Jun 5, 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Several conversations with co-workers and neighbors lately have led them to think I studied meteorology in college, but I didn't. I learned from my grandfather some common sense things that "predict" rain. He passed on to me what he learned because I grew up hunting, camping, and working outside a lot. The key point is that you have to look around at the big picture. Look at the sky, trees, and watch nature's animals...they will all indicate that something is "in the air" and coming your way. So, I thought I'd share some things that I've been working with my son on understanding. I would be remiss as a father if I didn't pass on to him some very basic concepts about life and what happens all around you.

In looking at the sky, here are a couple of points to look for, and some of the analogies that still apply:
Rain on the horizon...
  • Thin and wispy clouds, up where the planes fly, mean it will be dry.
  • Flat bottomed and rounded top clouds in the morning or early afternoon hint at wetness in your near future.
  • When the clouds are growing like the cauliflower in your garden, you will be steamed before they are. Meaning that something is going on inside the clouds that will impact you. Especially if they go grey.
  • Spying a rainbow in the morning may lead you to the gold, but you will be wet when you find it. Because, a rainbow in the morning means that the storm is west of us, and most storms in the U.S. move from the west to the east.
  • If the moon is engaged, so will be you. Meaning that if there is a ring around the moon, the fronts are shifting and reflecting light differently due to the moisture content of the air.
  • Red at night, sailor's delight...red in the morning, sailor's warning. Since storms tend to travel from the west to east, a red sky at night indicates that fair weather is heading our way, in the morning, it indicates that dry air has already passed over and wetness may be on the way.
Okay, so now you have looked up at the clouds that bring the rain. NOW look around at a tree. We hate when they turn brown and fall on the lawn to rake up, but from the spring through summer, they are better indicators than the local news to SHOW us the weather. There is only one phrase that my grandfather passed on that can be shared about the leaves of a maple, poplar or other deciduous tree/shrub:
Leaf showing her bloomer...
  • When they show their bloomers, expect them to be washed. Meaning, the leaves are all "dancing in the wind," to show the lighter colored bottom side, they are reacting to the barometric pressure and temperature are acting, which means different weather fronts are impacting each other. When that happens, rain is on the way. This is one of the KEY indicators if you don't happen to look up or around. Leaves are a huge sign about what is going on around you. Open your eyes.
You've looked up and maybe glanced around. But have you SEEN the animals around you? Here are some things you can observe by watching how they interact with the senses they have:
  • If dogs eat grass, cats purr & wash their paws, they are preparing for rain.
  • When sheep and cows herd up and turn their noses into the wind, they can smell it coming.
  • If a bull leads the cows to fields, it will be dry, when the cows coax the bull, he needs teased.
  • Cows laying in a field says they want dry bellies because a shower is coming.
  • Bats flying overhead in the evening means that they can fly all night in a dry sky.
  • When a horse sniffs the air and shudders, water will come from above.
  • Wolves always howl more before a storm.
Bottom line, pay attention to what nature shows you. It indicates what is coming better than sonar, radar, storm watch, etc. You never know when you might need to be in touch with the earth, regardless of what you are doing....
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