Weather Witching: Rain

For much of its history, North Carolina was a state driven by agriculture. Rain is the fuel that drives the growth of crops, and a farmer's survival was dependent on having the right amount of rain at the right time. Too little, or too much, could lead to poverty and starvation.

It's no wonder that a rich folklore around predicting - and even causing - rain developed across the state. The following examples of weather witching lore were collected by folklorists and researched from across the state, dating from the late 19th up to near the end of the 20th Centuries.

Predicting Rain

Hearing dead trees or dead branches falling in the woods is a sign of rain.

If the undersides of the leaves of trees turn up, it is a sign of rain.

If flowers stay open all night, rain is coming.

If dandelions shut their blossoms, rain is coming.

If chairs creak louder that they usually do, it means rain.

A dove cooing before the sun rises means it will rain within three days.

When birds fly close to the ground, it is a sign of rain.

A cat's sneeze is a sign of rain.

A dream of death means rain is coming.

When raindrops draw bubbles on a river, more rain is due.

If the quarter moon is turned down, a rainy month will follow.

If the sun sets behind a bank of clouds on a Sunday, there will be rain before Wednesday.

A blacksnake crawling on a hot day is a sign of rain.

Tree frogs call out just before it rains.

Dew on cobwebs on sunrise means rain before sunset.

Fireflies flying low to the ground means rain.

Hanging a blacksnake skin on a fence will bring the rain.

Land birds flying to the sea and seabirds flying to the land means rain.

When glass sweats, expect rain.

Fog three mornings in a row means rain the third day.

Owls hooting on a summer night means rain.

Redbirds near the house means rain.

If there's a ring around the moon, count the starts within the ring. It will rain for that many days.

Red sun at sunrise means rain that day.

If it rains while the sun is shining, the Devil is beating his wife and it will rain again the next day.

Making Rain Happen

If you place a circle of trumpet plants upside down around a tree in a drought, it will draw rain.

Stepping on a toad brings rain.

If you hang up your coat the wrong side out, it will rain.

Sweeping the yard brings the rain.

Women gathering in groups brings rain.

Sources

Gainer, Patrick W. Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians West Virginia University Press, 2008

White, Newman Ivey the Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore Duke University Press, 1964

Wigginton, Eliot, ed. Foxfire 2, Anchor, 1973