Weather predictions from Folklore Folks

Spring blossoms ~

Spring blossoms
Spring blossoms | Source

Ways of the grandfathers ~

Folks all over the world have used common sense methods of predicting the weather for generations. The ways their grandfathers used to know what the next season was going to be like are still trusted and accurate today, if you know what to look for, that is.

One of the most endearing and thought provoking aspects of folklore are the superstitions of a particular group of peoples and their geographical location. All over the world folklore has given us a vivid image of the people, their beliefs and lifestyle in almost any setting. From home remedies to superstitions the local folk have lived for generations with the same beliefs their ancestors had lived by and made plans for the seasons according to the signs of nature.

The people of the Ozarks were mainly farmers and had to be experts on the weather and the many moods of nature that could either bless or destroy their crops. Long before today's technology, they had their own way of predicting the weather which usually proved to be pretty accurate. Their methods were not very complicated, in fact they were quite simple and logical. Anyone with enough common sense knew that you could expect rain if you saw rabbits playing in a dusty dirt road.

Spring plowing ~

Farmers know the right time to plow.
Farmers know the right time to plow. | Source

Rain ~

Some other tried and true predictions of rain were:

  • If any animal turned it's back to the wind, you could expect rain.
  • If you saw flint rock sweating, you could expect rain.
  • If one of your hogs was running around with wood in it's mouth, you could expect rain.
  • Rings around the moon? Expect rain.
  • If that darn rooster insists on crowing just after the sun goes down... you can expect rain.

Rainy weather coming, be prepared ~

Statue of woman with umbrella.
Statue of woman with umbrella. | Source

Winter is begun here, now, I suppose. It blew part of the hair off the dog yesterday & got the rest this morning.

— Mark Twain, (In a letter to Chatto and Windus, October 21, 1892.)

Frost and Ol’ Man Winter ~

Frost is one of the dangers for crops, so you have to be prepared before hand. You knew when to expect frost if you paid attention to the katydids. If they start singing, you can expect frost in about six weeks, or if the fawns lose their spots, you will have frost in six weeks time. The first time you see a Walking Stick, you know there will be frost in six weeks. Are the horses in your county growing a lot of fur on their bellies? If so, you can expect a pretty cold winter with early frost. Bears also will grow extra fur if a severe winter is on the way. If you are alert to these signs you will have plenty of time to get your crops harvested and set up for the winter.

Do you have woolly bears (furry caterpillars) in your area? Get acquainted with them and watch their showy colors. If they are turning darker than usual you can expect a colder than usual winter. The darker that woolly bear is the more severe your winter will be. Pay attention to the stripes on the entire woolly bear, for it is like a scale or chart of the coming winter. If there are dark stripes at both the head and tail that is an indication that your winter will start out severe, have a period of mild weather, the end with severe weather.

To be prepared for the winter, you had better pay attention to the signs long before Ol' Man Winter reaches out his bony fingers to touch your land. Well, you just can't sit on your front porch and wonder what winter is gonna be like. If your mind is in the right place, you gotta start watching for signs in the middle of summer! Take August, for instance. If you have four fogs rolling onto your farm in August, why you're gonna have four snows come winter! If you had 40 sunny days between the first of July and the first of September, you can bet your corn pipe you're gonna have just as many freezes come winter. If your trees and bushes show off thick and green leaves, yup!... you're gonna have a hard winter!

Those stubborn cows who lay down and refuse to go out to pasture know a storm will be coming in soon - so, batten down the hatches.

Remember the old fable about the Grasshopper and the Ants? Well, that is true. The ants will become quite busy when they know a long cold winter is coming, so they stock up their food supply. The grasshopper would do well to follow their example. Squirrels will do the same thing by gathering as many nuts and other nutritious treats to last through a cold winter.

Now, cats may seem lazy and rather outside the mainstream of things - yet, actually they are quite intuitive and think outside the box. If your cat cozies up to the fire in your hearth, or to a hot wood burner stove, that is a sure sign that your winter will be a cold one.

Cat cozies up to the fireplace ~

Cat by fireplace? It will be a cold winter.
Cat by fireplace? It will be a cold winter. | Source

Do you have some tried and true weather predictions?

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Spring ~

Now then - come the time of late winter, you gotta start watching for signs of spring to come.

We all know that the groundhog can tell us about this. If that little critter does not see his shadow on February 14 (this is when the Ozark people celebrated Groundhog Day), then, hallelujah! Winter is over! If he does see his shadow, he scampers back down his hole and you just know there will be six more weeks of winter - so put on another pot of stew and keep those fires in the hearth going. In some valleys across the country, people will watch the mountain range nearest them. If all the snow is off the highest mountain they know it is time to start planting the new crops.

If you see that old Turkey Buzzard approaching then you've seen the last day of freezing weather, so you better start getting out your tools and equipment to make sure they are ready to work for you in making your land ready for the spring planting.

Now, see? You gotta be alert year round as to what the next season is gonna be like. You can't just wet your finger and stick it up in the air to see which way the wind is blowing right now. You gotta plan ahead and be prepared, folks!

Beautiful and long awaited Spring ~

Spring flowers.
Spring flowers. | Source

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

— Albert Einstein

Note from author ~

Thank you for reading my article. Your opinions are important to me and let me know your interests. This helps me to offer more of your favorite subjects to read about. Your time and interest are very much appreciated. I hope to hear from you in the comments section below.

I write on several different subjects, all evergreen articles. You can read more about me and see more articles I wrote by clicking on my name by the small picture of me at the top right of this page.

Blessings and may you always walk in Peace and Harmony, softly upon Mother Earth.

Phyllis Doyle Burns - Lantern Carrier, Spiritual Mentor

~ ~ ~ ~

© 2015 Phyllis Doyle Burns

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Comments 32 comments

always exploring profile image

always exploring 18 months ago from Southern Illinois

My mother used to read the old almanac to see when to plant her garden. Interesting how people passed the folklore down through the generations. I bet they were right most of the time. I'm hooked on watching the old reruns of the Walton's. Grandpa had his belief's and the children believed him and carried on the traditions. I enjoyed reading your article. Voted up and shared.

whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 18 months ago from United States

Birds flocking together...bad weather ahead. Fish biting like crazy...just before a weather front moves in. Nice work my friend. whonu

poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 18 months ago

I find future auguries amusing. All this stuff with rocks and animals is pretty cool sounding.

I am hoping the humans who say it will rain a lot this fall are right about that.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 18 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Ruby. My Dad always had a Farmer's Almanac handy and we all loved to hear him read and teach us. Good memories there. Ahh, the Waltons - I miss that show. I have not had TV for a year or so now - gave up on cable. Some day I will get it back and watch old re-runs. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 18 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Whonu - thank you dear friend. I forgot about those to, the birds and fish. Thanks for the reminder. Granpa always watched the birds and fish to tell us what the weather would be. Thanks for the visit and comment.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 18 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi poetryman. It is fun to watch nature and predict weather. Rain - yes, we need a lot of rain this fall and a lot of snow up in the mountains for a good runoff next spring. Thank you for coming by to read and comment. Hope all is well with you.

Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

Very interesting and informative hub Phyllis. In Australia, one of the signs that rain is on the way is if you see black cockatoos. Normally we see white sulfer-crested cockatoos every day, but black ones are not regularly seen. However if you do see the black cockatoos it is said you will have one days rain ahead for every bird. So if you see three black cockatoos together it forsees three days of rain.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 18 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Jodah. How interesting about the black cockatoos. Thanks for sharing that. Thank you also for the visit and very nice comment. Have a good night.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 18 months ago from southern USA

Oh, cool, Phyllis, that you have written a hub from Jackie's question! I am familiar with the Farmer's Almanac because my mother would buy one every year and I thought it interesting how they predicted the weather. Here, right before a terrible tornado hits, there is an eerie silence with no sounds of birds or anything and stillness with no winds then BAM, it hits! Your hubs are always interesting. Oh, I read on the Internet that they is going to be a Super El Nino coming!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 18 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Thank you so much, Faith. I love reading comments from you. I am so glad Jackie's question motivated me to write about weather predictions. It was so fun writing this hub - it brought back many memories of my Dad and Grandpa predicting the weather and listening to them read the Old Farmer's Almanac out loud to us. I must get a subscription to the Almanac, I miss it. Thanks again, Faith and many blessings to you.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 18 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is an entertaining and interesting hub, Phyllis! I enjoyed reading about the weather lore and the old traditions very much.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 18 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Alicia. I love the old folk lore and sayings. I can remember that my Dad and Grandpa never failed to predict the weather accurately. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 17 months ago from Shelton

Phyllis.. I found this hub amazing and entertaining with your added touch it could get no better..bless you

Vellur profile image

Vellur 17 months ago from Dubai

Very interesting and informative article. Nowadays we have advanced methods to know about the weather any give second. It is interesting to read the ways which folks found about weather with different tell tale signs. Great write and enjoyed reading.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 17 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Frank. Glad you enjoyed the hub. I still look for old folk signs for weather casting, like my Dad and Grandpa did in their days. It is fun and really pretty accurate. Thanks so much for the very nice compliment. Blessings to you.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 17 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Vellur. How nice to hear from you. Thanks so much for the visit and comment. I am glad you enjoyed the read. Yes, the advanced methods now are really great. Thanks again, Vellur. Take care.

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 17 months ago from The Beautiful South

I thought I already read this hub; well I know I started it because I remember about the woolly worms; which I always look for. Probably got pulled away by the phone. Sorry about that! I didn't even know it was from my question. Happy to inspire you!

The leaves turning over and showing their backside is a sign I have always used for rain. Just a little could mean no rain; a little more a mild rain and very seriously turned probably means a storm!

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 17 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Jackie. I thought you read it, too. Well, you are here now. That is interesting about the leaves. I forgot about watching the leaves. There are some that are silver on the back side and they make a rustling sound, almost like chimes when a wind comes up. I don't remember the name of the tree. I used to love listening to them, especially at night when I was falling asleep. Usually a rain would follow after the leaves chimed. Apparently we don't have those trees here where I live now.

Thanks for the visit and comment.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 17 months ago from California

What a great hub! I am not superstitious if I can use that term here, but my grandmothers on both sides were from the old country--and we had lots of odd practices in the home as I was growing up

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 17 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Audrey. Both my Mother and Grandmother were superstitious. The kind of weather predictions I wrote about are not superstition, though. Nature has a way of protecting animals from cold weather, thus growth of more fur. Thanks so much for the visit and comment.

sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 17 months ago

very interesting

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 17 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Well thank you, Sujaya.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 17 months ago from England

Hi Phyllis, I loved this! and it made me smile too. It reminded me of my town where if the cows lay down its 'gonna pour with rain' and 'If a Robin starts singing early the winter is on its way' and so on. and yes most of these old wives tales do actually work! lol! I was on the train the other day, and saw all the cows laying down in the grass by the side of the river, and ten minutes later, just after I got off, luckily into a building, it poured! clever old cows! lol!

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 17 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Nell. Ah hahaha ! I guess cows are smarter than we give them credit for. I love old folk sayings and predictions. Good for you a building was there. Hey - thanks for the visit and comment, Nell.

Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 16 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

Hi Phyllis, this is a very interesting subject. My mother-in-law, who would be over a 100 if she were still alive, used to say that it was going to rain when you saw the cat washing it's self. I used to laugh at that one because the cat washed it's self every day. She never seemed to notice that. My grandmother who was even older, used to plant a garden every year and wouldn't plant her seeds until the moon was just right. Those are the only two that I ever heard. Thanks for sharing your information.

Blessings to you.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 16 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Rachel. That is a funny story about your mother-in-law. For some reason she connected the cat washing to rain. My Dad depended on the moon a lot to get signs of the weather and planting his garden. There are so many other weather prediction signs from different cultures around the world. Here in Washo Valley we do not do any spring planting till the snow is gone from Peavine Mountain northwest of us. That is what the Paiute Indian tribes have always gone by and they are right. Thank you, Rachel, for reading and commenting. I am glad you enjoyed this hub.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether

Have you read the book Ozark Magic and Folklore? It talks so much about these aspects of Ozark folklore - the weather, water witches, medicine men, granny women, etc. Anywho, I am SO into American folklore...just adore it.

Was wondering, if you have the ability to download the Kindle app onto a tablet or device, would you be willing to read and review my book on Amazon or elsewhere? I could use all the reads and reviews I can get! Thanks, Phyllis. Hope you are well.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 16 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Kitty. No, I have not read Ozark Magic and Folklore. I will add that to my wish list. Edain McCoy's book, Mountain Magic - Folk Wisdom From the Heart of Appalachia, is another book I want to get.

My computer is very old and will not support any new downloads, so can't get Kindle yet. I read as much as what Amazon shows and it is interesting. I would very much like to read it all and write a hub review for you.

Thanks for reading my weather predictions, Kitty. Hope all is well with you, too.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether

Phyllis - What if I sent you the Word Doc/PDF version? You could read for free and wouldn't have to download anything to your computer? I would love to do that. :)

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 16 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

That would be great, Kitty. Thanks.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether

Phyllis - What email do you want me to send it to?

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 16 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Kitty - The one in my profile. Go to my profile page. Click on Fan Mail. Click on 'Send Phyllis an email.'

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