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Weather Folklore Lesson - Grade 4
Transcript of Weather Folklore Lesson - Grade 4
Predict the Weather...
Are Some Weather
Sometimes these old sayings about the weather were based on superstition...
Other times they were based on facts; facts that have since been proven scientifically.
A Long Time Ago...
Our ancestors didn't have television, meteorologists, satellites or other weather instruments so instead they had to rely on signs from nature and observations. Some weather folklore predictions are highly accurate, while others are just for fun.
Let's see if we can figure out which folklore sayings and rhymes make accurate weather predictors...
It is bad luck to
point at a rainbow.
Weather Folklore: Fact or Fiction?
This is a NY state saying that comes from Native Americans. The story says that if you point at a rainbow and the storm god disapproves of you, the rainbow will disappear, but so will you!
When Squirrels lay in a big store of nuts, look for a hard winter.
Squirrels just do the best they can when collecting food and some nut seasons are better than others.
(Sloane, p. 58)
A west wind is a favorable wind.
This is the wind that follows all storms. These westerly winds are known as fair-weather winds.
(Sloane, p. 62-63)
The higher the clouds, the better the weather.
Higher clouds indicate both dryness of air and higher atmospheric pressure, which are qualities of fair weather.
(Sloane, p. 34)
Geese (and other migrating birds) fly higher in fair weather than in foul.
Pressure in the air lowers as you rise and the higher you go, the less pressure you will find. When these birds migrate they seek height to make use of lofty winds. The highest they can go increases in good-weather, high-pressure air and is lowered in low-pressure, stormy air.
(Sloane, p. 32)
"Crows on a fence,
Rain will come down;
Rain will go hence
When crow's on the ground"
(Davis, p. 40)
Not a reliable weather forecaster. Crows are ground feeders and likely to find an abundance of food after rain since rainwater forces many insects and worms out of the ground
"I know ladies by the score
Whose hair foretells the storm;
Long before it begins to pour
Their curls take a drooping form"
(Davis, p. 48)
Human hair is very sensitive to humidity in the air. Curly hair becomes more curly, and straight hair that has been curled becomes straight again. Strands of human hair are often used in hygrometers (devices that measure humidity). This is a reliable indicator of weather change.
"When chairs squeak,
It's about to rain they speak"
(Davis, p. 49)
This is a reliable indicator of changing weather conditions. Wooden chairs give up some of their moisture during dry weather, but as rain approaches and the air becomes humid, the wood absorbs the moisture from the air, which causes the chairs to expand and squeak.
The hooting of an owl
Says the weather will be foul.
(Davis, p. 34
Birds feel small changes in the air and temperature. Before a storm there is low pressure and humidity which may make owls uncomfortable, more active, or cause them to hoot more. This is a good weather indicator
"When you see a beaver
Carrying sticks in its mouth,
It will be a hard winter--
You'd better go south"
(Davis, p. 40)
This idea comes from the Native Americans who believed that beavers carried sticks to build better homes before a harsh winter arrived, but this is not a reliable weather indicator.
When the cow scratches her ear
It means a shower is near;
But when she thumps her ribs with her tail
Expect thunder, lightening, and hail.
However, this is only a fair predictor of weather. The hairs inside a cow's ear respond to the changes that come before rain (low atmospheric pressure and increased humidity) and may make her scratch. Before a violent thunderstorm, a cow may continuously brush herself with her tail to relieve discomfort as static charges of electricity may cause a cow's hair to stand out.
(Davis, p. 14-15)