Survival Skills: Folk Wisdom Weather Predictors

Whether you are adventuring deep in the back country, or you simply forgot to check the weather before your day hike, there are some handy old sayings that can help to predict the short-term weather. Using the moon, wind direction, indicators of moisture increase, and the color of the sky, you can form a good guess about the weather you're about to encounter.

The Moon's Appearance
"Pale moon rains; red moon blows. White moon neither rains or snows."

When the air at night is very clear, the moon appears white. This sign speaks of fair weather to come. But when moonlight passes through air laden with dust particles, it can appear pale or reddish. The more dust particles in the air, the greater the chance that moisture will have something on which to form raindrops.

"If a circle forms 'round the moon, 'twill rain soon."

The halo around the moon, which is usually seen in colder times of the year, is an indicator of dust or ice crystals in the air. These can be nucleation points for rain drops or snow flakes, depending on the temperature.

Wind Direction
"A wind in the south has rain in her mouth."

Through much of the U.S., a southerly wind usually carries moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. This causes the air to become more humid, and it is more likely to form rain clouds.

Moisture Levels
"When chairs squeak, it's about rain they speak. If salt is sticky and gains in weight, it will rain before too late."

Wooden chairs, salt, sugar, and even peoples' hair will absorb moisture from the air when the humidity rises. This causes chairs to squeak, salt to clump, odors to intensify, and a host of other noticeable changes.

Sky Color
"Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning."

Sunrises and sunsets can illuminate dust particles in the air, giving them a reddish glow. And when the sunrise is more red than pink, it often indicates incoming rain.

Got any other favorite weather prediction sayings? Let's hear them in the comments.

CC image by cdsessums on Flickr.