waking up to a stunning pink sky is a beautiful way to start the day.
but some think otherwise. here we examine the most popular weather superstitions and the meaning of their sayings.
red night sky, shepherd’s delight
The concept of “red sky at night, a shepherd’s delight” first appeared in the bible in the book of matthew.
The proverb is generally true, as long as the prevailing weather conditions come from the west, such as in the UK.
When high pressure prevails, dust and small particles can become trapped in the air, scattering “blue” light and making red light more visible.
A red sunset means high pressure is approaching from the west, bringing stable conditions and often nice, dry weather.
the phrase is also sometimes “pink sky at night” instead of red.
alternatives also include “dwindling sailors” instead of shepherds.
red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning
the previous sentence continues “red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning”.
If the sky is red or pink in the morning, it is likely that the high pressure has passed to the east, giving way to more low pressure systems, and rain, to enter.
rain before seven, good at eleven
There is some truth to this saying: if it rains before seven, chances are it has been raining all night and the storm is coming to an end.
this often gives way to good weather later in the day.
However, as we all know, the rain in the UK tends to last much longer.
The old English proverb is occasionally applied to other situations where things are expected to get better after a bad start.
a lazy cow means rain is on the way
This is an old wives’ tale that cows lie down in the grass when wet weather approaches.
a study by the university of arizona and missouri found that cows stand for long periods when it’s hot and lie down when it’s cooler, which usually happens just before a weather system approaches.
Scientists say this helps regulate the animals’ core body temperature.
However, cows lie down for many other reasons, and there is no scientific evidence that rain is one of them.
clear moon, frost soon
When the night sky is clear, the earth’s surface cools rapidly; there are no clouds to keep the heat inside.
If the night is clear enough to see the moon and the temperature drops enough, frost will form.
But this saying is not true on a clear summer night.
believed to be a Scottish proverb but the original source is unknown.
pineapples predict bad weather
pinecones open and close based on humidity to aid seed dispersal.
Inside the pineapple, there are many feather-light seeds.
When the weather is dry, the pineapple splits open and any wind will catch the seeds and allow them to disperse into the air away from the original tree.
when humidity rises and rain is likely, the pineapple closes up to prevent the seeds from escaping.
But plants and animals don’t predict the weather, they just react to it.
feeling bad weather in the bones
The idea of feeling “under the weather” was created by the Greek physician Hippocrates.
Nowadays, people often claim they can feel the approach of cold weather on their aching teeth and bones.
But scientists haven’t found conclusive evidence of a link between pain and weather.
However, a 2007 American Journal of Medicine study of 200 people with knee osteoarthritis found a relationship between barometric pressure (the “weight of air”) and pain level.
a lunar halo means rain is coming
If you see a halo around the moon on a clear night, it could be an indication of bad weather ahead.
While it may look like a ghostly ring, you’re actually seeing the moonlight slanting through the ice crystals.
These ice crystals form cirrus clouds, faint ones that we find very high in the sky.
These cirrus clouds do not bring rain or thunderstorms, but they precede some low pressure systems by a day or two, and low pressure systems bring precipitation storms.
counting lightning and thunder reveals the distance of a storm
according to folklore, after seeing lightning, you should count the number of seconds that pass before you hear thunder.
every five seconds equals one mile between you and the storm.
at sea level and around 20c, sound travels through the atmosphere at around 1,129 feet per second.
so, for every five seconds between lightning and thunder, sound travels 5,645 feet, or about a mile.
It is useful to know if the storm is approaching or receding.