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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Can Leaves Predict a Storm?

Can Leaves Predict a Storm?

“When leaves show their undersides, be very sure rain betides.”

Weather folklore has always been a big part of the Farmers’ Almanac. Long before there were scientific instruments to measure and predict the weather, people used the only instrument they had: the power of observation.

“Old wives’ tales,” like the one recorded above came about because people noticed patterns in nature, and passed those observations down from generation to generation. Whereas today, we can just switch on the local news (or crack open a Farmers’ Almanac) to get a weather report, our ancestors had to rely on their senses.

But does seeing the undersides of leaves really mean rain is on the way? In this case, our forebears were definitely onto something. The leaves of deciduous trees, like maples and poplars, do often to turn upward before heavy rain. The leaves are actually reacting to the sudden increase in humidity that usually precedes a storm. Leaves with soft stems can become limp in response to abrupt changes in humidity, allowing the wind to flip them over.

1 comment

1 The Future at Hand | Explain the Joke { 07.08.14 at 9:41 pm }

[…] A tree has many leaves (one leaf, two leaves).  Do the leaves turn over?  Not really but maybe before a storm. […]

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.