Weather Folklore

Since pioneers didn’t have Doppler radar to predict the weather, they tried to read clues from the natural world. How well can you forecast the weather using the following sayings?

As high as the weeds grow, so will the banks of snow.

When leaves fall early, fall and winter will be mild; When leaves fall late, winter will be severe.

Onion skins very thin, mild winter coming in; Onion skins thick and tough; coming winter cold and rough.

Birds flying low, expect rain and a blow.

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

Evening red and morning gray are sure signs of a fine day. Evening gray and morning red, put on your hat or you’ll wet your head.

Frogs call before a rain, but in the sun are quiet again.

Long foretold, long last Short notice, soon passed.

When ants travel in a straight line, expect rain: When they scatter, expect fair weather.

When spiders weave their webs by noon, fine weather is coming soon.


  • Pamela Holz, Ed., "Iowa Weather" Iowa Natural Resource Heritage Series. (1999) Iowa Association of Naturalists: 6.


Can you feel in your bones when bad weather is coming?

Media Artifacts

Investigation Tip: These sayings can have more information than just the words written. Look at how the information is presented. What does it tell you?