Thursday, September 10, 2009

Weather Signs & Lore: Predicting Rain and Storms

Maybe it is my age, or maybe it is because of gardening, but I have gotten interested in the weather, and specifically in "weather signs". Not signs as in superstitions, but legitimate observation of natural events.

It started when we lived on the coast. We would notice some days that there would be a strong smell in the air: we called it "stinky beach". As it turned out, that is a nearly foolproof sign of coming rain within 24 to 48 hours. It is caused by changing atmospheric pressure and affects not only bodies of water on land but also underground: drains (and your garbage disposal) will also "stink to high heaven".

We also learned on the coast just how very true the old Lore Poem is:
"Red sky at morning, sailors take warning,
Red sky at night, sailors' delight."
This is another that science has proven to be true. If the sunset is a glorious thing of beautiful red skies, you can expect the following day to be clear. If you wake to a magnificent sunrise that turns the eastern sky red, it WILL rain that day - and in fact may storm.

Nearly everyone has observed that birds fly lower in the sky, congregate in the trees and huddle down prior to a rain.

We've all also noticed "flies sticking". This was in fact the most common bit of weather lore I heard during my childhood. When houseflies get sluggish and come sit on the screens, people would say "The flies are sticking - it is going to rain". And sure enough, a thunderstorm would come up. You'll notice the humidity is high and heat oppressive during these times as well.

An Easter-related bit of lore that I heard this year for the first time is "If it rains on Easter, it will rain for seven Sundays". This year it rained on the night of Holy Saturday, and we had rain
within 36 hours of Sunday for 6 out of the next 7 Sundays. So there might be some truth to this one.

We had thunder last night, and got 1/8" of rain. It is cloudy this morning and we have a chance to have more. The crickets and frogs are singing, the cicadas are humming, and the birds are sitting in the trees singing this morning at 9:43 AM. The squirrels are staying put, but there's just enough of their clicketty chatter to know they are there. It's a beautiful noise.

Our friends at Lake Brownwood really need rain for their water supplies, so we are hoping it will pour buckets!


091109 9:53 am Edited to add: It started raining at 9:22 last night and rained throughout the night. We have gotten a little over 1" so far and it is still misting rain today.

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