Cows and dew, what’s it to you?

10 years ago

Well, we’re getting to the time of year where we’ll soon be on the lookout for winter storms. Conveniently, there are two nifty signs, provided by M. Nature, that tell you whether hazardous winter weather may be approaching. Now both of these clues pertain to multi-hour periods of precipitation, that are typically preceded by those high, thin, wispy clouds, called cirrus, but also known as Mare’s Tails, because they look like the flowing tail of a horse.

So here’s Clue 1: When dew is upon the morning grass, rain will not soon come to pass. This saying refers to that day, which is to say, it is a predictor that that particular day will be dry. But why? Because the conditions which are ideal for a heavy dew are: clear skies, and winds which are very light. And where does this occur? Underneath high pressure systems, aka the “good” weather-makers.
While there may be a storm system approaching you within a couple of days, this clue tells you it that in all likelihood, it won’t be arriving that day.
Now Clue 2: A cow with its tail to the East, makes weather the least. First let’s tackle the meaning of “least”; in this usage it refers to “poor weather” (precipitation). Now a cow, (or any animal) which grazes, wants to, while it is concentrating on eating, smell any danger on the wind, so the animal tends to have its backside to the wind. And if its backside is facing the East, why that just so happens to be the direction the wind begins to blow from in advance of a multi-hour period of precipitation!
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