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HISTORIC PATHWAYS: Weather forecasting made easy

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By Tom Watson

Meteorology is an interesting and challenging profession, but predicting changes in the weather can also be accomplished on the farm or in the front yard. Most people have heard about the woolly worm and how dark stripes mean a hard winter ahead, but light stripes predict the opposite.That solid black one I saw in the fall was right on the money. There are other natural indicators, too.
Take, for instance, these tips taken from various sources:
“Thunder at morn, wind is born; Thunder at noon, rain comes soon; Thunder at eve, a tempest will weave; Thunder in spring, cold will bring.”
It is said the Silver Maple shows the lining of its leaf before a storm, Cottonwood and Quaking Aspin trees turn up their leaves before rain and corn fodder will be damp and limp before the first drops fall. Milkweed closes at night before a rain.
When a dog eats grass it’s going to rain, swallows and bats fly close to the ground before a rain and flies bite more before it begins to rain.
Also, “When grass is dry at morning light, look for rain before the night.”
Folklore also tells us that if cows lie down as soon as they are put out to pasture, you can count on it raining soon and when their tails are pointing toward the west, there’s weather coming.
“Bees will not swarm before a storm,” and when ants travel in a straight line, expect rain.
Other tips include:
If the moon rises pale, expect rain. If it rises clear, expect fair. “Pale moon doth rain, red moon doth blow, white moon doth neither rain nor snow.”
You also need to watch where you’re walking, lest you cause a change in the weather.
If you kill a beetle or step on an ant, it will rain. If you want to bring rain, kill a snake and turn its belly toward the sky.
How do you tell if it’s going to rain before you step out the door? Just look in the mirror and if your hair is limp, it’s going to rain. Or as the American Indians used to say: “When locks turn damp in the scalp house, it will rain on the morrow.”
Other indicators of rain on the way include:
Aching corns or aching teeth.
And for the ministers:
“If it rains while the sun shines, the devil is beating his wife.”
From Matthew 16, versus 2-3: “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.”
Finally, the expression “raining cats and dogs” is of German origin and is based on: “It is raining to keep in the cats and bring out the ducks.”
Somebody thought they were saying: “It is raining cats and dogs.”