Favorite Sayings of Old-Timey Weather Prediction

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Old-Timey weather prediction often proves as reliable, if not more so, than today’s hit and miss predictions. Have you ever wondered how the old-timers predicted weather? Old-timey weather prediction was part science and part wise tales.


Favorite Sayings of Old-Timey Weather Prediction

The weather plays an important role in the life of a homesteader. We find ourselves checking the weather forecast frequently. It helps us plan our days and save those inside chores for when it’s nasty outside. Some things just have to be done no matter what the weather, but knowing what’s ahead is a helpful tool. I enjoy reading reading about and utilizing old-timey weather prediction. Although they probably didn’t know or understand the real science behind them, they knew they worked. Knowledge and information handed down generation to generation became lost as we had weather forecasts on our televisions and radios. We even have whole channels dedicated solely to the weather.

Some of the old-time weather predictions were based on old wives tales and are often comical, but many of them worked. They could predict the weather with great accuracy. My grandparents were closer than any weather man I’ve ever listened to.  These are some of my favorites:

The darker the woolly caterpillar or its brown stripe, the harsher the weather.

The higher the clouds, the better the weather.

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.” Did you know that’s from the Bible? Jesus said,“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.” Matthew 16:2-3

Many of the old-timey sayings about the wind and weather point to the west as the place to watch for developing conditions. Jesus also said, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.” Luke 12:54-55. So people have long known how to read the weather signs.

A weathercock that swings to the west
Proclaims the weather to be the best.
A weathercock that swings to the east
Proclaims no good for man or beast.

Favorite Sayings of Old-Timey Weather Prediction

Bats flying around in the evening indicates fair weather.

To convert cricket chirps to degrees Fahrenheit, count number of chirps in 14 seconds then add 40 to get temperature.

If there is dew in the grass in the morning, chances are it won’t rain that day.

Three dewless morns, rain is for sure.

Dew before midnight, next morn will be bright.

If you make a fire outside and the smoke goes straight up, you will have good weather. If the smoke curls and wisps then rain is on it’s way.

Clear Moon, frost soon.

When clouds appeal like towers, the Earth is refreshed by frequent showers. Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning – rain approaching from the west.

Bees a’ swarmin’ in July, Bring little more than a dry.

When bees stay close to their hive, rain isn’t far away.

When ditch and pond offend the nose, look for rain and stormy blows. 

Chimney smoke that ascends high means fair weather. Chimney smoke that stays low or ascends and then billows back down indicate storms on the way.

The earth and flowers smell strongest just before showers.

Birds fly high, no worries from the skies.

Cattle gathering in a tight group in a corner or even in a field indicate a storm approaching quickly.

Ring around the moon, rain or snow in the next three days.

Well, these aren’t the tip of the iceberg I’m sure. There are so many I don’t know if any one book records them all. I’m often grieved by the knowledge and wisdom we’ve lost from the old-timers. If you’re still fortunate enough to have an older person in your life, please sit and talk to them, listen to them, learn from them.

Can you can add your own old-timey weather predictions to this short list?

Leave a comment to share yours with us.  Have you connected with us on social media? You can find us on the sites listed in the sidebar or at the bottom of this page.

Safe and Happy Journey,

Rhonda and The Pack

Favorite Sayings of Old-Timey Weather Prediction




  1. Tim Coleman on November 29, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I have watched and said about watching smoke from fires for years. If the smoke rises straight up with no movement to either side etc. Expect clear weather for at least 24 hours.

    • Rhonda Crank on November 30, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Tim, Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m glad to know you’ve experienced that this works. 🙂

  2. Diana Hunt on November 29, 2015 at 11:35 am

    When squirrels build nests high in the trees means large amounts of snow. When maple trees turn to silver on the underside of the leaves……it’s going to storm/rain.

    • Rhonda Crank on November 30, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Awesome prediction tips Diana! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  3. Ben on November 29, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Rhonda: Thanks for refreshing my memory. The article made me recall back when I was a boy, and my Dad would predict the weather. You’re right,… so much knowledge and wisdom of the old-timers have been lost. If my memory is serving me correctly, my Dad used to say that when the tree leaves turned over it was a sign that it was going to rain.

    • Rhonda Crank on November 30, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Ben, Thank you for taking the time to share your memories with us. I’m so glad the article reminded you of happy days gone by. I remembered something about trees and their leaves, but just couldn’t locate it. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. Joyce on November 29, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    A ninety year told me this one: Rain before 7, gone by 11.

    • Rhonda Crank on November 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      That’s a good one, Joyce. Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Leann on November 30, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    I love this.

  6. Susie Murrell on December 1, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    If the cows are laying down, it’s gonna rain.

    • Rhonda Crank on December 2, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks, Susie. That’s a great tip!

  7. Stephanie on December 4, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    When the swallow swoops low, expect rain or snow. And: Beware Mate’s tails and Mackerel scales. (Referred to clouds that look like horse’s trail and fish scales. I don’t remember the actual name for the types of clouds. But the horses tail means storm is 48 to 72 hours out and the fish scales is 24 to 48 hours out. I live in Colorado, so the weather is very unpredictable. Started abiding by those two sayings and I’ve been dead on almost every time.)

    • Stephanie on December 4, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Sorry. It’s Mare’s tails. Stupid auto correct.

      • Rhonda Crank on December 5, 2015 at 9:52 am

        I know, don’t you hate it sometimes? Lol

    • Rhonda Crank on December 5, 2015 at 9:51 am

      Thanks Stephanie for sharing these tips. I don’t know that I’ve heard them before. ????

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