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What Does Red Sky In The Morning Mean?

What Does Red Sky In The Morning Mean?

The rhyme is so old, it even appears in the Bible. But does anybody actually know what it means?

The English language is full of age-old sayings that nobody really understands the origins or meanings of. One such saying is about red skies being a warning for bad weather. 

The saying goes: “Red sky at night, Shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, Shepherd’s take warning.” Most of us will probably just remember our parents and grandparents saying it and accepting it, without any logic or explanation of it. 

The rhyme has been used for so long by shepherds and sailors, that a version of it even appears in the Bible, but what does it actually mean? Is there any truth to the old wive’s tale?

What does ‘red sky in the morning’ mean?

The rhyme suggests that a red sky in the morning is a “shepherd’s warning,” meaning you should expect bad weather such as a rainstorm. This makes sense, as shepherds work outside and would need to be prepared for bad weather.

What does ‘red sky at night’ mean?

A red sky at night, as the rhyme goes, is “shepherd’s delight,” and it means there will be good weather the following day. 

What causes a red sky?

Unsplash/Benjamin Davies)

During the winter months, high pressure in the atmosphere leads to cold, dry days with light winds and as a result, particles such as dust get trapped in the air. When the sun rises and shines on the particles, it gives a pink-red hue in the sky. 

So, is there any truth in the ‘shepherd’s warning’ myth? It depends on where you are. 

In countries such as the UK, where the weather systems move from west to east, the rhyme does hold some truth. If there’s a red sky in the morning in these places, it’s an indicator that the weather is clear to the east, where the sun rises from, but cloudy overhead, which suggests the clouds (and potential bad weather) are only just starting to move in. 

This also explains why a red sky at night is thought to be an indicator of good weather to come. 

However, in the tropics, this rhyme wouldn’t really make sense, because the prevailing winds and weather systems move in the opposite direction. 

So there you have it. Next time somebody uses that saying or asks about what it means, you will be able to explain.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash/Alexander Belotte

Topics: Weather