Top 10 ways to tell good weather is on the way
In Ireland the weather forecast always says the same thing – “scattered showers with sunny spells”. So how are you supposed to plan a barbeque? Use nature’s signs to predict the weather.
There are enough signs around you to enable you to read the weather and plan whether to get the charcoal in for the barbeque you want to have. We’ve all had barbeque disasters, with the meat in the oven while the coals get a good dousing, But you can avoid that scenario. Here’s how to tell good weather is on the way.
Red Sky at Night
It’s the most oft quoted saying about predicting the weather ‘Red sky at night, shepherds’ delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning’, but it’s still the most accurate. If the sunset colours the sky with rich red, pink and orange hues, the chances are you’re in for fine weather the following day. There is science behind this too, as most weather systems, particularly in Ireland come in from the west, the direction we are looking when we look at the setting sun. The different colours we see are the result of the sun’s rays hitting the earth’s atmosphere and refracted off dust particles and water vapour. When the sunset is red the light is hitting the red end of the spectrum which indicates a high concentration of dust levels in the atmosphere. This would suggest high pressure in the atmosphere and stable air coming in from the West.
Observe the clouds
Cirrocumulus clouds look like ripples of water on a lake. They usually appear high in the sky and dissipate to a blue throughout the day. If the weather if fine, it means it will stay fine for the next few days. If they appear after rain it means good weather is on the way. Cirrus clouds the wispy vapour clouds that appear high up in the sky and are thought to herald an approaching weather front. If they appear during a bad spell of weather it means good fine weather is on the way.
If the mountains in the distance appear unusually close or clear, then it means rain is imminent. If they appear far off, blue and hazy, then the fair weather is set to stick around for a while. There is no one, clear explanation for this, but it is thought that high concentration of moisture in the air has a magnifying optical effect.
The same goes for the moon, if it appears particularly close and clear it could mean rain is on the way. Folklore states that if you see a ring around the moon it means ‘rain soon’. There is truth in this as the ring is due to very high, thin cirrus clouds at about 20,000 feet. The clouds usually indicate an approaching weather front and that can mean rain if the weather is fair. They contain millions of tiny ice crystals that act like mirrors refracting and reflecting the light and sending it in different directions. The result is a ‘halo’ effect. Ring around the moon – rain soon.
Everyone knows the saying about cows lying down means rain on the way. Well it’s true, cows chill out on the ground when rain is on the way and stand around when the weather is good. A recent scientific study by the Universities of Arizona and Northern Missouri looked at the issue as America's milk production suffers in hot weather. They found it to be an accurate prediction of rain. It is thought that cows lie down to make the surface area of their bodies smaller so they conserve heat and energy for the coming rain and dip in temperature.
Cats washing their ears with their paws means rain is on the way. Nobody understands why, because nobody understands cat. They are a law unto themselves. Trust your cat, they have psychic abilities. Some say that the casts are cleaning the glands that produce the scent they use to mark their territory. Rain will wash away their territorial markers so they’re just preparing to lay down their mark after the rain.
They say spiders descend from their webs if rain is in the way. So a web with a big fat spider in the middle is a sign that fair weather is on the way.
If the birds are flying high in the sky it means good weather. If they are swooping low it’s a good indication that rain will follow very soon.
Seagulls prefer to stay on the wing or bob on the sea. If they’re strutting their stuff on the streets, walls or sand of the coast, it means stormy conditions are on the way. But they could just be causing trouble for fun.
Another very accurate weather predicting tool is the pine cone. When good weather is on the way the open up, to allow dry wind to disperse their seeds. In wet weather, the light seeds would be more likely to fall close to the tree, so the pines close up. Open cones – good weather.
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