Appalachian Wisdom: Predicting the Weather

A little while ago at the recommendation of my grandfather, I began reading the Foxfire series.  It’s unlikely that many of y'all have heard of this series of field guides, but they’re quite an interesting read.  

Written and published in 1966 by a group of group of Appalachian high school students in Georgia, these books recorded the daily life of the hill-folk in the Appalachian mountains. The topics these books cover include everything from moonshining to log cabin building.  


A section I found interesting was a short segment tucked away in the back on predicting weather.  

According to Appalachian lore, it will rain:

  • “Within three days if the horns of the moon point down.”
  • “If leaves show their backs.”
  • “If cows are lying down in the pasture.”
  • “If there is a ring around the moon.  Count the stars in the ring and it will rain within that many days.”
  • “If the sun sets with clouds.”
  • “Within three days, if you see a black snake in a tree.”
  • “If an ant covers the hole to his ant hill.”
  • “If smoke goes to the ground.”
  • “The same time the next day, if  the sun shines while it rains.”
  • “If earthworms come to the surface.”
  • “If birds fly low.”

“If it hasn’t rained in a long time, and it starts before 7 a.m., it’ll quit before 11 a.m.”

“If it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain every Sunday for seven weeks.”

“The first twelve days after Christmas indicate what each month in the next year will be like.”

“The weather will be fair if:

  • "You hear a screech owl.”
  • “Smoke rises.”
  • “Crickets holler: the temperature will rise.”

Every Southerner (living in Appalachia or not) should give these books a read.  They cover so many topics and are so varied that there will surely be something to your liking in one of them!  

Source: Foxfire Book 1

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