Weather Witching: Telling the Weather

Telling what the weather will be for the coming days, months, or even years is a matter of vital importance to agricultural communities. With the weather in North Carolina being notoriously changeable, the people of the state developed a rich folklore of knowing how to read the world around them to see the signs of what the weather would be. Weather witching is the art of predicting, and even trying to influence, the weather around you. The following list is a collection of weather wisdom gathered by folklorists and researchers in North Carolina fro the end of the 19th through the 20th centuries.

Weather Wisdom for Predicting the Weather

To tell whether the weather for the coming year will be wet or dry, take twelve hulls from dried onions and place each outside in its own saucer on Christmas Eve Night. Drop a pinch of salt in each, naming each for a month as you go. In the morning, check to see in which shells the salt has melted. In those where the salt has melted, the months they are named for will be wet. In those where the salt is dry, those months the are named for will be dry.

The weather for the Twelve days from New Christmas to Old Christmas (December 25th to January 6th) will predict the weather for the Twelve months of the coming year. If the first day is warm, January will be warm. If the second day is cold and snowy, February will be cold and snowy, and so on.

If February 14th is pretty, the rest of the year will be pretty.

Snow on Christmas Day means green grass at Easter.

Evening red, morning gray
Sets the traveler on his way
Evening gray, morning red
Puts the traveller in his bed.

A low dawn means foul weather, a high dawn fair.

A circle around the sun means bad weather.

When the sun sets leaving a red bank, the weather will turn bad.

A rig around the moon foretells bad weather, the number of stars inside the ring tells how many days it will last.

When the horns of the moon are tuned down, bad weather is coming.

When the smoke bets the ground, the weather will be bad.

Dreaming of the dead foretells bad weather.

A cat lying with it back to the fire means bad weather.

When a cat jumps up and runs around, bad weather is coming.

If a cat licks her fur the wrong way, bad weather is coming.

When a hog carries a stick around, bad weather is coming.

A dove cooing in the morning means bad weather is coming.

The weather changes with the quarters of the moon.

A rooster crowing after dark means the weather is changing.

A full moon will eat up clouds.

When clouds go off with the sun, the next day will be clear.

Clear patches of sky in the Northeast mean the whole sky will clear.

Rising smoke means clear weather.

Swallows flying high is a sign of clear weather.

If chickens come down from a fence and start pecking during the rain, the rain will soon cease.

Rain before seven,
Sunshine before eleven.

Dew before midnight,
The next day will be bright.

Big white frost in the morning is a sign of a sunny day.

Fire burning with a blue flame means cold weather.

Foxfire calls the cold.

Birds coming near the house means bad weather.

A wet May brings a dry July.

If doesn't rain in the first of the Dog Days, it will stay dry for some time.

Red clouds in the south mean dry weather.

When the dew is on the grass
Rain will never come to pass.

A wind from the south on the Twentieth of March foretells a summer drought.

If the horn of the new moon are pointed up, the month will be dry.

A bird in the house brings drought.

When a bad man dies, the weather will dry.

A rainbow in the evening brings fair weather.

Red clouds bring fair weather.

When you see the new moon for the first time with nothing blocking your view, it is a sign of fair weather.

If an owl hoots of the west side of the mountain, the weather will be fair.

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