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Weather Facts

Weather Fact: Proverbs with some scientific explanation of observed animal behavior

The louder the frogs, the more's the rain.

Individual frogs don’t call more loudly, but stronger rain can stimulate more frogs to call, making for a louder overall chorus.
When frogs warble, they herald rain. (Zuni Indians)
Frogs croak more noisily, and come abroad in the evening in large numbers, before rain. Frogs are stimulated to call and become more active in periods of high humidity and rain.

When fish bite readily and swim near the surface, rain may be expected.
Atmospheric pressure is also felt in the water, not just above it, so fish feel better when there is less pressure on them. So fish feed on insects and other critters during falling barometric pressure. The following three proverbs are also correct for the same reason:

  1. When fish jump up after flies expect rain.

  2. Trout bite voraciously before rain.
    When trout refuse bait or fly,
    There ever is a storm nigh.

  3. Fish bite the least
    With wind in the east.
    Fishermen in anger froth
    When the wind is in the north;
    For fish bite the best
    when the wind is in the west.

Sea urchins thrusting themselves into the mud, or striving to cover their bodies with sand, foreshadow a storm.
Possible since the urchins could be sensing increasing wave action, loss of sunlight due to cloud cover and barometric pressure changes.
Sharks go to sea at the approach of a cold wave. This could be true due to the sharks responding to pressure changes more than anything. However, approaching hurricanes cause many fish, sharks included, to head into deep water which is more stable. Senior aquarist Rob Mottice recalls one “fish-less” diving trip to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, “We were diving shortly after a hurricane had passed through. Our timing was bad because we saw very few fish as they had not returned from deeper water yet.

In the northern lakes of the United States white-fish and lake trout leave reefs for deep water one month earlier in stormy falls than in mild, calm falls, with little winds. (Chippewa Indians) Probably true – since temperature changes and turbidity changes upset the normal, daily behavior of the fish. As visibility changes, larger fish would find it harder to locate prey. Smaller fish might move to areas where they could see predators better to avoid becoming a meal.

The early appearance of butterflies is said to indicate fine weather.  True – if you have a warm day in the middle of winter, some of the adult butterflies that are over-wintering as adults will come out and fly around for short periods during a warm spell.

Fish become inactive just before thunder showers, silent, and won't bite. At the point when pressure holds steady prior to a storm, fish stop feeding. As the atmospheric pressure gradually builds during the storm, and for some time afterward, they swim deeper to hunker down. Variations in the feeding activity of fish would of course depend upon the degree of atmospheric pressure changes. So this saying about pike and pickerel would ring true as well: When pike lie on the bed of a stream quietly, expect rain or wind.

If eels are very lively it is a sign of rain.
Freshwater eels would actively feed in response to barometric pressure changes, however saltwater species like moray eels tend to live deep enough that they wouldn’t experience much barometric pressure change.

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