I often wonder about the weather and our ancestors when severe weather approaches my home. They had no televisions or radios to warn them and no sirens to scream of the approaching tornado. My father-in-law, Angelo Sansone, often would say, “If you want to know what the weather is, just look out the window!”…That is so true for our ancestors.
In the early years, weathervanes and almanacs were used to predict which way the wind was blowing. Scientists would spend many hours studying the formation of clouds. Early forms of thermometers have been found that measured temperature. Moisture and air pressure were measured also.
Farmers relied on “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” that started about 1792 and “The Farmer’s Almanac” about 1818. “The Farmer’s Almanac” had a success rate of about 60 percent. This would help determine when to plant and harvest the crops.
For short-term predictions, one simply has to look up in the sky, as my father-in-law would say. But rings around the sun or moon indicate high altitude moisture. One can also look at contrails left behind by airplanes. While conspiracy theorists claim the government is using chemicals disguised as contrails to control the weather, scientists say that contrails are an indicator of weather, not a cause. A thicker contrail that stays in the sky may indicate moist and rising air, foretelling a storm in a day or so. Disappearing contrails indicate falling and dry air meaning clear skies ahead.
Families that lived near the waters would only have the wind, waves and clouds to judge an oncoming hurricane. Our current radar has saved many lives with early warnings. Sharp changes in the temperature would also signal a storm may be approaching.
Some say animals can help predict the weather. Here are some signs that are supposed to mean that rain is on the way:
Frogs croak louder and longer than usual.
Dogs whine or act nervous and cats get frisky as kittens.
Roosters crow later in the day.
Birds fly lower to the ground and gather on tree branches and telephone wires.
Pigs squeal more and gather sticks to make a nest.
Cows sit down in the fields to feed. They run around the field with their tails high swatting flies before a storm.
Bees and butterflies seem to disappear from the flower beds they usually visit.
Red and black ants build up the mounds around their ant holes.
Fish jump out of the water to nip at low-flying insects.
Some crickets are said to chirp only when rain is on its way.
The weather influences us in our daily activities, our jobs and how we travel. This influenced our ancestors too in their lives. As we research them, think about where they lived and how the weather may have influenced them.