One of the things that I love about my house is the view.  My house was built on a hill so they turned the scope upside down and placed the bedrooms downstairs. This leaves me to gaze out down the hill to an old Tweed Mill and across the skyline.

I really can see the weather coming in advance from this vantage point. It really is stunning. One of the best parts of being able to watch the sunset is the rainbow of colours that is provided. Tonight the sky is a glorious hue of Red. It reminds me of the saying that my grandparents always said. “Red Sky at Night – Shepherds Delight. Red Sky in the Morning – Shepherds Warning.”

Is there any substance to this saying?

This proverb can be found in the bible, gospel of St Matthew. Dates back thousands of years, when weather forecasting was based more on human experience than scientific data.

According to the Met Office in the UK weather systems predominantly come from the west “Red sky at night, shepherds delight” can often be proven true. A red sky at sunset means high pressure is moving in from the west so therefore the next day will usually be dry and pleasant.

Likewise “Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning” means a red sky appears due to the high pressure weather system having already moved east meaning the good weather has passed, most likely making way for a wet and windy low pressure system.

The Red in the sky is caused when dust and small particles are trapped in the atmosphere by high pressure. This scatters blue light and leaving only red light to give the sky its notable appearance.

Weather proverbs were particularly important in sailing and agriculture as they looked for reliable forecasts ahead. I have discovered a multitude of old weather sayings that are still used today.

  • Rain before seven, fine by eleven – this is very British, if it rained early the westerly wind will blow it away quickly
  • Clear Moon, Frost soon
  • When halo rings Moon or Sun, rain’s approaching on the run
  • Mackerel sky and mare’s tails make tall ships carry low sails (‘mackerel sky’, is associated with Alto Cumulus clouds while ‘mare’s tails’ refer to Cirrus Clouds – either of these can appear before a storm hence the ship will lower their sails)
Alto Cumulus /Cirrus Clouds
  • When the stars begin to huddle, the earth will soon become a puddle
  • Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning
  • When the wind is out of the East, tis never good for man nor beast – love this saying. (Wind from a North- Easterly direction is the Polar Continental; record low temperatures can affect Britain with bitterly cold winds in winter and dry, warm winds in summer)

Of course one of my most favourite ‘Old Wives’ weather tales come from my Nan which is that cows lie down when it is about to rain Scientists have now proven that there is a direct link between a cows behaviour and the weather. When cows detect the arrival of colder weather it makes them lie down to conserve heat, and energy.

So the Old Wives  were right all along – cows can predict the weather !

Weather gauge: Cows are more likely to lie down when it is cold, the study show. Credit: Daily Mail