A Lesson for Kids on Predicting Weather Through Weather Folklore
A Children's Guide to Predicting Weather Through Weather Signs and Sayings
The Folklore of Weather
In our modern world, we rely on scientists who specialize in reading expensive and technical weather devices to let us know what to expect from the natural world around us. These Meteorologists, or weather scientists, use Doppler radar, weather balloons, satellites, and weather-smart computers to give fairly accurate predictions of what the weather will be like for the day. But, what did we do before all of this super technical equipment became the standard for weather predictions? Who was talking to Mother Nature when computers weren't around? Follow along while we take a look at the folklore of weather signs and sayings to see just how great our ancestors could read Mother Nature before the technical stuff was created.
Weather Handed Down Through the Generations
Generations ago, people would pass down what they knew about the signs of weather by using rhymes and sayings. These rhythmic poems would teach their children a purely "natural way to read the weather." As it turns out, those weather poems and sayings were based on the observations and wisdom of sailors, farmers, and other outdoors-people who used their experiences, which also had grounds in true weather science.
So, if you're out camping, or hiking, or traveling on foot in nature, far away from all the scientific weather technology and computers, you can use some of that "weather know-how" to help you make some fairly reliable predictions about the weather. Here are some really familiar weather rhymes that have been handed down through the generations, but also have been founded in good old fashioned weather science:
Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning.
Weather and the Rainbow
Every time you see a rainbow, it is going to be located in the sky opposite from where the sun is.
Because most weather systems move from the west to the east, the rainbow found in the western sky (which would occur in the morning), is telling you that rain is on its way—it's giving you "fair warning" about the rainstorm that usually follows. (This means that a rainbow in the eastern sky, tells you that the rain has already been-and-gone.)
A double rainbow can excite the soul...
Clear moon, frost soon.
Weather and the Moon
Whenever the moon is found in a clear, cloudless sky, the folklore says that frost is on its way. The natural weather science behind this saying explains that in a clear atmosphere, with no clouds to keep the heat on earth from rising into space, a low-temperature night without any wind helps frost to form. When the clouds come back and cover the sky, it's like putting a blanket above the earth, which keeps all of the sun's heat nearer to earth during the daytime.
This cloud blanket makes the earth's surface just warm enough to keep the frost from forming.
A year of snow, a year of plenty.
Weather and the Snow
This one may seem like it doesn't make much sense, or even any sense, but it's true. A season of continuous snow is better for the farmers crops, farmland, and trees than a season of weather that switches back-and-forth from warm to cold. When there's snow all through the the winter, it stops or slows down the trees from blossoming until the cold part of the season is completely over. New blooms won't be strong enough to take the cold and will freeze off of the plant and die. Plants will blossom if a short warm spell causes them to think the cold weather is over before the snowy season has truly ended. This means alternating thawing and freezing that can come with less stable winter weather destroys the fruit-bearing trees and the much needed winter grain fields.
Ring around the moon, rain or snow soon.
Weather and Moon Rings
Have you ever looked up at night and noticed a halo or ring that looks like it's been placed around the moon? That halo, which can also form around the sun (just harder to see and dangerous to look at), is a layer of cirrus clouds that has been made from ice crystals that reflect the moon's light like prisms. This layer of clouds are not snow or rain-producing clouds. But, they sometimes show up when a warm front and low pressure area approaches, which can mean that bad weather is coming. The brighter the ring, the bigger the chance for rain or snow.
Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailor's warning.
Weather and Red Skies
The many colors of the sky are made when rays of sunlight that get split into colors of the spectrum as they bounce off water vapor and dust particles in our atmosphere (sky). When the sky is filled with a whole lot of dust and moisture, the sunlight coming through it makes the sky look reddish in color. This high concentration of particles usually means that high pressure and stable air are coming from the west. Since weather systems usually move from west to east, that means you will have good weather for the night. When the sun rises in the eastern sky looking all red and angry, that indicates a high water and dust content in the sky. This basically means that a storm system may be moving in your direction. So if you notice a red sky in the morning, you should probably zip-up your tent, and put on your waterproof hiking boots!
Weather Quiz - How much did you learn about Weather Folklore?
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A Weather Project for Kids
How to Complete the Weather Project for Kids Below
Learning to understand the weather and how to predict it from the way the sky looks is a great way to stay prepared when camping, hiking, or being outdoors in general. Observe your world and find the many ways to know if you will need to wear a rain jacket, or if shorts will be just fine!
Here's what you do:
- Print out the colorful sheet below
- Fill in today's date and the day of the week
- Look to see what the weather is doing right now, and write it down under "weather."
- Check an outdoors thermometer to see what the hottest temperature of the day is, and then what the coolest temperature of the day is, write the information under "temperature - low and high."
- Make a note if it is raining under the section that is titled "rain fall."
- What time did the sun rise?
- What time did the sun set?
- Complete this information for the entire 15 days.
- Discuss what you noticed about the natural weather activity and how it was the same or different from the weather the scientist predicted.
- Talk about how you learned to predict the natural weather conditions by using the folklore and personal observations within this lesson.
Concluding this Children's Weather Guide
When you set out to hike or camp remember to check the weather so you have a good idea how to properly prepare. But in those instances where the weather channel has made a miscalculation, you may just find the correct answer to your weather questions among the pretty reliable weather folklore passed down through the generations. What we didn't know about our skies then, may not be much less than what we know today. So be safe and check the weather channel for their weather predictions, but keep your eyes and instincts alert. You never know when a ring around the moon can change your outdoor plans. By simply paying attention to the clues of natural weather predicting, you can always be ready for whatever Mother Nature tosses your way.