Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Weather Lore: Origin of Red Sky At Night

What do "rainbow skies in morning" mean?
7 AM, September 27, 2007 in Barton

mrsnesbitt's place: Toad in the Hole part 2!
Red sky at night, Sailor's delight; 
Red sky at morning, Sailor's warning.
Practical origins for this English nursery rhyme are based on weather predictions and how a red sky at night would indicate fair weather on the following day. In England the words refer to a shepherd who would say that a red sky in the morning was suggesting inclement weather to follow. In America the words relate to a sailor. It should be remembered that there were no weather forecasts, as such, in days gone by and one had to make one's own weather predictions. Those with the most knowledge and experience, such as Sailors and Shepherds, whose lives were dependant on the weather and were fully conversant with changing weather patterns indicated by a 'Red Sky at night'. The original origins of this Nursery Rhyme can be traced to the Bible: Matthew 16:2-3:
2 - He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3 - And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

Thank you, Mrs. Nesbitt, for the background information on this gem.

In the Wikipedia: weather lore article I learned why this particular weather folklore is true:
Weather systems typically move from west to east, and red clouds result when the sun shines on their undersides at either sunrise or sunset[9][10]. At these two times of day, the sun's light is passing at a very low angle through a great thickness of atmosphere, the result of which is the scattering out of most of the shorter wavelengths -- the greens, blues, and violets -- of the visible spectrum, and so sunlight is heavy at the red end of the spectrum. If the morning skies are red, it is due to the fact that clear skies to the east permit the sun to light the undersides of moisture-bearing clouds coming in from the west. Conversely, in order to see red clouds in the evening, sunlight must have a clear path from the west in order to illuminate moisture-bearing clouds moving off to the east. There are many variations on this piece of lore, but they all carry the same message.
Technorati tags:


  1. Great Post.
    I'm copy and paste and e-mail it to some other people

  2. I have heard this rhyme before thanks for including the background information. What a lovely photo.

  3. I just want to note that, even with weather forecasts, we still don't know what the weather will be like. It seems they are always wrong!

    I wanted to let you know that I gave you an award. I'm just being a little slow at letting you know.

  4. I always wondered what the saying was about...pretty interesting! I'll have to pay more attention to the skies from not on.

  5. I just love the lessons I learn here!
    We had a rainbow the other morning on my way to work.
    I will have to ask around and see if we had a red sky the night before.


Thank you for visiting and for your comments!


Related Posts with Thumbnails