Collected by Richard Inwards. …

Richard Inwards was a British Meteorologist in the good old days. As an hobby he collected weather proverbs and sayings. They aught to be cross referenced internet web page style. And maybe I shall get around to it one day.

I don’t have the patience to correct all that he set out. But modern folklore would do it the world of good. His book is much of a jumble and an hodgepodge. I will repeat what is necessary to know for anyone who wishes to find out about the weather. The book is a fairly good place for any beginner to start.

Please bear in mind that when he collected the sayings, he wasn't aware of meteorological features that we take for granted these days. And the the people who were profound enough to invent them did not have access to national data except at the prices set at the corn exchanges and meat markets of the towns and villages.

(In actual fact, folk lore is still widely practiced in the Meteorological Office and all such centres around the world where penny pinching has not stopped expert correction of silly computer runs.)


The first chapter contain this phrase that needs to be learned: ”Be it fair or wet, the weather will always pay its debt.”
The saying is true in every respect, both locally and internationally:

When we in Britain suffer severe cold and rain, the length of the spell is matched in California and parts of New South Wales by severe drought.

And when we get relief, they get forest fires.

And added to that, when a series of similar or "like" spells ends, they do so with a severity that brings damaging weather of the alternative kind whatever that might be, along with (in other parts of the world) severe earthquakes or some related phenomenon.

So that covers the saying: ”Be it fair or wet, the weather will always pay its debt.” One more point, the locatioon of the earthquake to which the change in the weather is related will be about 80 degrees from the region where the "Low Pressure Area goes ashore".

("Lows" build up in a process called "convergence" over shallow seas. Overland they tend to filter out as one wave of pressure after another takes a different heading. The separartion is called divergence.

The actual process is a relative of sonics and is more in keeping with the process that produces vortices in kitchen sinks and ocean gyres. So long as it isn't pouring down-stream the current formed by a falling inlet will tend to capture flotsam and return it through the gyre indefinitely.

So it is with the thousands of feet of air that make up the lower atmosphere. If all the layers are still and calm, logic dictates that the upper colder air devoid of moisture and thus much heavier than lower layers, will fall through the column (known as a "thermocline")

This is the force of hurricanes and why the wrm centres are wrpped up and confined. Newton's laws are quite specific on that matter.)


10 thoughts on “Weatherlore.

  1. OK. Now you have started your initiation into the boundaries of the known geo-physical sciences. The first chapter in the book concludes with a couple of dubious suppositions and sayings:“Weather works on all in different degrees but most on those who are disposed to melancholy. The devil himself seems to take the opportunity of foul and tempestuous weather to agitate our spirits and vex our souls. For, as the sea waves, so are the spirits and humours in our bodies tossed with tempestuous winds and storms.”This is attributed to someone called Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy. (Chapter 3.)The fact of the matter is that the people most in accord with suuch adverse reactions to weather are generally those already ill. People subject to gout, leg cramps and arthritic illnesses, are indeed able to “feel the weather”. I speak as one who suffers with such a gift, for I get leg cramps whose duration and intensity is mirrored in the USA by tornadic activity. I get mind blanks or “senior moments” when the weather is clammy, hot and overcast, just such weather as is considered to accompany tornadoes.In Britain of course, it may be a perfectly ordinary day when the weather in the USA is pretty dire. I can not say that I have noticed particularly foul or for that matter pleasant weather when my leg cramps arrive.(Actually I have been having the usual neck aches and the less common leg cramps too lately. Maybe I am lucky. Maybe I can use them to forecast volcanic activity.Hooray!)For those in a similar fix, recognize the onset of cramps by realizing you are stretching and yawning involuntarily (I even notice I am doing it these days when I am asleep or semi conscious and in bed.) That is the time to hop out of it and get your slippers on. There may not be time to dress before the first cramps occur. Start walking about before they do and do not, for goodness sake, sit down.When you can, get dressed and go for a walk, meantime make a cup of strong, hot tea with no milk or sugar. I can’t recommend it for a cure but you are going to have a case of the runs later as the poison clears your system. Tea is an astringent that works well on that.You may lose a couple of hours sleep –which may mean the rest of your night if you have to get off to work later but at least you will have spared yourself much pain to go with such lack of sleep.I find that severe cramps may cause tendon or nerve damage that takes hours or days to get over. But then again, in the USA, a "western spell" of tornadoes will be repeated the next day in the middle states and later on, in the north eastern ones. So that "spell" can last 3 or more days as the storm crosses the USA. Such spells are well documented online.Here endeth the firthd chapter.*******Chapter 2.Times and seasons.Weatherlore seems to rely on the first few months of any year in order to make a forecast for the coming harvests. Since the weather is closely linked to the behaviour of the moon, the suspicion seems reasonable, in that the cycles of the moon will bring about certain types of weather in one season that are closely related to the following season’s weather.Merely looking at records of course will only supply statistics. Analysis of the role of lunar cycles is far more complex than that.So it is logical mere reliance on one kind of weather event in winter or spring will fail to provide adequate advice about the coming summer and autumn. But it will give a seasoned farm-hand a very good start. Mr. Inwards has this to say on the subject:“The saying of the French, Scots and English agree in many particulars – such as those referring to Candlemass and the early parts of February generally.”(Compare Candlemass to the sayings for the 16th February. This is about the time of the Chinese New Year and half way through a stockman's winter. It is also linked to the lore about hibernating animals in arboreal forests of the Northern Hemisphere.)

  2. “Some of these old sayings are interesting for indication the slow change of this country’s climate.” And while the reliance of signs at “Saint’s Days” are impugned, thus:“Particular saints’ days have also been selected as exerting special influence over the weather which is on the fringe of superstition spread by ignorance…”Which if the prophet had originated his fable from watching the stars and the weather, the so called saint benefiting from misplaced adulation would have had his day given to him by pastoral soothesayers rather than the soothesayer relying on ancient adjuncts and fairy tales about liars and apostates.In other words; if the weatherlore was carefully crafted by knowledgeable people, doing their best with what they had, in the days when every tool of use to the farmer would have been treasured carefully, then the story might have had a large modicum of truth.The book relates that by the middle of the 20th century, the saint days had transmogrified by 4 days or so and that for example:“Saint Swithin should have his day celebrated on the 19th instead of the 15th of July..”Here are some of the less obscure sayings from chapter 2:“If the old year goes out like a lion, the new year will come in like a lamb.”“A bad year comes in swimming.” “After a wet year, a cold one.” “Wet and dry years come in triads.”These two are related as far as I have observed English weather though I am not a keen observer of harvests:“Misty year, year of corn stalks” “Frosty year, year of cornstacks.” In Britain, frosty and misty weather are interactive; though the sayings are attributed to Spain.One from France (Eure et Loire) says: “Frost year, fruit year.” And another French saying runs: “Frost year, wheat year.”Whilst in Italy: “Year of snow, fruit will grow.” Odd that the saying rhymes in translation as do the other Latin country sayings. It just goes to show how noble the English language is and so valuable a tool of science.Basically fog, wind, frost, snow and cold are all good weather indicators and indicate good weather. But the times of the seasons varies with the astronomer:Germinus at Rhodes about 70 BCE had the seasons come in with the solstices and equinoxes. But that might be more logical in the Greek islands than in Medieval Western Europe: “Winter lasts from 23rd November to 21st February; Spring from 22nd February to 24th May, summer to 23rd August; and autumn to 22nd November.”*******The official seasons in the 1950’s were:Winter is December to FebruarySpring runs from March through MaySummer, June to August andAutumn, September to November.Lord Bacon stated that a “serene Autumn denotes a windy winter; a windy winter a rainy spring; a rainy spring a serene Summer and a serene Summer a windy Autumn.”Can anyone see the folly or for that matter the logic in that? He had it that “… the air, on a balance, is seldom debtor to itself.”Meanwhile according to the author “Extreme seasons are said to occur from the sixth to the tenth year of each decade especially in alternate decades.”The chapter then recollects some "borrowing" to forestall debts:“The first three days of any season” are said to “rule the weather of that season.”Furthermore: “The general character of the weather during the last twenty days of March, June, September or December will rule the following seasons.”While “A late spring is a great blessing.”Which is to say that bad weather early in the year is a good thing for the rest of the time. For it is better to have: “A late Spring and bear [fruit] than early blossom and [have it] blast[ed.] And: “If the cuckoo comes to bare thorn, sell your cow and buy your corn. But when she comes to the full bit sell your corn and buy your sheep.”Cuckoos apparently can fortell the weather. I imagine they can fortell when their prey is about to lay and it is the nesting birds that know when to hatch their eggs or lose the whole year’s generation -a massive loss for some species.But back to the innuendo, that temperature and or precipitation or the lack thereof, can cause a knock on effect many months in advance. No fluid dynamic is likely to have much of an effect on a season, not even the system immediately after it.Weather is the behaviour of air. Air columns can have very little affect on other air streams next to them at any time. It is a gas. The physics of gasses limit the behaviour of such fluids. It is immensely compressible and it is easily dissolved in most everyday liquids -as it is for instance, in the sea.So any knock on effect of the atmosphere is almost instantaneous and of very short duration. So short a duration in fact that it is difficult to comprehend how air can induce large waves.I’d have said that air can’t even cause wavelets had I not seen it done. I can only imagine that the exponential involved in the power train is amazing. And that gargantuan quantities of air must be invoked to create the least ripple.As for creating a lasting impression, you know how difficult it is to push water uphill. And water is much more cohesive than air.Want to take a moment to think about it?

  3. Before I let you throw out the baby with the bath water, you might want to consider disposing of the afterbirth. Contemporary physics allows the various weather computer models to generate scenarios that have a tendency to come true, where the runs developed from the sort of unrequited gaseous behaviour believed able to induce massive effects of exactly that nature, as its own dynamics.That too is not possible. It is not possible for air moving in a stream thousands of feet above the earth to impact air in another layer, certainly not all the way down to sea level in one lump. And all those one lumps united to be the world’s weather for any particular week.But that is exactly what meteorology presupposes for fairly accurate 5 and even 10 day forecasts. What is actually happening is no less than the same curious detail that weatherlore is identifying without explanation.The workings of the heavens present initial signatures that can be utilized to forecast the weather for the next few days.The appearance of jet streams above any location at a particular time of the year correspond with certain results that show up in the following days. I should perhaps not introduce the concept of the outside force involved in all this, the moon, as something that has sequences that closely match observations in the weather. But you can see for yourselves that it does…. in whatever part of the world you mark as your own sphere for study.If I am wrong, ask for your money back. I will return it all -all that I have not spent in an effort to further our understanding of the weather that is.*******So what does it mean:“A dry spring a wet summer” in France and for Britain: “Thunder in Spring, cold will bring”?Quite simply, the spate of lunar phases follow one another in such a fashion that the wary can look out for. It is not important the saying is accurate every time, just that a careful husbandman will be aware of the possibilities. As it happens, thunder is of an Arctic origin in Spring.That is to say:A confluence of high pressure to the west and low to the east will bring down Artic air which is cold but before it arrives the front between the two pressure areas will tend to provide thunder. The lunar phases involved in this are something I am still puzzling out as I write this but recent snowy weather in the British Winter has told the time of such phases and may be able to explain their periodicity.The lore goes on to state:“First thunder in Spring, if in the south, it indicates a wet season if the north a dry one.” So how does that work. As with Australia and Californian forest fires, the mileage varies for the reader. “Let the reader use discernment” as one bible character stated.The writer went on to state that thunder and lightning bode good things for the rest of the year. He then went on to say:“If there is Spring in Winter and Winter in Spring, the year won’t be good for anything.”There is more of the same which I will draw on later as there is more explanation to be made by their light once I have covered the subject more widely. The chapter has one more solid point to make though, before I move on:“A fair day in Winter is the mother of a storm” and “An unusually fine day in Winter is known locally[?]” as a “borrowed day”, to be repaid later with interest, known also as a weatherbreeder and by sailors as a fox.*******I'm sure I had more of this going but maybe it is on a computer that just won't click online for me yet. Damned thing!More later.I may be gone some time.

  4. It's a common saying in Britain when old people like me are confronted with changes for the better.Progress is for youths.I dnt lk th wy thy spk ths dys. In the good old days we had real grammar.What is it with this alco-pop muck? In the good old days we had real beer and real men drank it.

  5. Unfortunately they put female hormones in the beer these days. I can't think why…….but when I smell new shoes….

  6. I think it was an internet rumour from some years back. British firms are very closely monitored these days. To poison all the livestock on British farms you'd have to be a government agency.That last IS true.They have a research department that caused an outbreak of foot and mouth disease a few years ago. Nobody was strung up from a lampost for it. It was just allowed to go away quietly as all government scandals do eventually.Newspapers rant and rave and everyone is angry and digusted but as long as there are no pending elections, democracy is allowed to shuffle its feet for a bit.So how are you?

  7. Borrowed Days.With the British weather reacting the way it does to the causes of the weather it is notable that these unusual weather spells known in folklore as borrowed days, unseasonal weather which is remeniscent of different months; it should be noted that the effects felt elsewhere will be extreme.Convergence is the name given to how low pressure collects and grows. Inevitably, this stuff arranges itself over shallow seas. And builds up deep lows in most cases that result in hurricanes, tornadoes and the like.I dare say better directed study will reveal that the sort of weather the "borrowed days" presents is directly related to the sort of extreme that will be visited on regions elsewhere as it accumulates.Recently there was a spate of volcanic eruptions that occurred when Britain basked in an out of season sunny and mild spell. The whole effect lasted about a week and came at the end of a series of spells that I find difficult to predict.I aught to pull my finger out and look at how divergence operates. Divergence occurs when the low pressure areas cross land. The respective accoustics are refracted or filtered in such a manner that the Low deflates.It is also worht noting that Lows seldom reach High pressure areas and cancel each other out. This is because the cause of the High pressures and of the Lows is one and the same.When the acoustic frequencies build an High, the same frequency builds a Low in a different place. You might like the effect to the peaks and troughs that will appear in a cup of tea placed on a loudspeaker.

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