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Weather Forecasting Folklore

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

I was trying to decide where to start this thread. Obviously, the Weather Forum was the first thought, followed by maybe the Farm Forum. In the end, I settled on the Homesteading Forum, since we are kinda an offbeat bunch and this is something I imagine many of us try to do. :)

What kind of "signs" come to mind in forecasting the weather? Maybe based on animal behavior? I vaguely remember hearing many years ago, that the way cattle act in the pasture, is an indicator. Maybe atmospherically? "Red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky at morning, sailors take warning"....meaning a storm's a brewing?

I watched the woolly worms this fall and found most of mine had really wide brown stripes around their middle here in South Central KY. More info at


Hill Country, TX(Zone 8a)

Ants building their mounds high=rain.

Hill Country, TX(Zone 8a)

Shaggy horses= hard winter ahead.
Robin...thanks for this thread.....I can't wait to see what others post.

Richmond, TX

Dogs beating down the front door: thunderstorm (I won't hear the thunder for another half-hour.)

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Thanks for joining in. Yep, thought it would be fun. And it's something we can pass on to kids and grandkids. I forgot to include in my first post, that my woolly worms indicate I'll have a mild winter.

Caliche, I don't have ants up here like you, but that's interesting. Makes sense with the shaggy horses.

Porkpal....too funny! But seems to me I also heard/read somewhere that animals know ahead of time of bad weather coming in.

I have a major problem with moles here and had read that they hibernate. However, there are new tunnels showing up every day. Maybe another indication of a mild winter? I can only dream. LOL!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

In this area, how high the hornets nests are built indicates how much moisture to expect.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Cool! Thanks, Pod.

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)

If the horses starting running in a circle in the field being very noisy, acting very upset and its also a stormy night (of course) get under ground... a tornado's on the way.

also when there is a tornado coming chickens will flatten to the ground so flat you can barely see them.

Cows will line up along a fence when its going to lightening.

Whatever day of the month is snows on (like the 24th of Dec here) you will get that many inches of snow, that many days of snow or that many snow storms.
(need to edit on the other thread... forgot about the number of day's part!)

I've seen all of these work at some point in my life.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Greykyttyn, thanks for joining us!

Anza, CA(Zone 8b)

Worms can sense a change in the barometer, and try to head for higher ground, to avoid drowning.

Richmond, TX

Many of our farm animals seem to get restless when the barometer is falling.

Hill Country, TX(Zone 8a)

I think animals can detect an earthquake long before we do.
When we were young we lived in Huntington Beach California, and had a dog and cat who hated each other. The dog harassed the cat, endlessly.
One day I looked out the patio door and saw them lying close together but very alert, in the very middle of the back yard. Thinking it very strange, I watched them, and shortly was knocked off my feet by a strong earthquake. Everything was falling off shelves and knocked over out in the yard. These two 'enemies' just stuck it out where it was safe.
After the earth settled down to aftershocks, the pet war resumed like nothing had happened. LOL

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Lots of cool info. Thanks!

Don't cattle tend to huddle up when a storm is approaching?

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)

I forgot two more i know..

Turtles (land version, think box turtle, can't spell what they are really called) will be seen moving to higher ground a couple days before you are going to get lots of rain.

those black wooly worms.. if you get bunches of them they are good indicators of very bad winter to come.

ur welcome msrobin..

not so much a folkstale/wives tale because it just my cats that did this that I know of. May 8th of this year our town was hit with what they call a type of inland hurricane. 100 mph winds. It was awful. it hit at 7:03 am that morning. at 6 am my cats got on the bed & started making noise, bothering me & such. I ignored it & rolled over to go back to sleep, they kept it up & I rolled back putting a pillow on my head. I was not getting up yet. This was the morning of my nephews funeral & I was not prepared for this morning at all. I just growled at them & stuffed my head further under the pillow. Katie, one of my cats, burrowed under my pillow, stood up & pushed it off of me. Twitch, my other cat took her place real quick & started slapping my face with her little paws (thankfully she's declawed), when i just tried to roll away they both started slapping at me & butting their heads into my head. Sassy my other cat was in my mom's room fussing at her & my dog was whining. Mom finally gave up & got up, Sassy left her & went down stairs moaning, whining, crying trying to make mom follow her. My feet hit the floor 3 minutes later & I started for the stairs grumbling at them, they got in front of me trying to get me to follow faster, like they were impatient to eat. 30 seconds after my feet hit the floor the hit the side of the house so hard my bed moved a few inches from the wall. The cats hit the floor running & went to the basement. The dog had all her hair standing on end. It was scary. Never seen wind like that in my life. Trees were nearly doubling over it was blowing so hard. Its the first time in my life I was afraid to be near a window to watch. The wind was coming west to east so we got on the east side of the house & stayed. Mom in the stairwell & I stood in the middle of the living room watching for trees that might land on the neighbors house. (i'd promised the people living in two different houses I'd come for them if a tree trapped them) Most of our town & the surrounding towns were without electricity for near 2 weeks.

the animals knew this was bad. They knew it was coming. Our weather people didn't even see it coming till it hit us. it lasted 30 minutes. longest 30 minutes of our lives. It was worse than a tornado. i do not ignore the cats anymore when they fuss like that. I get mom up & send her to the basement immediately .

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Another great story about animal instincts!

When I first moved out here in the country, I was kind of nervous about bad weather possibly moving in and not having any warning. We live on an open hilltop, don't have a basement, couldn't get a local tv station tuned in for weather info and there had recently been a couple of mild earthquakes. These kind of animal signals could be life savers.

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)

our "basement" is only the lower level with a 4 ft concrete wall on one side. It was suppose to be a garage but the family before us turned it into a bedroom & family room. I'd give anything for a concrete capped ICF room attached to the house. big enough for all my cats & the dogs.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Forgot to say, we also live in a mobile home.

DH says he'll put a big root cellar in for me....but that follows the much needed room addition...and the roof over the front deck so we have some shade out here. But I do have a 30' deep gulley that I can hunker down in. LOL!

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)

get a weather radio.. :)

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

I did

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)

does it work? We have steel siding & they won't work in here. I just pray my internet stays on so i can check weather. and we have a good radio station that has only went off air I think twice due to weather in 6 yrs.

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)

I thought of another one when i looked out my window this morning. For the last 2 days the snow birds have been flocking. This morning.. we have snow! Mom always said when i was a kid, watch for the snow birds, when they show up, you're snow is on its way. You rarely see them till its about to snow then they show up in huge amounts. i counted 23 this morning at the feeders.

Lubbock, TX(Zone 7a)

birds fly lower just before a storm....

really cool thread, glad to have stumbled upon it somehow

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Sunshines2day, glad you joined us.

Are these the same birds that kind of fly in swarms, land in large flocks on an open field and then will also congregate in the top of the bare trees, chattering away? Seeing a lot of this lately. Kind of reminds me of Hitchcock's "The Birds".

This message was edited Jan 4, 2010 8:07 AM

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Here's another one from,0/3__Folklore_Weather_Forecasting/-_Plants_and_animals_3sn.html

Cow - A cow with its tail to the west, makes weather the best; A cow with its tail to the east, makes weather the least.

This New England saying from the USA has much truth in it. The natural instinct of animals is to graze with their tails into the wind. If a predator tries to attack from behind, the wind blows their scent to the animal in danger. In the northern hemisphere, east winds often bring rain and west winds often bring fair weather so the grazing animal's tail becomes a weather sign.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Interesting and logical on the cow butts.

One saying that I read on the C&S forum and had never heard before but it stands true.
"As the day lengthens, the cold strengthens".

... and we are there ~ Brrrr!

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)

hmm.. East..

A storm from the East is fit for neither man nor beast.

Lubbock, TX(Zone 7a)


...just the normals birds you see and/or hear around your property.

...another: seeing the undersides of leaves on trees means it will rain.

Anyone ever notice how people seem to drive crazy just before a giant thunderstorm? Do you think they're all trying to simply seek shelter?

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)

wow someone else knows the tree leaf thing! Grandpa always told me to watch the silver maples.. when the leaves were belly up, rain was on the way

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

I thought that was pretty interesting about the cows, too.

This came from the following site:

If that darn rooster insists on crowing just after the sun goes down... you can expect rain. Lots of folklore ways to predict weather, but a lot of them you have to pay attention to signs weeks earlier.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

I just read about the leaf thing recently.

My neighbor cows were confused today....some tails toward the east and some toward the west. LOL!

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Two more observations from the farmer's Almanac newsletter...Always expect a thaw in January. Fog in January brings a wet spring.

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)

Lighting & thunder in December will bring bad storms in May.

:) sorry can't ever remember them all at once.. My grandpa had lots of them he used.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Here it is lightening in January will correlate with frosts in April and it is usually correct within a day or two.

Richmond, TX

My Grandfather said if you killed a snake and hung it on the fence it would bring rain.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)


Colmesneil, TX(Zone 8b)

Pod, if your correct about the frosts in April I guess we can look forward to eating Peruvian peaches that year. lol Haven't seen any lighting yet this month but Thursday afternoon will be the next chance for it I think.

Hill Country, TX(Zone 8a)

I remember this tidbit from my Grandpa. Ring around the moon forecasts coming bad weather, and the number of stars within the ring indicate the number of days before the bad weather.

Lubbock, TX(Zone 7a)


...recently watching a special on the Dust Bowl, I remember seeing the photos of headless snakes hanging on the fences and signposts


...I've heard about the ring around the moon, the stars within is new to me though


...did I already mention I LOVE this tread

Eveyone... please keep them comin'

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

I'm glad everyone is enjoying this!

Greykyttyn, going to put the snow fall theory to the test. First snow for us today...7 inches, 7 days of snow or 7 snow storms.

BTW, first time the neighbor cows have been clustered together since moving in a couple of months ago. Bad storm moving in? Weather forecasters say just 1"-2".

Caliche, cool...we've had 2 rings in the past month or 6 weeks. Will have to count the stars next time.

Porkpal, interesting about the snakes.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Our weather, rain included, tends to come from the west or the north, so I guess that ol' saw changes depending on which side of the Appalachians you're on?

Buffalo run with the wind... which made for some interesting times trying to get the shots of stampeding buffalo in 'Dances with Wolves'. Apparently the director had the animal handlers try to drive the herd into the wind several times, so the dust would not obscure the shot... and several times the buffalo herd turned and ran over the pickup trucks the handlers were driving to chase the herd. You'll notice the humans finally gave up and let the buffalo go in the direction they wanted....

My dogs start trying to bang the back door down if there's a storm coming.... though the storms seem to be getting smaller... it's getting to where if the sun ducks behind a cloud anymore they start in. Wimps. =0)

Red sky at morning... probably means you're in the southwest somewhere. Red sky at night... probably means you're in the southwest somewhere. LOL

The donks start braying for dinner early if a storm is moving in that's going to hit at their usual feeding time. They're a bit more accurate than my wussy dogs.

I think there's a bunch that I take note of, but can't bring up into consciousness... I just respond appropriately when I see the critters acting a peculiar way.

Ah... the crows come down out of the mountains before a big storm.

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