Weather Lore: A Crimson Morning


This was the vista outside my apartment building at sunrise this morning.  Breathtaking, and gone in a heartbeat.  I spliced three photos together, using PhotoShop, to create a panoramic view of the eastern horizon — you can click to enlarge, thanks to the outstanding WP support staff who solved my problem within minutes of asking. :)

Red sky at night, sailors delight;

Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.


I’m sure most of you have heard that old adage — but is there any truth to it?  Can weather lore really predict the weather or the season?  I found the following answer and explanation at Everyday Mysteries and thought I’d share it with you.

Have you ever heard anyone use the proverb above?

Shakespeare did. He said something similar in his play, 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.”

In the Bible, (Matthew XVI: 2-3,) Jesus said, “When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.”

Weather lore has been around since people needed to predict the weather and plan their activities. Sailors and farmers relied on it to navigate ships and plant crops.

But can weather lore truly predict the weather or seasons?

Weather lore concerning the appearance of the sky, the conditions of the atmosphere, the type or movement of the clouds, and the direction of the winds may have a scientific basis and likely can predict the weather.

In order to understand why “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning” can predict the weather, we must understand more about weather and the colors in the sky.

Usually, weather moves from west to east, blown by the westerly trade winds. This means storm systems generally move in from the West.

The colors we see in the sky are due to the rays of sunlight being split into colors of the spectrum as they pass through the atmosphere and ricochet off the water vapor and particles in the atmosphere. The amounts of water vapor and dust particles in the atmosphere are good indicators of weather conditions. They also determine which colors we will see in the sky.

During sunrise and sunset the sun is low in the sky, and it transmits light through the thickest part of the atmosphere. A red sky suggests an atmosphere loaded with dust and moisture particles. We see the red, because red wavelengths (the longest in the color spectrum) are breaking through the atmosphere. The shorter wavelengths, such as blue, are scattered and broken up.

Red sky at night, sailors delight.
When we see a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles. This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Basically good weather will follow.

Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.

A red sunrise reflects the dust particles of a system that has just passed from the west. This indicates that a storm system may be moving to the east. If the morning sky is a deep fiery red, it means a high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain is on its way.

We ARE expecting a snow storm this evening and into tomorrow morning, predicted to leave us with another 10 – 25 cms of snow, depending on what part of the province you live in.  If the redness of the sky is any predictor of the severity of the storm, it should be a whopper!  However, it is January, and most of us take it all in stride, like these two unlikely friends, who shared a frosty perch this morning.



Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

23 thoughts on “Weather Lore: A Crimson Morning”

  1. Nancy, Another lovely post and photos…you do brighten my days! I have noticed that red sky in morning often heralds rain; usually later in the day. Now I can explain it! Thank you very much! Have a good day and keep safe and warm. gail

  2. What splendid views (good stitching!) – hope you don’t get too much snow – it has been so wintery this year. I’m always amazed at how those dear creatures can puff themselves up to keep warm.

  3. Gorgeous panoramic view of the eastern horizon, Nancy. Regarding the old adage … who knows … nothing seems to make sense anymore ;) We’re in for a doozy also. Like these frigid temps !

  4. Lovely, Nancy. Shall I embarrass myself and confess I haven’t seen a sunrise in weeks? I tend to have naps during the day but when I finally go to bed, I sleep for hours–all part of the healing process, apparently–and don’t get up til nearly noon, sometimes later. But a few more weeks and I should be back to appreciating sunrises, at least some of the time. Meanwhile, I’ll appreciate yours!

  5. What a gorgeous sky. I like the info too. I hadn’t heard the quote of Christ from the bible. Most of the others I had heard.

  6. Hi Nancy – this sure makes it worthwhile getting up in the morning, doesn’t it? I love the image of the dove and starling as well…who’da thought they’d be branch-mates?

  7. Gorgeous photo, Nancy. The sky can be very mysterious and awesome. This time it is breathtaking. And thanks for the info too. On our coldest nights we have the most colorful and vivid sunsets.

  8. Beautiful photos, Nancy, as usual! I never really knew just why that adage was true, and thanks to you, now I do. I love learning stuff like this. Thanks!

  9. I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember when I saw my last sunrise! Definitely not an early riser, I’d much rather be up late at night. I’m glad you (and others) get up tho so I can see what I’ve been missing! Interesting reading your info on red sky at night vs morning ~ I’ve always found it to be true….

  10. Nancy .. I’m sorry it took me so long to get here and see these marvelous … stunning .. beautiful sunrise pictures .
    I would have been looking at them with a severe jaw drop because they are so awesome. I have yet to take one like this .. you had a perfect show that morning and you did a spectacular job .. you have inspired me to keep a little club .. Red Sky Morning Club !!
    I also loved the pictures of the birds .. you have one heck of a knack and camera girl ! : )
    Please let me know (if I miss it) when you take more sunrise/sunset pictures ?

  11. Great stitching! Beautiful photos! Those colors are glorious. The bird shot is a beauty too. Lovely colors in their feathers, and so pretty when they puff up like that.

  12. Fascinating! In our family, we always say shepherd’s delight and shepherd’s warning, for some reason. Whether you’re a sailor or a shepherd (or just a gardener hoping for some fine weather) it does seem to hold true, I find. And who minds a bit of rain if you get a sunrise like that to look at?

  13. Nancy, Just breathtaking… I have loved seeing the dawning sky and for that matter the evening sky this winter. You have a lovely vista and did a great job piecing together your panaramic for us to get the view too.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

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