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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Wild Weather Forecasters

Wild Weather Forecasters

You’ve probably heard lore about animals that can predict the weather. Some of it (like, if a cat washes her face over the ear, ‘tis a sign weather will be fine and clear) may sound silly or hard to believe, but some is based on observations of animals that seem to sense more about our environment than we do. Here are just a few animals that have things to tell us about the weather.

Cricket Thermometers
The sound of crickets chirping is a sure sign of summer, but did you know that it can also tell you how hot it is? Crickets are cold-blooded so when the temperature in the air changes, the cricket’s body temperature changes with it. As the temperature rises, the cricket’s metabolism increases, allowing the process that triggers the chirp-creating muscle contractions to happen more quickly. Frequent chirping is a sure sign that the heat is rising!

To figure out the exact temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 14 seconds and add 40. To get Celsius, count the number of chirps in 25 seconds, divide that by 3, and then add 4.

“If birds fly low, expect rain and a blow”
Do animals tell us when a storm is coming? Birds react to the drop in air pressure before a storm by flying low, and not flying at all an hour or so before the storm hits. Other animals behave strangely before a storm too–bats fly low and insects stay close to the ground, while wolves howl because the pressure change hurts their ears.

Before a big storm, fish tend to bite more often, hence the phrase, “trout jump high, when rain is nigh.” Bees stay close to their hive, and ants scuttle around busily just before a storm and even cover up the entrance to the ant-hill to keep out rainwater.

When will summer end?
Just ask the fish! Fishermen have noticed that in the fall, migrating fish come back early in years when there are early freezes, but they come out later than usual in years when the rivers freeze late.

Dangerous Weather
Animals seem to have a sixth sense for danger that people might do well to observe. Before a hurricane, sharks that rarely leave their home waters will flee the path of the storm, responding to changes in barometric pressure, while seagulls and other birds instinctively fly inland.

Many animals are far more sensitive to vibrations in the ground than humans, and extreme changes in animal behavior can sometimes be an indicator that an earthquake is about to occur. After the 2005 tsunami in Sri Lanka, it was reported that very few animals were killed despite the massive loss of human life. Many of them were also acting strangely in the day before the tsunami hit. It seems likely that they sensed something coming and knew to flee to safety.  A good rule is, if the animals are making a getaway, you probably should too.

15 comments

1 Carol Jackson { 09.10.14 at 2:09 pm }

They say when cats clean behind their ears that the weather is getting ready to change. There is a gland behind their ears that bothers them when the pressure out side changes.

2 Vicki { 09.10.14 at 7:07 am }

Our harbingers of winter are the grey seals. We might see the odd one at any time, but if there’s a pod of them in the river, it will freeze over within the week.

3 Doreen { 09.09.14 at 4:24 pm }

A couple of years ago we had a slight earthquake in the middle of the night (Illinois). Approximately 15 seconds before it hit, we were awaken by the sound of our German Sheperd scratching her nails on the floor while getting up, and then start whining and pacing. Then we felt it. She felt something before we did.

4 Jenny Marie { 09.09.14 at 1:03 pm }

I have complied a whole list of Weather Folklore on my blog
http://jennymariesmusings.com/2014/09/blizzard-in-south-carolina/

5 Roger Martin { 06.03.14 at 5:56 pm }

They all sound like great ways to get the weather. After all, our great granpaws n granmaws didn’t. Have TV to rely on. Not mine anyway!

6 daisy { 05.31.14 at 10:57 am }

Yep, a lot of these are familiar. Our Oak tree out back is the last to leaf out in spring, so never gets caught in our late Colorado snows. It also flips its leaves over when rain is coming. And is the first to drop its leaves in fall when winter is near. Although one doesn’t see them hardly anymore, heavy wool on wooly caterpillars could foretell a heavy winter. In New England my grandma said, “Red sky at morning, Sailor take warning, Red sky at night, Sailor’s delight.”

7 elizabeth { 05.30.14 at 7:44 pm }

My Pop Pop was a navy sailor. He swore when you saw seagulls flying inland, a storm was coming.

8 Kendra S. { 02.02.13 at 10:22 pm }

livin in the country these past 6 years has taught me a couple things also. if there is dew on the morning grass u can exect a fair weather day, if there is no dew on the grass u can expect rain that day. if u happen to see a shiny spot in the sky that appears to be rainbow in color called a “sun dog” it will rain w/i 48hrs. buzzards come back from the south when warmer weather in near too.

9 Laurie Prather { 02.02.13 at 1:59 pm }

I was told to watch the leaves on a tree is they turned upward there was rain comming.

10 kenneth { 05.09.10 at 8:58 am }

i grew up in the suburbs and loved it.now i live in the suburbs in al.i have a few cows and they can tell you the weather if you can sit and watch long enough.hopefully one day i will find an partner that will enjoy also.the birds are very informative.

11 Sheila { 05.05.10 at 1:58 pm }

My Irish family swore when grazing sheep gathered low on the hillside it was going to rain. And I think I remember being told sheep and cows will lie down and get their bellies on the ground in bad weather. Animals are fascinating.

12 Corliss Tolliver { 05.05.10 at 1:40 pm }

I grew up on a farm also. When we worked in the fields, my mom would always tell us , “keep your eyes to the sky.” So if the clouds start to rise and got dark we new to head to the house. I still use that saying today.

13 Charlotte { 05.05.10 at 11:56 am }

We live in the foothills. We have noticed over a period of time that when the Tarantulas come out then we are in for a weather change. Also, if we have an abundance of acorns on the oak trees, we will have a heavy winter.

14 Pam { 05.05.10 at 10:24 am }

This is true. Everyone should remember last Fall and the signs that the animals gave us to let us know about the upcoming bad winter we had. Thanks to the Farmers Almanac I knew what to look for.

15 Beverly { 05.05.10 at 9:54 am }

I grew up on a farm. Therefore I learned about different signs from what my Mom would say and other signs that would predict the weather. To this day some I still take seriously.

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