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Signs of Rain

Up to the early 19th-century most Americans lived in rural settings. For them, changes in nature and even animal behavior served as weather predictors. What natural signs have you noticed before rain approaches? I’ve noticed that flies cling to the window screens before rain. Flies and horseflies are more bothersome just before it rains. Also, frogs croak louder just before rain. My husband’s grandparents, who were farmers, taught him to notice the weeping willow tree. When the under side of the leaves turned upward, it was going to rain.

Using nature to predict upcoming weather goes back further than early American farming. The oldest record I have a copy of dates back to 58 — 63 A.D. and is found in Luke 12:54-55 of the Bible. It reads, “…When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.” An even earlier recording is found in Matthew 16: 2-3, which reads, “…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 lowring.” Thus came the adage, “red sky at night, sailors’ delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”

People suffering with rheumatism or previous broken bones often feel pain or greater discomfort prior to rain. Fish are said to bite more at the water’s surface when rain is coming. A halo around the sun or moon is said to indicate rain, snow or hail, depending on the season. What signs of rain have you noticed in nature?

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  • David says:

    Out here in Kansas if you see a bullsnake cross a road it will rain most of the time.

  • If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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