Belief in weather lore is more than just Scotch Mist

A majority of the British public rely on traditional lore and superstition to help them predict the weather, according to a new survey.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 20th July 2017, 5:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:05 pm
Almost three quarters of British adults use the 'red sky at night' adage to predict good weather.
Almost three quarters of British adults use the 'red sky at night' adage to predict good weather.

The research, carried out by the Met Office, has found that the use of ‘traditional’ methods of forecasting such as ‘red sky at night, shepherd’s delight’, or that it can be ‘too cold to snow’ is more prevalant than expected.

Three quarters of UK adults say they use folklore to predict the weather. The most commonly-used methods were revealed to be: Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight – used by 70 per cent; It can be too cold to snow – used by 49 per cent; Cows lie down when it is about to rain – used by 44 per cent; Pine cones open up when good weather is coming – used by 26 per cent; If it rains on St Swithin’s day, it will rain on each of the next 40 days – used by 22 per cent

In total, 58 per cent of UK adults think that these methods are accurate to some degree, and two thirds think that they can be more reliable than official forecasts. Nearly half of UK adults who have used traditional methods to predict the weather, however, say they have been ‘caught out’.

To help separate fact from fiction, experts at the Met Office teamed up with radio DJ and television presenter Scott Mills. In a video, which can be viewed at, Scott and Met Office meteorologist and presenter Charlie Powell investigate the science behind the folklore.

Charlie said: “We were blown away by just how many people use traditional methods to forecast the weather, however, some of these weather sayings are backed up by science and can help to give a sense of what sort of weather may be on its way.

“Others, such as cows lying down when it is about to rain, are nothing more than old wives’ tales. But either way, none of the methods are as accurate as official forecasts from the Met Office and the research demonstrates that many people have been caught out by relying on weather folklore. My advice would be to just check the official Met Office forecast online or on our popular weather app.”