Although we’re currently enjoying a good summer, the previous winter’s weather demonstrates European susceptibility to depressions and their fronts barrelling in from the North Atlantic.
While all mariners have a regard for forecasts and visual factors influencing weather, our sailing ship ancestors depended on their ability to “read” the weather, gleaned from historic lore and their shipboard training and experiences.
The only technology available to them was the “Glass” - rising, falling, or steady. Most of the Lore, built up over centuries, is good to fair and well worth noting.
Here are some of the favourites heard at sea, on the farm, and at the kitchen table.
- A greying sky, and a falling glass, Soundly sleeps the careless ass.
- If the wind shifts against the Sun, Trust it not, for Back it will run.
- Rain before veer, Hard blow is here.
- Veer before rain, Soon set sail again.
- Sharp rise after Low, Often foretells a stronger Blow.
- Only when the Glass is rising, Takes his watch below, the wise one.
- Rain before seven, Often fine by eleven.
- Rain from the East, A full day at least.
- Halo around the Moon, There will be a depression soon.
- Red sky at night, Shepherds delight.
- Red sky in the morning, Shepherds warning.
- Rainbow to eastward portends, improving weather as front has gone through.
- Rainbow to westward portends bad weather.
- Mare’s tails are cirrus and prefrontal clouds.
They usually precede the “greying sky” of above and portend bad weather.
All the above are applicable to Atlantic weather coming into the British Isles and assumes our weather comes from the west initially.
1 Cathedral Walk
Cloyne, Co Cork