‘Red Sky at Night’

Ted Shapiro, Special to The County
10 years ago

Before I begin this latest installment of “Weather Whys”, I would like to add a note to my last column, titled “Weather warnings deserve attention”, which ran August 13.

Following the publication deadline, I learned, thanks to the Caribou Public Library, that there was, sadly, a tornado fatality in the summer of 1954 (as reported by the Aroostook Republican). Mrs. Kate Taylor, 86, of the Van Buren Road in Connor, was killed by a tornado on the night of August 11, 1954. And though that is a shocking and sad thing to read, please remember, as the previous column stressed, you will, in The County, encounter life-threatening flash flooding and/or lightning much more often than a life-threatening tornado.
If you missed the last column, please check it out, as it will help ensure that your family continues to have a safe summer storm season.
On to weather sayings now! This week we’ll discuss what is perhaps the most commonly known of them: “Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight; Red Sky in Morning, Sailor take warning!”.
High Pressure Systems, which typically come with dry weather, often have particulate (dust) up in the atmosphere which causes the sunlight to scatter, so that we see reddish oranges early in the mornings or early in the evenings.
Now here is the key. We live in what are known as The Westerlies … which is to say, weather systems generally travel from the west to the east … SO … if those reddish oranges are to your west, high pressure is heading your way, whereas if those colors are seen in the east, high pressure is departing. Since highs and lows typically follow one another, if you see those colors leaving, a storm might be inbound … thus “Sailor Take Warning!
 Ted Shapiro holds the Broadcast Seal of Approval from both the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. An Alexandria, Va. native, he has been Chief Meteorologist at WAGM-TV since 2006. Email him at tshapiro @wagmtv.com.