For centuries, weather myths have been passed down through the generations. You grew up hearing things like, “if the cows are laying down, that means rain is coming,” but we know that’s not true, cows can’t predict the weather. Or can they?
As time goes on, we believe these statements as fact without questioning if they’re true or not. While some of them may be true, some of them are just myths. Read on to discover if the common weather folklore you’ve known for ages are fact or fiction.
1. Lightning never strikes the same place twice - FALSE
This saying is used a lot and believed by a lot; however, lightning can (and does) strike in the same place more than once so this is a myth. Tall buildings, especially, get struck by lightning multiple times since it is an easy target. The odds of a person getting struck by lightning even once is very small…but never zero.
2. The number of seconds between a lightning strike and the sound of thunder equals how many miles away the strike occurred - TRUE
If you’ve ever found yourself counting “one Mississippi…two Mississippi” between lightning striking and the clap of thunder, you were probably counting to determine how many miles away the storm is. This popular saying is a fact. The National Weather Service states, “count the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder, divide by 5 and you’ll get the distance in miles to the lightening. Example: 5 seconds = 1 mile, 15 seconds = 3 miles, 0 seconds = very close.”
Thunder is the sound of a lightning strike, but you will see lightning before you hear it’s sound. Around 10 miles is the range you can hear thunder, so you can always know a storm is at least 10 miles away from you anytime you hear a thunderclap.
3. You shouldn’t take a shower during a thunderstorm - TRUE
Can you shower or bathe during a storm? Another popular saying that states you shouldn’t take a shower during a thunderstorm because of lightning. This saying is a fact and should be taken seriously. The National Weather Service warns people that, “metal plumbing and the water inside are both good conductors of electricity. Therefore, do not wash your hands or dishes, take a shower or bath, do laundry, etc. during a thunderstorm.”
4. You’ll catch a cold If you go outside with wet hair - FALSE
Do you remember being told this? What if we told you this is a myth? Colds are caused by viruses and whether it’s cold outside or hot, you can still catch a cold. Simply going outside with wet hair or going to bed with wet hair (another myth), will not cause you to catch a cold.
How does the weather affect our pets and animals?
Animals are intellectual and instinctual creatures, and our pets can bring us a lot of joy. They are intuitive enough to recognize when you’re about to feed them or take them on a walk and even seem to know when you’re feeling sad. But are animals intuitive enough to sense the weather? There are several weather myths involving animals out there. Let’s dive in.
5. Animals can predict the weather – MAYBE?
It’s never been scientifically proven that animals can predict the weather; but some people who deal with animals regularly have noticed behavioral changes in them before an intense weather change.
For example, some cow farmers have noticed their cows eating much more than normal in the weeks leading up to an unusually cold winter. They think the cows were putting on weight to help keep them warm during the months of freezing temps. And there are plenty of dog owners who think their dogs can sense when a storm is brewing by the way they hide under a bed or act anxiously before the first crack of thunder is ever heard.
We know some animals have sharper senses than humans, and we know an impending storm can cause environmental changes like a decrease in air pressure. So, it makes sense that animals may respond to weather changes. But don’t rely on your dog to tell you if you need to take an umbrella each day!
6. The groundhog’s shadow predicts when winter will end - FALSE
Punxsutawney Phil, the official name for the groundhog used in the Punxsutawney, Philadelphia, Groundhog Day tradition, has been predicting the winter timeline for more than a century now. Or has he?
The concept of Groundhog Day, held annually on February 2, is if the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, winter is over. Obviously, this is a myth as well. It’s a fun tradition that everyone loves to get in on, but there is no truth behind Groundhog Day and the winter timeline.
7. Cows lie down when it’s about to rain – FALSE
Have you ever driven by a cow pasture and been confused when someone says, “Oh! It’s about to rain.” There is an old wives’ tale that cows lie down before it rains. There are so many quirky theories about this – from the thought that cows want to preserve a dry piece of land to the belief that rain makes a cow’s stomach hurt – but not one of them are scientifically proven. According to The Dairy Alliance, cows spend up to 12 hours a day lying on the ground. It doesn’t mean it’s going to start raining – it just means they’re being cows.
For all the myths out there that aren’t true, there are plenty of weather safety tips that should be taken very seriously. Weather can be very dangerous and unpredictable, so being prepared is key. You should also make sure your home is adequately insured so if you have damage to your property, you’re financially prepared to get back to normal. Call your local Alfa® agent today for a free quote!