Red sky in the morning; sailors take warning.
This saying is an ancient rhyme that is often repeated by sailors and is an important saying used by many as a rule of thumb to forecast the weather. It is even used by shepherds, just replace sailors with shepherds. The reference goes back to biblical times and was even referenced by William Shakespeare in his poem “Venus and Adonis“:
“Like a red morn that ever yet betokened
Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field,
Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds,
Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.”
But is there any truth to the saying? Generally …. yes. The traditional rhyme can be used at mid-latitutes regions at both hemispheres as weather systems generally move from the west to the east. A reddish sky in the morning around sunrise reflects the dust particles of a system that is passing from west to east and the red colour is caused by water vapour in the atmosphere. A red sky in the morning is never a welcome sight for sailors as it would indicate an approaching storm system. A red sky at dusk of course means that the sun is shining on clouds to the east and the weather conditions are generally clear and a sailor can expect good weather for the evening.
This saying of course does not seem to work very well where we live. We’ve witnessed red skies in the morning and had beautiful days while seeing red skies at dusk brought on a blizzard or two. Of course we also have had bad weather followed by a red sky in the morning. This is most likely because the sun does not rise and set in the same east-west trajectory as what we see in the mid-latitudes and we can’t quite use the old phrase when trying to predict the weather in the arctic. I’m sure there are traditional Inuit sayings or predictions for forecasting bad weather but we’ve not been told any. ~ Sophia & Rob