Weather folklore comes from traditions and they’re often passed on by those who do a lot of planning, like farmers, ranchers, and even sailors. But is there any truth to the most popular weather legends?
When repeated, weather folklore often comes across as true. While some are born in truth and have evolved over time, others are just plain false. Here are a few weather legends and myths and whether or not they’re fact or fiction.
Ever heard of the saying, “a ring around the moon means bad weather is coming?” This one has a little truth behind it. The halos around the moon come from light refracting through the ice crystals in cirrus clouds. Cirrus clouds are the first clouds to appear ahead of a storm. But it’s not so black and white. Cirrus clouds can also be in the sky without a storm approaching. They’re often a whispy cloud seen even on a sunny day.
Early Easter means an early Spring. You can go back in history and find where the two match up several times. But Mother Nature doesn’t follow holidays or lunar patterns which is how the Easter date is calculated. This one is false.
Another common saying, “My joints ache when the weather changes”. This one has truth but it’s still not as widely understood. Studies have confirmed that, yes, changes in weather can impact joints and arthritis. But results were different for each patient in the studies. In a recent Harvard study, for some, it was pressure changes and for others, it was only temperatures. The results weren’t all the same so draw conclusions on treatment. There is a link to weather and joint pain even if it’s not completely understood yet. This one is true.
Many have wondered if you can actually predict snow or snow storms by counting the number of days after a dense fog event. That one is a common myth. There is no correlation between fog and long term weather. Fog tells you what type of air mass you have over you right now but has nothing to do with a storm that could hit you several months from now. I think that one seemed to have gained traction when folks actually counted the days on a calendar and it seemed to be true. But it is purely coincidental.
A commonly spread myth is that “It can be too cold to snow.” This is false. We can still get snow when it’s incredibly cold. The colder we are, the drier the snow and sometimes the snowflake is also smaller which is why it doesn’t add up to as much.
“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor’s take warning.” This was born in a little truth but should never be used when sailing. When sailors were in the prevailing westerly winds, and sailing east, this was helpful before modern-day technology. If they looked to the west and saw a red sky, it was thought to be sun refracting through clouds associated with a storm. If they were sailing east, this wouldn’t be a problem. But when they saw those same red clouds in the east when the sun was rising, they knew they would potentially be sailing into a storm. This obviously has it’s limitations since the sunrise and sunset are often red or orange even without a storm.