50 Old Time Weather Proverbs & Signs

After years of experience I can usually predict rain just by walking on the morning grass, watching the behavior of my cats, sheep, cows, pigs or chickens or opening my dresser drawer.
What follows below is a list of my 50 favorite weather folk sayings.

And like most folk proverbs you’ll find more times than not they have real merit and value. In fact for the most part, I’ve found the weather wisdom below to be more accurate than a meteorologist using computer models or satellite imagery.

Amish Weather Vane

Amish Weather Vane

    1. Hornets’ nest built in the top of trees indicate a mild winter is ahead; nests built close to the ground indicate that a harsh winter is coming.
    2. The higher the clouds the better the weather.
    3. If the cat washes her face over her ear, the weather is sure to be fine and clear.
    4. Clear moon, frost soon.
    5. When leaves fall early, autumn and winter will be mild; when leaves fall later, winter will be severe.
    6. If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.
    7. When ants travel in a straight line expect rain; when they are scattered, expect fair weather.
    8. If the first snow falls on unfrozen ground expect a mild winter.
    9. If bees stay at home rain will soon come; if they fly away, fine will be the day.
    10. A year of snow, a year of plenty.
    11. Dust rising in dry weather is a sign of approaching change.
    12. Rainbow at noon, more rain soon.
    13. Flowers blooming in late autumn are a sign of a bad winter.
    14. If cows lie down and refuse to go to pasture, you can expect a storm to blow up soon.
    15. The darker the woolly caterpillar’s coat, the more severe the winter will be. If there is a dark stripe at the head and one at the end, the winter will be severe at the beginning, become mild, and then get worse just before spring.
    16. When grass is dry at morning light look for rain before the night.
    17. If sheep ascend hills and scatter, expect clear weather.
    18. A warm November is the sign of a bad winter.
    19. When the chairs squeak, it’s of rain they speak.
    20. When clouds appear like rocks and towers, the earth will be washed by frequent showers.
    21. If birds fly low, then rain we shall know.
    22. Evening red and morning grey are two sure signs of one fine day.
    23. The first and last frosts are the worst.
    24. The winds of the daytime wrestle and fight longer and stronger than those of the night.
    25. When down the chimney falls the soot, mud will soon be underfoot.
    26. Rain before seven, fine before eleven.
    27. No weather is ill, if the wind be still.
    28. Cold is the night when the stars shine bright.
    29. When a rooster crows at night there will be rain by morning.
    30. Dandelion blossoms close before there will be a rain.
    31. When clouds look like black smoke a wise man will put on his cloak.
    32. A cow with its tail to the West makes the weather best; a cow with its tail to the East makes the weather least.
    33. The moon and the weather may change together, but a change of the moon will not change the weather.
    34. The sudden storm lasts not three hours.
    35. Chimney smoke descends, our nice weather ends.
    36. A rainbow in the morning is the shepherd’s warning. A rainbow at night is the shepherd’s delight.
    37. Three days rain will empty any sky.
    38. When smoke hovers close to the ground there will be a weather change.
    39. A ring around the sun or moon means rain or snow coming soon.
    40. Bees will not swarm before a storm.
    41. The more cloud types present the greater the chance of rain or snow.
    42. Catchy drawer and sticky door, coming rain will pour and pour.
    43. When the wind blows from the west, fish bite best. When it blows from the east, fish bite least.
    44. When leaves show their undersides, be very sure that rain betides.
    45. Birds on a telephone wire predict the coming of rain.
    46. When the ditch and pond offend the nose, then look out for rain and stormy blows.
    47. Pigs gather leaves and straw before a storm.
    48. Trout jump high, when a rain is nigh.
    49. Red sky at morning, sailor take warning; red sky at night, a sailor’s delight.
    50. When the night goes to bed with a fever, it will awake with a wet head.

Katherine Grossman

Katherine Grossman was born and raised in the greater Washington, D.C area. But for the last 30 years Mrs. Grossman has lived a life of deliberate self-reliance in rural western Pennsylvania. She loves to garden, knit mittens; makes a killer meatloaf and has been known to deliver triplet lambs with her eyes closed. 


  8 comments for “50 Old Time Weather Proverbs & Signs

  1. February 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    These are great! I’ve always been fascinated by weather, especially the old time predictors.

    Just to add to #26…I had heard the rhyme, “Rain before 7 stops by 11. Rain after 8 stays late.” Like so many of your Top 50, it rings true.

    Thanks for posting these.

  2. KMG
    February 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Linda –
    Thanks. I hadn’t heard the rest of that rhyme. It’s true.
    If it’s raining steady at 7:30 or 8:00 am – you can pretty much bet it will rain all day.

  3. February 4, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    These are great. Thanks for sharing them with us. :o)

  4. February 6, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Most of these words of weather wisdom are new to me. I think that I’ll print them out and hang them by the back door! What a great post, thanks!

  5. May 8, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Hello! I’ve been reading your weblog for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead
    and give you a shout out from New Caney Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent work!

    • Katherine Grossman
      May 8, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you! :-)

  6. Jo
    July 25, 2015 at 10:59 am

    do you know of the old saying about the first time you hear a cricket means fall will come in X weeks. My parents use to say that but I can’t remember how many weeks. This was my first time on your website and it’s very interesting. Thank you.

    • Katherine Grossman
      July 25, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      The first frost comes 90 days after katydids (crickets) begin to sing :-)

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