Mythical ways of predicting storms.

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Mythical Ways to Predict a Storm (and How the Experts Really Do It)

Sometimes it’s easy to predict an incoming storm—all you have to do is look outside and see the first dark clouds gathering in the distance. But, as Southerners know, a hurricane can appear out of a week of perfect skies and mild temperatures. Preparation is key to staying safe in a storm, and at Paul Davis Restoration of Charlotte, we are invested in your safety. The sooner you know a storm is on the way, the sooner you can take the necessary precautions to protect your family and your home. Take a look at our list of how centuries of people have predicted the weather—and how today’s experts really do it!

6 Mythical Ways to Predict a Storm


MYTH: If a dog starts to whine for no reason, you can expect a major storm.

Before computers, radars, televisions and radios, our ancestors relied on their furry buddies to help warn them of incoming disasters. Many of their predictions were based on an ever-present barometer, their animal’s nose—they thought that if Fido was wailing, a storm must be on its way.


MYTH: Cats can predict windstorms

Is the cat scratching up a post like crazy? Then (city residents) might want to prepare for high winds! At least, a cat scratching a post was the most telling sign for farmers that an impending storm was near. Good old Patches also could warn them of snow (if she was turned away from the fire) or rain storms (if she was washing her face).


MYTH: If a cat licks its fur against the grain, a hailstorm is coming….

Before radars existed, sailors brought cats on board to help predict the weather (and to chase the rats that made their way into the sailors’ food supplies!). Hail was on the way if the cat licked its fur against the grain (fair warning for those in the Southeast!). If the cat sneezed, the sailors knew to prepare for rain, and if a cat was acting frisky, a windstorm was brewing!


MYTH: If the anthill is closed, a thunderstorm is on the way.

During the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC) in China, people perfected the art of weather prediction via animals. But they weren’t drawing conclusions from cats and dogs—they were using insects! According to this proverb, a closed anthill indicated a thunderstorm in the near future.


MYTH: Aching knees predict a storm.

How many times has your grandma claimed to predict an incoming rainstorm with her aching knees? Research has shown that a change in barometric pressure can cause joint pain, so while grandma’s predictions certainly aren’t scientifically accurate, there may be some truth of a storm in those sore knees!


MYTH: A ring around the moon means rain or snow is coming.

An old folk legend states that if you see a ring around the moon, you can predict rain. Unfortunately, the ring around the moon is an optical illusion—you’re actually seeing diffracted light rays hitting ice crystals in our own atmosphere. So while the ring may indicate that a rainstorm is on the way in the (city), you’re better off checking the radar to make a firm prediction!


How the Experts Really Do Predict Storms in the Southeast

No cats, ants or knees here—today, meteorologists predict the weather using radar, satellite and light detection (LIDAR) technology. With these devices, meteorologists can see large air masses and where they’re forming over the earth. Because air masses typically move quite predictably, scientists can predict weather patterns and types fairly accurately. It’s when they try to predict specific storms that things get a little less certain.


As Southerners know, hurricanes have a “season” from June to November. Each April, meteorologists can predict the number of storms that will form in the coming season, their paths and their severity using statistical data. Once a hurricane forms, meteorologists can see it on radars within three to five days of it forming, giving them a small lead-time to create a watch and to warn citizens. Of course, a hurricane’s intensity and path can never be predicted to total accuracy, which makes it all the more important that residents in the South have emergency kits and evacuation plans mapped out well in advance.


Thunderstorms form when warm, moist air hits unstable atmospheric conditions and that air rises quickly through the atmosphere—a frequent occurrence in the humid Southeast! Every day, meteorologists across the globe release weather balloons that rise into the atmosphere and transmit data about temperature, pressure, wind and moisture back to the scientists. They can then plot this information to forecast afternoon and evening storms. Satellites and radars also monitor weather patterns that could turn into thunderstorms. Wet weather events, of course, can cause real damage to your home. Be sure you have emergency contacts ready at your fingertips in case of basement flooding or your roof springs a leak.


Paul Davis Restoration of Charlotte serves Mecklenburg, Gaston and Lincoln counties in North Carolina.

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