We have all wanted to contribute to the list of words, (mostly unpleasant), we use to describe weather forecasters. This desire usually coincides with a wet picnic or cookout. While sitting around a cramped table indoors, listening to the rain, the list begins. The sentiment is universal; forecasters are no darned good!
The truth is that the professional forecasters are usually pretty accurate, but while many of us are watching Herb, Craig or Dave, there are those who have forecasters of a different nature. They swear by such forecasters as caterpillars, geese, leaves and a whole assortment of "signs."
These "signs" have been handed down as folklore for generations. Many can be grouped into the amusing, or superstitious type, but close examination shows that a few have some scientific basis.
Almost everyone has heard this little poem, and we often think about it if we are watching the Sun rise or set. As well as being one of the best known of weatherlore, it is also one of the most accurate. When the sky is red colored in the west at sunset, it means that there is a breakup of the clouds and clearing skies. The sunlight is able to penetrate through the clouds and is scattered by smaller molecules of moisture and dust. When the sky is red in the east at sunrise, it means the sunlight is being scattered by small molecules high in the atmosphere that often accompany an approaching warm front from the west, a sign of approaching inclement weather.
Another piece of weather folklore that has some truth to it is:
The logic behind this is that geese and other birds fly wherever the air offers their wings the most lift. This would be where the air is the most dense. When we experience a high pressure system of good weather, the denser air is perhaps a thousand feet above the ground, and that is where the geese will be flying. When a low pressure system moves in, often just before precipitation, the denser air is close to the ground and, if youíre a goose, thatís the best place for flying.
A great deal of weather folklore is not accurate and should be treated as amusement. Some of the most common are:
"Rain on Sunday means some rain during the next week." Though this one has no scientific basis, the chance of rain in any seven day period is always good.
"The more dark color on the woolly bear caterpillar, the more sever the winter will be." This is nonsense, if you look at a lot of caterpillars, you will find a great range in coloring.
"When the new moon falls on Saturday, the following twenty one days will be wet and windy nine times out of ten." Daring odds, but the position of the moon around the Earth has nothing to do with rainfall or wind.
While some weather folklore has some truth to it, (Herb, Craig or Dave might even admit to it), it is not the most practical to use, unless you can separate fiction from truth. The real secret to forecasting is a good understanding of meteorology along with use of weather satellites. The TV forecasters may not be right all of the time, but they are far better than watching moons and caterpillars!
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