What does a pink sky in the morning mean? Weather superstitions explained

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An early morning shot , this photo was taken during my game drive safari in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. The sunrise was so amazing with red and orange colour.

SEEING a red sky in the evening is often good news for tomorrow’s weather forecast.

However, waking to the same conditions can mean something completely different, as we look further into the popular weather superstition.

As beautiful as the morning sky can be, a red sky can offer some insight into the weather to come.

What does a pink sky in the morning mean?

When dust and small particles are trapped in our atmosphere by high pressure, it scatters blue light and leaves us with only red light in the sky.

It can mean good news when you see this evening but not so much when you wake to the same view.

Red sky in the morning appears mainly due to the high-pressure system having already moved east, along with any good weather, more often than not making way for wet and windy low-pressure.

This coined the saying “Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in morning, shepherd’s warning.”

What other weather superstitions are there?

Before we were able to predict the weather to the extent we can today, many superstitions existed for signs within nature that would give us clues towards what we could expect.

Even to this day, many people still consider these as a more reliable way to predict weather patterns.

Here are some of the better known ones:

Rain before seven, fine by eleven

There is some truth in this saying – if it rains before seven, more than likely it has been raining throughout the night and the storm is drawing to a close.

This often gives way to fine weather later in the day.

However, as we all know, rain in the UK has a tendency to hang around a lot longer.

The old English proverb is occasionally applied to other situations where it is hoped things will improve after a bad start.

A lazy cow means rain is on the way

This is an old wives’ tale that claims cows lie down on the grass when wet weather is approaching.

A study by the University of Arizona and Missouri discovered that cows stand for long periods when it is hot and lie down when it is cooler, which often happens just before an approaching weather system.

Scientists say this helps to regulate the animals’ core body temperature.

However, cows lie down for many other reasons – and there’s no scientific evidence rain is one of them.

Clear moon, frost soon

When the night sky is clear, the earth’s surface cools rapidly – there is no cloud cover to keep the heat in.

If the night is clear enough to see the moon and the temperature drops enough, frost will form.

But this saying isn’t true on a clear summer night.

It is believed to be a Scottish proverb but the original source is unknown.

Pine cones predict bad weather

Pine cones open and close depending on the humidity to help seed dispersal.

Inside the pine cone, there are lots of feather-light seeds.

When the weather is dry the pine cone opens up and any wind will catch the seeds and allow them to be dispersed in the air far away from the original tree.

When the humidity rises and rain is likely then the pine cone closes up to prevent the seeds from escaping.

But plants and animals do not predict the weather – they only react to it.

Feeling bad weather in your bones

The idea of feeling “under the weather” was created by Greek physician Hippocrates.

Today, people often claim they can feel the approach of cold weather in their teeth and aching bones.

But scientists have found no conclusive evidence between a link of pain and weather.

However, a 2007 American Journal of Medicine study of 200 people with knee osteoarthritis found a link between barometric pressure (the “weight of the air”) and pain level.

A lunar halo means rain is coming

If you see a halo around the moon on a clear night, it could be an indication that bad weather is coming.

While it may look like a ghostly ring, you’re actually seeing the light of the moon bending through ice crystals.

These ice crystals make up cirrus clouds – wispy ones that we find really high up in the sky.

These cirrus clouds don’t cause rain or storms, but they do precede some low-pressure systems by a day or two, and low-pressure systems bring precipitation storms.

Counting lightning flashes and thunderclaps reveals a storm’s distance

According to folklore, after seeing a lightning flash, you should count the number of seconds that pass before you hear the thunder.

Every five seconds equates to a mile of distance between you and the storm.

At sea level and around 20C, sound travels through the atmosphere at around 1,129 feet per second.

Thus, for every five seconds between lightning and thunder, the sound travels 5,645 feet, or roughly a mile.

It is useful for working out if the storm is coming towards you or going away.