Weather Augury

Weather Augury

Computer Image by Steve Caunce

Weather has always impacted our daily lives; we’ve had to frequently factor it into our social or leisure plans.  Even in modern times with the advent of computers and satellites that forecast the weather patterns with uncanny accuracy we are still not immune to the effects of sudden and extreme weather conditions.

Mother Nature plays her hand and we, the technologically advanced human societies, are still powerless and at the mercy of her forces.  Imagine if we found ourselves at the remotest corner of the earth, far removed from any civilization and with no help from technology.  Our forbearers had no knowledge of “tropical depressions,” or, “occluded fronts” yet humans have survived extreme weather conditions for generations.  Are you not intrigued? For fun sake let us explore some ancient weather omens in preparation for that farfetched probability.

There are some popular omens and weather lore followed for generations by observant shepherds, farmers or fisherman. For the interested, here are some light hearted renditions or weather predictions by way of trite saws and proverbs listed below:

“Red Sky at night is shepherd’s delight

         Red sky at morning is shepherd’s warning.”

The Sun

“If red the sun begins his race, be sure the rain will fall a pace; if the sun goes pale to bed, Twill rain to-morrow, it is said. “

“If the sun as it rises is pale, long continued showers will occur.”

“If the sun goes down in a bank of dark, heavy clouds, you can expect the morrow to be wet and stormy.”

  • If the sun comes out while it is still raining, it means that showers will continue for a few days.
  • A ring around the sun in rainy weather predicts a brief spell of fine weather soon.
  • When the sun disk is covered with a haze, so that its light appears subdued and sickly, bad weather may be expected to follow.
  • If the rays of the rising sun cannot be seen but appears as a bright, shining ball, then good weather will follow.
  • A ring around the sun in fine weather predicts that rain is not too far away.

The Moon:

  • When the full moon rises into a clear, cloudless sky on the horizon, and the moon itself is a bright yellow colour, a short spell of fine weather is predicted.
  • If the full moon rises amid clouds and the orb itself is pale, wet weather may be expected.
  • If the full moon rise is red, it is a sign of wind.
  • If in fine weather the moon is encircled by a single misty ring it is an indication of rain to come.
  • A large circle round the moon forecasts impending rain very soon, while several concentric circles portend a lengthy spell of wet and stormy weather.  As the old saying goes: “The moon with a circle brings water in her beak.”
  • In winter the appearance of a clear moon brings frost soon.
  • If the full moon either rises or sets during high wind and rain the force of the storm is likely to abate.

The Stars/ Shooting stars:

  • If small and faint stars that can barely be seen appear in the sky it means that the wind will soon rise.
  • When the stars flicker or blink and appear to be larger than usual wet and stormy weather is in store for the next day.
  • If a large number of shooting stars are seen on a clear night in summer a fairly long spell of rain is augured.

      The Sky:

                “Evening red and morning grey

                Send the traveller on his way.

                Evening grey and morning red

                Bring the rain upon his head.”

  • A red sky at sunrise in summer forecasts a fair amount of wind and heavy downpours.  If this happens in autumn or winter you can be sure that the rain will last a good part of the day.
  • A red sky in the west at sunset is a sign of fine weather on the morrow.
  • The sky at the opposite of the setting sun is suffused with red or crimson a good deal of wind is forecasted soon after.
  • A red sky in the South east is a portent of rain.
  • A fine, clear sky in the early summer morning often promises rain clouds before long; however, if the sky is sparsely clouded at this time, never fear, the day may turn out O.K.
  • A green sky showing through the clouds in wet weather promises continued heavy rain.
  • If after sunset the sky is suffused with green rain and heavy gales are indicated. As the old saying goes “a green sky means the devil’s own weather.”
  • A pale yellow sky in the west is an omen of rain.
  • A dark grey sky with wind blowing from the south forecasts a frost and impending cold weather.

The Wind:

  • If the wind blows from the south-east direction it means that rain soon will follow.
  • When the wind blows from the north for several continuous days it predicts a period of pleasant and mild weather ahead.
  • If a gale suddenly springs up on a pleasant summer evening thunder will soon follow.
  • If the wind suddenly drops and there is unusual and confining warmth it portends an impending thunderstorm.

Here’s a delightful rhymes of Scottish origin that is about the four winds:

“When the wind is in the north

                Hail comes forth.

                When the wind is in the west

                Look for a wet blast,

                When the wind is in the south

                The weather will be gude,

                When the wind is in the east

                Cold and snow comes neist.

                When the wind is in the east

                It’s neither good for man or beast,

                When the wind is in the west

It’s then the wind is at its best.  

                Wind cast or west

                Is a sign of a blast,

                Wind north or south

                Is a sign of drought.

When the wind is in the north

A skilful fisher goes not forth.”                  

The clouds:

  • When cumulus clouds, that are the fleecy, white, heaped-up kind, float towards the north-western horizon, it presages fairly long spell of fine weather.
  • Clouds coming out of the west signify a shower.
  • Heavily massed grey or white clouds that constantly increase in size and move at a fair pace across the sky foretell thunder.
  •  A consistently grey sky with dark clouds scudding across it at a lower altitude is a sign of stormy weather and high winds.
  • A blanket of dark clouds spread uniformly over the sky, together with a drop in temperatures, is an indication of snow to follow.
  • If stacks of clouds cover the western sky at sunrise and disappear over the western horizon shortly after the sun has risen a short spell of pleasant weather is forecasted. On the other hand if dark clouds remain in the western sky after sunrise rainfall will soon manifest.
  • Long streaks of crimson or red cloud in the western sky at sunset foretell a fine weather as do clouds that remain in the eastern sky after the sun has gone.
  • Red clouds round the sun as it is rising forecast an impending rain shortly after.
  • When the clouds move across the sky unevenly or rise in spiral formation, thunder and lightning are forecasted.
  • The “mackerel sky,” as the old saying goes, “A mackerel sky, twelve hours dry.”   This cloud formation which usually occurs in summer denotes a short period of fine weather.
  • When clouds are at a very high altitude little or no rain is forecasted.  Much like the saying: “Clouds that float high will soon run dry.”

Thunder, Lightning, Rain and Rainbows:

  • If on the evening of a fine day lightning flashes in the sky without any thunder afterward a spell of fine, clear weather may be forecast.  As the saying goes, “Thunder in spring; Rain it will bring.” Or, “Winter thunder, is a summer’s wonder.”
  • When rain occurs in the early morning the weather will be fine by noon.
  • If rainfall is from a fairly clear sky it will probably continue to fall at intervals.
  • While the east wind is blowing the rain that falls will last another day or more.
  • When the rainbow manifests during a period of bad weather it foretells that the rainy period is near completion.
  • If however the rainbow fades quickly from the sky fair weather is soon to show.
  • Another saying goes like this, “A rainbow in the morning, is shepherd’s warning; a rainbow at night, is a shepherd’s delight.”



Dew and Mist:

  • If a widespread mist occurs near a full moon just before sunrise it forecasts a long period of fine weather.
  • A sticky, damp mist driven by the wind is sure-fire sign that the rain will come.
  • A mist rising over marshland or flat fields in the early morning presupposes a fine day.
  • If the tops of hills or high altitudes of land are crowned with mist it forecasts a lot of rain.
  • A light mist rising from the surface of a river or lake and spreading over the surrounding land promises sunny days ahead.
  • Heavy dew at the end of a fine, warm day in spring, summer or autumn without fail predicts a fine following day.
  • An easily dispelled and light mist augurs many a day of dry and bright weather.
  • When a warm day is ensued by a calm and dewless evening rain is in the forecast for the following day.

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