Progress Check - FOUR SEASONS / GEOGRAPHY
Self-Assessment Test Units 1-2
Listen to the weather forecast and complete the sentences below:
The following text on Weather Proverbs by R.E. Spencer, formerly of the National Weather Service, first appeared in the December 27th, 1954 issue of the "Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin."
If you're trying to make your own forecasts, weather proverbs will not generally be applicable. Only those which are found to be based upon scientific facts and principles are worth considering.
Sayings pertaining to forecasts for coming seasons are entirely without foundation. For example, peculiar growths and developments in vegetation are the results of weather conditions that have passed and have no connection with those to come. The character of the muskrat's house or the beaver's dam is the direct result of the stage of the water at the time the structure was made.
The trouble with weather proverbs is not so much that they're all wrong, but that they're not all right for all times in all places. Some of the ones we hear in New England originated thousands of years ago in northern Africa near the Mediterranean Sea where they could be heard and repeated and at last recorded by the writers of the Old Testament.
And many a farmer in the Mid-West, depending on a sure-fire weather which he says that his grandfather brought from Germany or Sweden, has found it useless in the United States.
However, distances far shorter than either of these are enough to ruin some weather proverbs - for instance, those that predict rain from the direction of the wind. When the wind blows up the side of a mountain, it is cooled and loses its moisture in the form of rain; so that a west wind blowing up the west side of a mountain would produce the same result – the falling of rain - as an east wind blowing up the east side of the same mountain.
Another point worth noticing about the importance of locality is that, on the Pacific Coast, the moisture-bearing winds blow in from the west and southwest, while in the east they come from over the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. The two following, then, should not be considered too seriously in the east. "A western wind carries water in his hand"; "When the east wind touches it, water shall wither."
On the other hand, the one following would have few takers on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains and the Sierras, where rain and snow are very frequent companions of west and south-west winds: "When the wind is in the west, the weather is always best." In addition, the south wind, about which it is said "The south wind warms the aged" and "The south wind is the father of the poor," are about the wettest, stormiest, and generally least pleasant of winds in our states bordering the Gulf of Mexico.
The proverb writers, including Shakespeare himself, are noticeably consistent in pointing this out - "The southern wind doth play the trumpet to his purposes, and by his hollow whistling in the leaves foretells a tempest and blustering sky." "If feet swell, the change will be to the south, and the same thing is a sign of a hurricane." "When the wind's in the south, the rain's in its mouth." Anybody who has ever looked at a collection of these sayings must have been impressed by their variety. They are extremely ancient, about as old as language itself; they illustrate as well as anything the importance of human affairs; they demonstrate very clearly man's hopeful opinion that experience is a good teacher; their literary merit ranges from excellent to unspeakable; and their range of subject includes everything from apple trees to zymology.
Furthermore, like politics, which we are told make strange bedfellows, they produce some very striking relationships--wolves and crops, sky colors with foul results, holy days and unholy weather; and rain is foretold by the behaviour of cats, dogs and cattle, red hair and ropes, spiders and smoke, crickets, frogs, birds, mice, flies, rheumatism, etc., etc.
Squirrel stores of food and the thickness of squirrel fur make prophesies of hard winters. The drought or wetness of summers is predicted by the weather in March; what happens at Christmas foretells what will happen at Easter; light or heavy fog in October foretells light or heavy snow for the coming winter; and as one proverb says, "If the spring is cold and wet, then the autumn will be hot and dry," and another one says, "A wet fall indicates a cold and early winter," and still another one (this one from Holland) says, "A cow year is a sad year and a bull year is a glad year."
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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