for some unknown reason you were in a place that had nothing new and modern and you had to rely on something else then it never hurts to at least be aware of what is out there, so familiarize yourself with some of the old-time methods used. Of course these methods are neither perfect nor fool-proof, but they really do have their usefulness.
GENERAL WEATHER AND FORMULAS
Deaths occur most often when the tide is going out.
Births occur when the tide is coming in.
You could measure the distance of a storm by counting from the flash of the lightning to the sound of thunder.
Winter thunder means snow within 10 days.
Make a campfire. The smoke should rise steadily. Smoke that swirls and descends is caused by low pressure (i.e. rain on the way).
Take a deep breath. Close your eyes and smell the air.
Plants release their waste in a low pressure atmosphere, generating a smell like compost and indicating an upcoming rain.
Swamps will release gasses just before a storm because of the lower pressure, which leads to unpleasant smells.
A proverb says “Flowers smell best just before a rain.” Scents are stronger in moist air, associated with rainy weather.
Grow some scarlet pimpernel – Known as the Poor Man’s Barometer, its flowers close when atmospheric pressure decreases and rain is on the way. Dandelions and tulips do the same.
You can predict the weather with a persimmon seed. Here’s how to do it:
Cut open a persimmon seed.
Look at the shape of the kernel inside.
If the kernel is spoon-shaped, lots of heavy, wet snow will fall. Spoon = shovel!
If it is fork-shaped, you can expect powdery, light snow and a mild winter.
If the kernel is knife-shaped, expect to be “cut” by icy, cutting winds.
It’s best to use ripe seeds.
Did you know that you can tell the temperature by counting the chirps of a cricket? It’s true! Here’s the formula:
To convert cricket chirps to degrees Fahrenheit, count numbers of chirps in 14 seconds then add 40 to get temperature.
Example: 30 chirps + 40 = 70° F
To convert cricket chirps to degrees Celsius, count number of chirps in 25 seconds, divide by 3, and then add 4 to get temperature.
Example: 48 chirps /(divided by) 3 + 4 = 20° C
Reading a Pig’s spleen can predict the weather
Divide the spleen from top to bottom into 6 parts.
The top closest to the head shows current month.
Bottom is the last of the six months.
Where the spleen thickens, a change in the weather is indicated, usually pointing to a cold spell.
Where there’s a pronounced bulge, expect even more inclement weather.
Reading a Goose Bone
Watch the coloration as the bone dries.
If the bone turned blue, black, or purple, a cold winter lay ahead.
White indicated a mild winter.
Purple tips were a sure sign of a cold spring.
A blue color branching out toward the edge of the bone meant open weather until New Year’s Day.
If the bone was a dark color, or blue all over, the prediction was for a real bad winter.
The woolly bear caterpillar-with its 13 distinct segments of black and reddish-brown-has the reputation of being able to forecast the coming winter weather. According to legend, the wider that middle brown section is (i.e., the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter.
If a deer or cow has extra layers of fat when slaughtered there will be a bad winter coming.
Cows that suddenly gather beneath large trees means rain is coming.
Expect rain when dogs eat grass.
Expect rain when cats purr and wash.
Expect rain when sheep turn into the wind.
Expect rain when oxen sniff the air.
Expect rain when swine are restless.
If the deer are out early grazing there is big storm coming.
Squirrels’ nesting in dead trees instead of making nests of leaves mean a harsh winter.
If the cows in pastures are all lying down, it’s a sure sign of rain.
If the bull leads the cows to pasture, expect rain.
if the cows precede the bull, the weather will be uncertain.
When cats sneeze, it is a sign of rain.
Bats flying late in the evening indicate fair weather.
If the groundhog sees its shadow on Candlemas Day (February 2), six more weeks of winter remain.
When horses and cattle stretch out their necks and sniff the air, it will rain.
If the mole digs its hole 2½ feet deep, expect severe weather.
If the mole digs its hole two feet deep, not so severe weather.
If the mole digs its hole one foot deep, expect a mild winter.
When pigs gather leaves and straw in all, expect a cold winter.
When rabbits are fat in October and November, expect a long, cold winter.
If sheep ascend hills and scatter, expect clear weather.
Wolves always howl more before a storm.
Birds singing in the rain indicates fair weather approaching.
If birds in the autumn grow tame, the winter will be too cold for game.
Partridges drumming in the fall mean a mild and open winter.
Chickens cackle and owls howl just before rain.
If crows fly in pairs, expect fine weather; a crow flying alone is a sign of foul weather.
When fowls roost in daytime, expect rain.
Seagulls tend to stop flying and take refuge at the coast if a storm is coming.
Animals, especially birds, get very quiet immediately before it rains.
The whiteness of a goose’s breastbone indicates the kind of winter: A red of dark-spotted bone means a cold and stormy winter; few or light-colored spots mean a mild winter.
When domestic geese walk east and fly west, expect cold weather.
Hawks flying high means a clear sky. When they fly low, prepare for a blow.
Petrels’ gathering under the stern of a ship indicates bad weather.
When the rooster goes crowing to bed, he will rise with watery head.
When seagulls fly inland, expect a storm.
When the swallow’s nest is high, the summer is very dry.
When the swallow builds low, you can safely reap and sow.
A very old wives tale says if birds feed in a storm it will rain for a long time, if they don’t it will clear soon.
INSECTS AND REPTILES
If ants their walls do frequent build, rain will from the clouds be spilled.
Ants are busy, gnats bite, crickets sing louder than usual, spiders come down from their webs, and flies gather in houses just before rain.
When bees to distance wing their flight, days are warm and skies are bright; But when their flight ends near their come, stormy weather is sure to come.
Turtles often search for higher ground when a large amount of rain is expected. You will often see them in the road during this period (1 to 2 days before the rain.)
Fireflies in great numbers indicate fair weather.
When hornets build their nests near the ground, expect a cold and early winter.
When cicadas are heard, dry weather will follow, and frost will come in six weeks.
When spiders’ webs in air do fly, the spell will soon be very dry.
Spiders in motion indicate rain.
If you kill a spider indoors, it will bring rain.
If you killed a snake hang it over a fence and it will rain.
When spider-webs are wet with dew that soon dries, expect a fine day.
Spider-webs floating at autumn sunset bring a night frost.
The louder the frogs croak, the more the rain.
Frogs singing in the evening indicates fair weather the next day.
Leeches kept in glass jars are active just before rain.
Hang up a snake-skin and it will bring rain.
RAIN AND CLOUDS
Unusual clearness in the atmosphere, with distant objects seen distinctly, indicates rain.
Red skies at night, Sailor’s delight. Red skies at morning, Sailor take warning.
Evening red and morning gray are sure signs of a fine day. Evening gray and morning red put on your hat or you’ll wet your head.
If it rains before seven, it will clear before eleven.
When the wind blows the leaves on the trees upside down there will be a bad rain.
Rain from the south prevents the drought, but rain from the west is always best.
Anvil-shaped clouds bring on a gale.
A cloud with a round top and flat base carries rainfall on its face.
When small clouds join and thicken, expect rain.
Black clouds in the north in winter indicate approaching snow.
When there is enough blue sky to patch a Dutchman’s breeches, expect clearing weather.
A curdle sky will not leave the earth long dry.
If you see clouds going crosswind, there is a storm in the air.
Hen scarts and filly tails make lofty ships wear low sails.
Clouds floating low enough to cast shadows on the ground are usually followed by rain.
Mackerel sky, mackerel sky, never long wet, never long dry.
If three nights dewless there be, ’twill rain, you’re sure to see.
If heavy dew soon dries, expect fine weather; if it lingers on the grass, expect rain in 24 hours.
With dew before midnight, the next day sure will be bright.
If you wet your feet with dew in the morning, you may keep them dry for the rest of the day.
The higher the clouds, the finer the weather.
If you spot wispy, thin clouds up where jet airplanes fly, expect a spell of pleasant weather.
If small puff clouds (cumulus) in the morning or early afternoon have rounded tops and flat bases, if they grow higher than the cloud’s width, then there’s a chance of a thunderstorm forming.
Clear Moon, frost soon.
Ring around the moon and it will rain real soon.
If the night is clear enough to see the Moon and the temperature drops enough, frost will form. Expect a chilly morning!
When clouds appear like towers, the Earth is refreshed by frequent showers.
Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning.
A rainbow in the morning indicates that a shower is west of us and we will probably get it.
Rain foretold, long last. Short notice, soon will pass.
The gray overcast dominating the horizon means a large area is affected.
If you get caught in a surprise shower, it’s likely to be short-lived.
Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.
When the moon points up, the weather will be good.
when the moon points down, it will rain.
When a large star, or planet, is near the moon, the weather will be violent.
If the new moon is on Monday, then the weather will be good.
If a new moon occurs on a Saturday, then there will be twenty days of wind and rain.
If a new moon occurs on a Sunday, there will be a flood before the month is over.
The strongest storms and hurricanes are likely to be 1-3 days after a new moon and 3-5 days after a full moon.
Fog and a small moon bring an easterly winds.
A dry moon is far north and soon seen.
If the new moon is far north, it will be cold for two weeks.
If the new moon is far south, it will be warm.
When the moon runs low, expect warm weather.