Weather folklore is often dismissed as nothing more than a grab bag of sayings, old wives’ tales, legends, and superstitions. In other words, folklore is considered the opposite of science. But folklore and science have more in common than you might imagine. What we call scientific method is based on observation and evidence - and so is a great deal of weather folklore.
Some fall/winter sayings include:
When leaves fall early, autumn and winter will be mild; when leave fall later, winter will be severe.
Flowers blooming in late autumn are a sign of a bad winter.
A warm November is the sign of a bad winter.
Thunder in the fall foretells a cold winter.
Other folklore explained:
CRICKETS CHIRP FASTER WHEN IT’S WARM AND SLOWER WHEN IT’S COLD.
Crickets can indeed serve as thermometers. Tradition says that if you count the cricket’s chirps for 14 seconds and then add 40, you will obtain the temperature in Fahrenheit at the cricket’s location.
MARCH COMES IN LIKE A LION AND GOES OUT LIKE A LAMB.
This well known saying is derived from the observation that March begins in winter and ends in spring. In northern latitudes temperatures are generally higher by the end of the month than during its first weeks. We may also look to the heavens to determine an explanation, the constellation of Leo, the lion, dominates the skies at the beginning of the month and the constellation Aries, the ram or lamb, prevails as the month winds down.
NO WEATHER IS ILL, IF THE WIND IS STILL
Calm conditions, especially with clear skies, indicate the dominance of a high-pressure system. When they are absent or weak, precipitation and cloud formation are much less likely. But let’s not forget the saying “the calm before the storm”. Thunderstorms frequently develop in environments where winds are low. Calm conditions can also occur on very cold days with clear skies. People shivering with the cold, might not think that a still wind bodes no ill.
WHEN WINDOWS WON’T OPEN, AND THE SALT CLOGS THE SHAKER, THE WEATHER WILL FAVOR THE UMBRELLA MAKER!
Windows with wood frames tend to stick when the air is full of moisture. The moisture swells the wood, making windows and doors more difficult to budge. By the same token, salt is very effective at absorbing moisture, so it clumps together rather than pouring out. As moisture collects in the air, there is a greater likelihood of precipitation.
WHEN A HALO RINGS THE MOON OR SUN, RAIN’S APPROACHING ON THE RUN.
A halo appears around the moon or the sun when ice crystals at high altitudes refract the moonlight (or sunlight). That is a good indication that moisture is descending to lower altitudes, where it is likely to take the form of precipitation. A halo is a more reliable indicator of storms in warmer months than during winter months.
SHARP HORNS ON THE MOON THREATEN BAD WEATHER.
The moon in this instance is supposed to predict precipitation because it is perceived as being in the shape of a bowl, which means that it is filling with water or snow. If it’s “horns” are tipped to the side, some people believe that precipitation will descend.
WHEN THE SUN DRAWS WATER, STORMS WILL FOLLOW.
The sun does not draw water. This saying describes an optical illusion in which the sun’s rays alternate with bands of shadow to produce a fanlike effect. Those shadowy patches are dense clouds, some of which are thin enough to allow sunlight to reach earth. However, the saying is not without merit. If the sun is obscured in the west, it means that moisture-laden clouds have gathered there, and it’s quite possible that rain will follow if the temperature is favorable for the condensation of that moisture.
LIGHTNING NEVER STRIKES THE SAME PLACE TWICE.
This is one of the most famous weather sayings – and it’s wrong. Lightning not only can strike the same place twice, but it seems to prefer high locations. New York City’s Empire State Building, for example, is struck about 25 times every year.
TORNADOES DON’T HAPPEN IN THE MOUNTAINS.
Tornadoes do occur in the mountains. Damage from a tornado has been reported above 10,000 feet. Tornadoes have barreled across mountain chains including the Appalachians, the Rockies, and the Sierra Nevada. In 1987, an especially violent tornado crossed the Continental Divide in Yellowstone National Park.
Observe animals and you'll see that they, too, have their own ways of predicting weather. Here are some animal weather proverbs and prognostics:
Whether you're wondering when to expect rain, or if a cold winter or dry summer is ahead of you, birds have a way of helping us find out! Here is a collection of some of our favorite bird weather proverbs and prognostics.
Next time you see an ant or a spider, check out what it's doing—it could let you know something about the upcoming weather. Check out our weather proverbs and prognostics about insects and reptiles.
Source: The 1994 Old Farmer's Almanac
The age-old practice of performing farm chores by the Moon stems from the simple belief that the Moon governs moisture.
Pliny the Elder, the first-century Roman naturalist, stated in his Natural History that the Moon "replenishes the earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them."
The Moon's phases guided many a farmer and gardener in the past, and still do today:
Folklore is rich among farmers, given their close ties to Earth and her natural rhythms.
Historically, the Native Americans who lived in the area that is now the northern and eastern United States kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to the recurring full Moons.
Each full Moon name was applied to the entire month in which it occurred. These names, and some variations, were used by the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior.
Link on the names below for your monthly Full Moon Guide!
Note: The Harvest Moon is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. It can occur in either September or October. At this time, crops such as corn, pumpkins, squash, and wild rice are ready for gathering.
13 Health Benefits of Pumpkin, According to Science
When determining the best planting dates for seeds, the date of the last spring frost is important to your success. NOTE: Our chart calculates U.S. frost dates only, based on historical data. Other factors can also influence planting dates, including soil temperature, altitude and slope of land, nearby waters, and day length. Keep records of your garden's conditions each year to plan more accurately.
Above-ground crops are planted during the light of the Moon (new to full); below-ground crops are planted during the dark of the Moon (from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again). Planting is done in the daytime; planting at night is optional!
This chart includes the most popular crops. For more information, consult your cooperative extension.
Click on the underlined crops below for free "how to" plant and grow guides!
50% probability of frost free after April 17 (at PORTSMOUTH SCIOTOVILLE, OH climate station).