We sometimes use weird expressions to define the weather, without knowing where these are from. Weather folklore has been around for thousands of years. They are often based on superstition and beliefs; however some of them can be true.

It’s raining cats and dogs!

  • What does it mean?

This weird but very common idiom means that it is raining very heavily. The origin of this expression is quite vague as we don’t really know when and why people started to say that. Some say that during heavy rains in 17-century England, city streets were full of dead cats and dogs.

The first printed use of the phrase is found in a 1651 collection of Poems by British poet Henry Vaughan. He referred to a roof secured against “dogs and cats rained in showers”.

Here is an alternative saying: It’s bucketing down!

 

It’s Baltic out there!

  • What does it mean?

This expression means that the weather is very cold. The idiom is with no doubt a reference to the area in and around the Baltic Sea, which has quite a cold climate.

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

  • What does it mean?

This expression describes typical March weather. In the Northern hemisphere, when March arrives, the winter is still bitterly cold and when the end of the month approaches, the weather becomes milder and we feel the transition to spring temperatures.

Another explanation is that, in Ancient Times, people looked at the starts and realised that the Constellation Leo, the lion, is present in the sky whereas towards the end of March, the Constellation Aries, the lamb, dominates the night sky.

 

Red sky in morning, Sailors take warning. Red sky at night, Sailors' delight.

Red Sunset - Christian Thiergan.

  • What does it mean?

This proverb means that if the sunrise shows a red colour, it might rain during the day, and therefore be a bad day for sailors whereas if it’s the sunset that is red, then the weather will be good and sailors will have a wonderful day at sea.

  • Is this proverb true?

The white light of the sun is actually a mixture of the colours of the rainbow. The rays of the sun are split into colours of the spectrum as they arrive into the atmosphere. During the day, molecules in the air scatter blue light more than red light; this is why we see a blue sky.

The first thing to know is that the weather usually moves from the West to the East. A red sky in the morning means that dry air and dust from the west has already passed, and a storm might be on its way. On the contrary, when we see a red sunset, it means that the air is dusty and dry ad good weather is on its way.

Here is an alternative saying: Red sky at night, shepherds' delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning.

 

When windows won’t open, and the salt clogs the shaker, the weather will favor the umbrella maker!

  • What does it mean?

This saying means that if your salt clogs and your window won’t open, or close, it will probably rain – and make the umbrella maker happy!

  • Is this proverb true?

When the air is full of moisture, wooden objects such as wood window frames tend to get sticky. Therefore, opening a window or a door becomes harder than usual. In the same idea, salt clogs in the shaker and does not pour out easily when the level of moisture in the air is high. When these things happen, there is most likely precipitation coming.

 

When halo rings Moon or Sun, rain's approaching on the run.

A halo - Public Domain.

  • What does it mean?

If you look up at the sun – or the moon – and see a halo around it, it means that it will probably rain soon.

  • Is this proverb true?

A halo forms in the sky when ice crystals present at high altitudes refract the sunlight – or moonlight. When that moisture descends in the sky, it can melt rapidly and transform into rain. However, this saying is generally truer in summer than in winter.