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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

5 Ways You Can Predict the Weather

5 Ways You Can Predict the Weather

Don’t let it rain on your parade or beach day! Check out these weather sayings then commit them to memory. Let us know how accurate they are too.

1. Hoping for a nice, dry day? Check for dew on the grass. According to weather lore:

When the dew is on the grass
Rain will never come to pass.
When grass is dry at morning light,
Look for rain before the night.

Why? If dew has time to form on the ground overnight, it means the night was clear without any clouds. Clear skies allow the earth to cool, and water to condense in the form of dew (or frost at cooler times of the year). If the night is cloudy, the clouds act as a heat barrier keeping the heat in and not allowing dew to form. This saying assumes that if the night skies are clear, the day following will also be cloud-free.

2. Tails have it. No, we’re not talking coins; we’re talking horses and cattle. According to lore:

Tails pointing west,
Weather’s at its best.
Tails pointing east,
Weather is least.

If  you can locate a cow or horse, note which way their tails are facing. People have observed that cows and horses prefer not to have the wind blowing in their faces, so they usually stand with their backs to the wind. Since westerly winds typically mean arriving or continuing fair weather and easterly winds usually indicate arriving or continuing unsettled weather, a tail is as good a way as any of knowing what the weather will be up to for the next few hours.

3. Summer fog means fair weather is on its way. Fog is made up of condensed water droplets which are the result of the air being cooled to the point where it can no longer hold water vapors. In the summer, the air can only cool enough if the night sky is clear enough that the heat can be radiated into space. If the night is cloudy, the clouds act as a blanket to keep it in. If you see a fog during the summer, it usually means that the next day will be clear. Here’s the rhyme:

Summer fog for fair,
A winter fog for rain.
A fact most everywhere,
In valley or on plain.

4. Think Fish. There are many weather sayings that are associated with fish. If you fish, you know the weather is a factor in how successful (or not) you’ll be that day. This lore has to do with trout. The saying goes:

Trout jump high,
when a rain is nigh.

The belief behind this lore is that when air pressure lowers, gasses created by decaying plant matter, which resides on the bottom of the lake or body of water, begin to release. This, in turn, causes the tiny microorganisms that live in these plants to be released into the water, creating a feeding frenzy among the fish. This frenzy sometimes causes the little fish and big fish to start jumping around. Thus the saying.

5. If the rooster crows on going to bed, You may rise with a watery head. Many people believe that animals, especially birds, can sense when there’s a decrease in air pressure. People have observed that an approaching storm makes birds restless. And when a rooster can’t rest, he tends to crow more.

Have you ever used signs from nature to predict the weather? Share your experiences below.


1 A poster of Māori weather and climate indicators from NIWA { 01.26.15 at 8:09 pm }

[…] came across a lot of sites featuring old-timey weather predictors. I like this one on Farmers Almanac about […]

2 Synwell { 01.10.15 at 1:07 am }

“Rain at seven done by eleven” is what my husband says if it is raining in the morning and it holds true every time.

Also birds will fly close to the ground when the barometer is low or falling.

3 liecy { 11.29.14 at 10:26 am }

When the fysh lie in the sea
Then good weather it will be
But when the fysh lie in the lake
The weather it will break.

4 Lorraine Measor { 07.18.14 at 9:13 pm }

Red Sky at Night…..Sailors’ Delight! Red Sky in the Morning …..Sailors’ Warning!

5 jane adams { 07.18.14 at 6:43 pm }

my dad always said if smoke goes to the ground will be a change in the weather. live in sw missouri

6 jessieB { 07.18.14 at 5:16 pm }

I know we are talking about rain but my daddy taught me that when there is a ring around the moon you count the stars in the ring and that’s how many days till snow arrives.

7 Regina { 07.02.14 at 12:33 pm }

Since it’s coming into Dog Days, My parents often said the way dog days sets in is the weather you will have for 40 days. Dog Days sets in July 3, 2014. There was a year I remember when the weather set in raining hard day and night in the area I lived in. It rained hard for 40 days & nights. A friend I had told about Dog Days asked me when it would end and I told him Aug, 11. and sure enough there was no rain for several days in our area after Aug 11. Not sure of the year but it was when the Central and Eastern States flooded and so many people lost their ;life. Another one I remember was the weather set it perfect for me. Mid-70’s during the day and rain during the evening and almost no humidity at all.
The Bible talks of the sky color:
“……When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering…….”

8 Brenda { 06.25.14 at 12:44 pm }

My mom always said (and I have actually found this to be uncannily accurate) that when tree frogs holler, there will be stormy weather. I live in the Ozarks, and a few years ago, on May 3, it was an unsettled warm/hot day and the tree frogs hollered a lot. The next day, May 4, the weather was very stormy and unsettled, and Pierce City, MO, area was struck by a tornado.

9 TDay { 06.25.14 at 11:50 am }

The high desert is hard to predict, with mountains, valleys,etc. but predicting wind is easy in the Spring. It is said, ” that only fools and new comers predict the weather in New Mexico.

10 Sally Ragsdale Harvey { 06.25.14 at 11:24 am }

My Grandmaw always told me when there are crows on the ground the rain will come down. And its true. And when the leaves turn over there will be rain. True also…

11 sandy { 06.25.14 at 10:14 am }

rain on easter rain 7 more sundays

12 sandy { 06.25.14 at 10:13 am }

sun n shower won’t last half an hour. when cottonwood flying crappie are biting

13 Bryan { 06.24.14 at 11:55 pm }

Marestails [ high altitude cirrus clouds] in the sky, a change in the weather, usually in < 48°

14 Bryan { 06.24.14 at 11:52 pm }

Halo around the moon, rain within 48°…………

15 Isabelle Garcia { 06.24.14 at 11:37 pm }

My mom always said that you could tell it was gonna rain when the leaves on the trees turned over. I have always looked to the leaves on the trees to forecast rain. It is very accurate.

16 Sumaya { 06.24.14 at 4:43 pm }

Back home in Quebec, we say when swallows fly low, there will be rain.

17 Stephen Bradley { 06.24.14 at 2:25 pm }

Our old farm manager use to say that when chimney smoke turns toward the ground then snow is on the way.

18 { 06.24.14 at 2:25 pm }

I look at cloud formation……..hairs mare cirrus…rain within 2 days

19 Lauren { 04.14.13 at 11:20 pm }

I always heard the taller the wild onions grew in spring & summer, the harder the winter would be. Same as the more acorns & berries there are the more snow there will be. Also when birds & bugs are quiet, rain is coming.

20 Carolyn { 04.14.13 at 10:47 pm }

My Mother used to say if it rains on the first day of the month it would rain fifteen days of that month. Also if it thunders in February you would have a good fruit crop. You can tell if rain is coming by the flies on the pourch and trying to get in the house.

21 daisyrothschild { 04.14.13 at 12:09 pm }

Yes, the New England one: Red sky at morning, sailor take warning
Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Here in Colorado, when the Oak tree’s leaves fold over backwards, it always is a sign of precipitation. The Oak is the first to drop its leaved in fall when winter truly begins, and the last to leaf out in Spring. That’s when we plant. Used to be we could tell the severity of winter by how fuzzy the catepillars were, but we don’t see many anymore. If they spun cocoons early in the fall, winter wasn’t far off. We’ve been organic 20 years now. We have more birds than ever, they eat the bugs.

22 DC M { 04.14.13 at 10:36 am }

The amount of fur on animals in fall can predict the winter’s severity. Not sure how climate change and/or pollution effects this olde time method. Many tree leaves turn down just before and during rain and up to catch sun.

23 l k rajkhowa { 02.14.13 at 2:07 am }

Itching inside ear of a man may predict rain or fair weather; it depends on man to man whether the ear inside oily or dry. If ear is oily it will be prediction of rain.

24 Jch { 02.05.13 at 1:00 am }

My father came in from outside early in morning nit was a cloudless day a beautiful sunrise I overheard him call my aunt n predicted it was going to hail today sure enough at 2 icloud astorm cloud came from southeast and it started hailing n the sun was still out how did he know that he took it to his death he never told me???????

25 Maryann { 02.02.13 at 1:30 pm }

What is the old saying about snow falling at first real fine that it will last a long time?

26 becky { 10.28.12 at 1:09 am }

Curdle clouds up in the sky will never leave this land of ours dry … that’s what my Dad always told me and it is pretty much true! Also ring around the moon means change in the weather – number of stars in the ring will tell you how many days before it hits!

27 josh mcentee { 09.12.12 at 11:46 pm }

I’ve offen found that crickets are great indicaters of good weather, I found that they chirp more when the nights are cool and clear. So as a landscaper by trade when I hear crickets before bed for long periods of time I know I’m in for a great day.

28 Mike { 08.18.12 at 5:11 pm }

Wind from the West, Fishing’s the Best- Wind from the East, Fishing’s the least.

29 snowlover { 08.06.12 at 10:45 am }

I love weather folklore! I am almost 100% certain about the large amount of acorns & the foggy August mornings bringing a snowy winter.

30 Donna { 07.25.12 at 12:31 pm }

My grandfather always told us here in Michigan that storms from the east not fit for man nor beast. Usually 3 day storms here are from the east and soakers. He also said the way to predict the summer months weather were determined by the first 3 days of spring. In other words,the first day of spring was indicative of June, the second July and the third August. The first full day of spring is usually March 21 I believe. Go from there.

31 Lois Rankin { 04.04.12 at 1:50 pm }

I live in S. Texas, but was born and raised in WVA. I miss the state so very much. I have 3 daughters here that won’t move back to the hills, I am homesick, any suggestions?

32 W.L. { 04.04.12 at 12:02 pm }

I live in the BlueRidge Mountains of western Virginia and I have noticed for many years that when the robins leave late in the fall there is not much snow to follow. We had the same this year robins were late in leaving and we had very little snow. It is normal for the robins to leave our area about the last of oct or early nov.When they are still here in late nov. we receive almost no heavy snow.

33 mary moyers { 08.21.11 at 2:01 pm }

the saying of red skies ar nite etc. is in the Bible

34 Duane Smith { 08.19.11 at 11:37 am }

“when leaf bottoms turn to the sky, rain is neigh” (I just made that up) but it seems to bear out what my Grandmother told me – that if leaves turn over in the wind, it predicts rain.

35 megan { 08.19.11 at 10:00 am }

I’ve also heard the expression of cows lying down, rain is on the way. I read that they sense the low pressure and are more comfortable lying down then than at other times.

I can’t say that the explanation is true, but i do know when i lived near cows (they were Holsteins), within 24 hours, the lying down/rain connection was greater than 90%, and within 48 hours 99%.

An acquaintance who grew up on a farm never heard the cows lying down/rain connection, and said that he must have had lazy cows on his farm, because they always seemed to be lying down, and he didn’t see any connection to that and rain.

36 joe u { 02.25.11 at 3:01 pm }

we had lightning & thunder Feb 24 wichita ks .some say a frezee in april .What does lore say ?

37 Liz { 12.25.10 at 9:53 pm }

I live on the Virginia coast, so we have to watch out for hurricanes. Back in 2003, I noticed a very odd phenomenon. In the front yard, my mother had two plants with long, tall, viney branches that swayed very easily in the breeze. The name escapes me, but the plant was light green with small purple flowers. I noticed that every flower up and down the stalks, probably close to 100, each had a large bumble bee curled up inside, head first. Within 24 hours, Hurricane Isabel hit, the worst storm we’d seen in about 20 years. Everytime I looked outside, the bees were still riding those flowers despite 90 mph winds! In later years, when others hurricanes were on the way, I’d check to see if there were bees in the flowers. Thankfully, they haven’t been and we haven’t had any storms that severe since. I would guess that the flexibilty of the branches meant they could adapt to the wind rather than be snapped off and the height would keep the bees safe from flooding. I have no idea what could have caused it, but I trust the bees (though I’ll still heed the national weather service!).

38 chris s { 10.30.10 at 10:49 am }

A farmer told me that lots of snow is on the way if the apple tree limbs are heavy with apples, also if the hornets build thier nest high there will be lots of snow.

39 Nimbostratus { 10.19.10 at 12:44 pm }

I’ve noticed that on fair days when there is persistent aerial spraying over the local area, (aka “chemtrails”) an overcast and/or rainy day will usually follow.

40 peter { 10.13.10 at 2:00 pm }

some tires will turn blue,green before rain

41 nature watcher { 10.06.10 at 9:57 am }

To Farm Girl, When the leaves fall, keep looking for that rebuilt hornets nest. If the nest is built low, no precipitation-(no snow) expected. If the nest is built up high – preciptation (snow) is expected. Was told this by an Appalachian 20 yrs ago. I have been watching these black&white baldface hornets ever since & they are ‘dead on’. Last year, we spotted the brown paper nest @ the top of a tree & we got all that 2009/2010 snow. We will see where the hornets nest rests this year, after the leaves fall.

42 FRED W BROWN { 08.31.10 at 6:19 am }


43 julie { 08.03.10 at 4:23 pm }

I have noticed that the plants, both wild and domestic have been maturing and going to seed WAY earlier than usual. My prediction is an early, heavy,long winter.

44 Farm Girl { 07.19.10 at 3:54 pm }

We had a hornet’s nest on our farm until a few days ago. It was about as low to the ground as the hornets could possibly build and not actually touch the ground. It was huge! And then I went to look at it
Saturday and it was all in pieces on the ground.

45 Brenda Wells { 07.19.10 at 1:33 pm }

My family has three American bulldogs. My husband used a test off the Internet to test the dogs’ intelligence. One tested on a genius level. Besides being able to unlatch hooks, recognize many words, and tell us whenever and whatever he needs, he is our “weather dog.” Whenever bad weather is coming, even a short rain, he stays in his dog house.

46 Christine { 07.15.10 at 7:37 pm }

A ring around the moon indicates rain coming. It has worked for me for years, even when the weather report does not say rain. The further out the ring goes, the longer the days away before the rain comes. A real tight ring means rain in 24hrs or less. After a while you can pretty much tell, by the distance of the ring, how many days away the rain will be.

47 Carole { 07.12.10 at 9:19 am }

When I saw a lot of acorns on the ground last fall here in New Jersey I knew we were in for a lot of snow and I was right!!! It was a winter wonderland last February with more snow than I’ve seen since the 1990’s when again there was one particular year in which I felt many acorns crunching under my shoes and that was a year again with record setting snow!

48 Hannah { 07.11.10 at 10:34 pm }

Last summer and fall (’09) I started diligently observing several ‘nature’ weather indicators that are suppose to predict the winter weather. Living here in beautiful rural East Tennessee, I was surrounded by ‘signs’….wooly worms, bark on the trees, fogs in August, size of spider webs, height of hornets’ nests, amounts of nuts and berries, and the shape inside the persimmon seed. Collecting all of my necessary ‘data’ over a several week period, I made my prediction along with pictures of some of my ‘data’ and posted it on my blog so that ‘others’ could see I just didn’t ‘make it up’. By golly, I hit the nail on the head with our winter weather….cold, snow, snow, snow…more than we’ve seen in many years. I’m already checking out the wooly worms for this winter’s prediction and making my mental notes.

49 Rosi { 07.11.10 at 9:03 pm }

My Mother always said to watch & remember what the weather is like for the first three days of a month. if it comes in mild, then the month will end with stormy weather; if the month starts on a stormy note, then the month will end with mild weather. and she had a similar saying for determining the weather for the year, but do not remember it.

50 Valerie Neal { 07.11.10 at 6:47 pm }

topeallino, if the cows are lying down, the fish are not bitting….. At least that’s what I was told.

51 Sue { 07.09.10 at 9:58 am }

I have always heard that if the cows were laying down it meant it was going to rain. I also had a husky/shepard mixed dog that would prance back and forth with his tail down before a bad storm. I could always tell something wasn’t quite right by watching the dog. He would also howl at a full moon. I’ll add one more it is true if you watch the leaves if they turn back to see the under neath there is a storm brewing close by look for the rain

52 Chris Wight { 07.08.10 at 8:24 am }

I grew up as a sailor on the NJ Shore. One summer teaching sailing I would take the kids to the top of the foot bridge on the yacht club property, really to just get their heads up and look! If the morning was sunny, warming and few breezes we watched for building clouds in the west. Within an hour or so, a refreshing seabreeze arrived, usually between 11am-1pm. The wind would blow out of the southeast and sailing was the thing to do!

53 topeallino { 07.08.10 at 4:17 am }

What is the saying about fishing and cows laying down? I remember my grandfather talking about it, but sadly he’s been gone for 30+ years (my dad doesn’t remember it…..)

54 norma in elysian fields,texas { 07.07.10 at 4:40 pm }

cool mornings most red wasps stay on the nest…then when the temp. reaches a certain degree they leave the nest….cannot remember the temp._ yet it is a good day to keep small pets and of cours small children inside! over forty years this has proven itself true.

55 cathy { 07.07.10 at 4:01 pm }

if there is lightning in February it will frost in May.
count the fogs in August and that is how many snows you will have.

56 sunnygirl { 07.07.10 at 3:26 pm }

Another one about dew. If the grass is dry at bedtime it will rain the next day. If the grass is wet it will be clear.

57 sunnygirl { 07.07.10 at 3:25 pm }

Watch turtles. If they are on the move up hill it means there will be a flood or at least a very heavy rain within a very few days. I have noticed that this is true.

58 enb { 07.07.10 at 1:57 pm }

I heard that the more red berries there are
On vines, bushes or anything the more snow
there will be in winter. I thought that was very
Interesting so the past few years I’ve compared
What berries were in my backyard to the amount
of snow that winter. So far its been true and last
summer beginning of autumn there were tons of
red berries and over the winter we had at one
Point 15 in. of snow on the ground from one snow fall.
Not to mention the accumulation on top of that.

59 Betty C { 07.07.10 at 12:42 pm }

“Mares tales in mackerel sky,
Never long wet,
Nerver long dry”

60 blinkey { 07.07.10 at 12:20 pm }

we have two squirrels around our house and they have a nest in one of our trees. One day last winter we noticed that they were carrying leaves in their mouth and going to their nest and i told my wife that they new something.In a few days it came a big snow. We hadn’t had a snow like that since 1997. From now on We will watch the squirrels.

61 Sandi Duncan { 07.07.10 at 11:26 am }

Regarding the Red Sky at Night, Sailors’ Delight saying ..the thought is that weather systems usually move from west to east. A reddish evening sky can be caused by sunlight shining through dry dust particles in the western sky. This dry sky should be over your head in the morning. If the morning is gray in the east, it means the clouds have already passed you.

Conversely, if the evening is gray, it means the clouds have not yet reached you. Rain may be on its way.

62 Sandi Duncan { 07.07.10 at 11:21 am }

@Vicki – the leaves one seem true – 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.

63 Sandi Duncan { 07.07.10 at 11:12 am }

According to our research, this one isn’t that accurate. Cows lying down in a field more often means they’re chewing their cud, rather than preparing for raindrops. Interestingly enough, there are other cow sayings out there that are also far-fetched. Supposedly cows produce better or milk easier when they are listening to lowbrow or jazz music; however, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture refutes this notion, saying that the music is more for the workers than the cows, as there have been no findings to back the greater productivity theory.

64 technonana { 07.07.10 at 10:59 am }

After moving to the Ozark Mtns. we learned a number of weather indicators. One was “If the sun sets behind a bank of clouds, you will have rain within 24 hours.” An explanation would be that most rain storms come from the West therefore, if you have clouds in the western sky, they will probably be bringing rain soon to our area.

65 Vicki { 07.07.10 at 10:40 am }

My Papaw always told me you knew it was going to rain when you could see the underside white of the leaves.

66 Joelle kelly { 07.07.10 at 10:31 am }

HI, We have a 5 year old German Shephard and and her name is Skye, about a month ago she started pacing the floors we could`nt figure out why she was doing that , until we had a thunder storm late that evening and rain, she was gettting pretty restless the hole two days before , so now we always listen to the weather report to see if we were right about Skye, if she can really scence a storm coming , and we were right , she now paces the floor before it actualy comes ,,, Too calm skye down we have to turn on a fan for noise so she dont hear the Thunder ,,

67 Kent Cook { 07.07.10 at 10:26 am }

My grandmother taught me to look at the ant hills. The ant’s will build up the side of their hill which indicates the direction the next storms will come from. My grandmother learned this from her grandmother which she was a Black Hawk Indian. My grandmother learned a lot from her Grandmother and passed it on to me and now I’m passing it on to my Grandson. She told me about watching the cows and horses to determin the direction of the wind and also the direction of the next storm. She also said you should spit on the worm when fishing because the fish are tracked to the spit. All of this knowledge came from her Grandmother. These are just a few thing I learned from my Grandmother. She also taught me to look at the setting sun and hold you finger horizontal to the sun. Each finger tells you how long the sun will remain. Each finger is 15 mins till the sun sets. Black Hawks used it to determined who long they would have to set up there evening camp if away from home.

68 Deborah L Gerhardt { 07.07.10 at 10:18 am }

Red sky at morning sailors take warning,red sky at night sailors delight. If I see a red sky at morning it does usually bring rain and wind,and the red sky at night is a good indicater for good weather.

69 Rose { 07.07.10 at 9:29 am }

Those are all very good. How about “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailor’s take warning”. Does this saying hold true like the others? Is there a scientific explanation for it?

70 George Mitchell { 07.07.10 at 9:28 am }

Here, in the Blue Ridge mountains, we watch Wooly Worms. They’re rust-colored. If they’re showing black only at the front and back, winter will be mild. If they’re half-black or more, winter will be hard. Last year, they were at least 50% black and we had a long, cold winter.

71 charlie barnes { 07.07.10 at 9:25 am }

red sky at night:
sailors delight.
red sky at morning:
sailors take warning.

72 Sfwalk { 07.07.10 at 9:18 am }

I have heard if cows are laying down, rain will come soon. What is the basis for this saying?

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