â€œWhen the windâ€™s in the east, tis good for neither man nor beast.â€ Thatâ€™s just one of the proverbs and sayings about the weather. But is any of it true? Iâ€™m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
ambience: hurricane winds
â€œWeather folklore is defined as using traditions and observations combined together to try and make predictions of the forthcoming weather events, whether that be on a short term basis or on a long term basis.â€
Mark Wysocki is an instructor in meteorology at Cornell University, whoâ€™s been testing the truth of weather folklore.
â€œOne that would be true folklore, would be dealing with the winds. If you observe the winds to be changing in a clockwise direction, that is, if the winds start out from the east and they swing to the south, that is usually an indicator of an approaching storm. This is true because, with storms, we have what we call frontal boundaries. As a front moves through, the winds will shift in this clockwise fashion. Now, one type of folklore that would not be true would be taking a look at the woolly bears.â€
A woolly bear is a type of caterpillar with brown and black stripes.
â€œAnd f you measure the brown stripe on a woolly bear, the whiter that stripe happens to be compared to the two black stripes, the milder the winter is supposed to be. Now a study was done for five years in New York on this and they found no correlation between this brown band on a woolly bear and the ability of this insect to forecast the forthcoming winter.â€
“The best way to test folklore is to become a good observer. You must be able to observe, repeatedly, whatever youâ€™re trying to test, keep a log. And therefore, if you are observing squirrels or red sunsets, or red sunrises, keep a record as to the type of weather events that follow, and then after several years, then start taking a look at the statistics, how many times did this folklore actually turn out to be true.”
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation.