Many of our daily conversations begin by discussing the weather, since it affects us all and so much of our schedule and activities depend upon it. Nowadays, we usually feel fairly confident that we know the upcoming weather based on the forecasts provided by local TV stations and internet sources. And these sources use the latest and greatest technological equipment, research and predictions formulated over several decades of conditions and outcomes.

But back in simpler times — before technology, before centuries of records, before TV, maybe even before almanacs (in the 1700s, which predicted weather based on tides, astronomical events, etc.) — there wasn’t much to help with forecasting the weather. So were people back then able to know or predict weather?

I think this is where nature came in. There have been many studies done on animals, nature, and atmospheric conditions in attempts to try and qualify all of the sayings, maxims and proverbs regarding weather predictions. Some of them are really interesting, so I wanted to share just a few with you.

“When sheep gather in a huddle, tomorrow will have a puddle.”

“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky in morning, sailor take warning.”

“When they swarm, expect a day that’s warm.” (Ladybugs)

An old adage: “Wind from the south brings rain in its mouth.”

It is thought that frogs will croak louder and longer than usual if bad weather is approaching.

A hazy ring around the sun or moon in summer can be a sign of rain coming.

“If you count the number of times a cricket chirps in 14 seconds, then add 40, you can get a close estimate of the air temperature in Fahrenheit.”

Supposedly, when locusts sing, it means dry weather is coming.

Many animals have been known to predict weather conditions, such as a change in the barometric pressure and earthquakes, by changing their behaviors, becoming anxious, dogs increase their barking, herding animals move to a protected area, etc.

Flowers, such as morning glories and 4-o’clocks won’t open their petals when it’s going to rain. Other flowers, including dandelions, tulips, chickweed, wild indigo, and clovers, will close their blossoms before rain.

Corn husks will be thicker before a hard winter and a larger than usual crop of acorns indicates a hard winter.

Finally, the more brown segments there are on a woolly bear caterpillar, the milder the coming winter will be. More black means a rough winter.

I love imagining the ones who sat outside, in the quiet, no cellphones or video games to interrupt, as they watched nature intently, verbally telling or journaling what they observed, and then spreading their findings to others to confirm their conclusions about the weather. Fascinating to think about, isn’t it?

Darla Horner Menking is an outdoor enthusiast and Herald correspondent. Contact her at

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