Monday, November 1, 2010

November. Weather forecasting.

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease
No comfortable feel in any member
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds

Thomas Hood.

Welcome to the month of November.

Autumn can be a miserable auld month as the above poem suggests. This gives rise to many old wives tales concerning the weather. The animals seem to know when it will be a hard winter.

‘When birds and badgers are fat in October, expect a cold winter’

However, if snow and ice arrive in early November then it will be a mild winter.

‘If there’s ice in November that will bear a duck, there’ll be nothing after but sludge and muck’

Mist or fog on the other hand early on an autumn morning means fine weather for the rest of the day.

A fine autumn morning is the perfect time to go looking for spiders webs as dew will form along the individual strands. If you see the sun shining through it then it will seem as though it is made of silver lace. Truly magical.

Cows will lie down if they sense a change in weather, while sheep get friskier or turn their backs to the wind.

The colour of the moon is said to be an indicator of weather. A pale moon means rain or snow, a red or orange moon means stormy weather and a strong white moon means fine weather, especially in winter because a strong moon means clear skies which mean fine weather at this time of year.

The direction of the wind is also an indicator of weather. Wet from the west, warm from the south, cold from the east and dry from the north.
‘The south wind always brings wet weather.
The north wind wet and cold together
The west wind always brings us rain
The east wind blows it back again’.

Listen out for the song of the Mistle Thrush (a loud repetitive song delivered from the top of a tall tree) as this means stormy weather is on the way. This bird used to be known as the ‘Stormcock’.

Today we know if seagulls come into land then bad weather is approaching.
‘Seagull, seagull sitting on the strand, there’s an end to fair weather when you come in to land’.

Swallows often fly lower to catch insects which in turn have moved lower when rain and windy weather is approaching. Consequently Swallows fly higher as a sign of sunshine to come.

‘When the Swallows fly high, the weather will be dry’.

A low flying ‘V’ formation of Geese is a sure sign of rain. This is borne out by the fact the birds fly beneath low rain-bearing cloud.

A dry Springtime was anticipated if frog spawn was seen in the centre of a pond, which is normally the deepest part. As water levels decreased, the spawn in the middle had a better chance of survival.

The activity of hens, particularly on a wet morning, was also closely scrutinised. If the hens sheltered from the rain, then the weather was expected to improve later in the day. But if the hens were seen pecking and scraping for food on a wet morning, it was assumed that there was little hope of any improvement in the weather for the remainder of that day.

One of our local sayings here in Westport:

If you can't see the Reek then its raining, but if you can see the Reek that means its going to rain.

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