Red at Night

Red at Night : Promise of Tomorrow

“Red at Night sailors delight, Red in the morn sailors be warned.” So says one of the ancient maritime legends dealing with weather forecasting.    Upon a little investigation this legend pops up in different ways and saying around most of western civilizations.


It’s even found in the New Testament. (Matthew 16: 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.”


Even Shakespeare had his own version. “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.”- Shakespeare – Venus and Adonis.


So what exactly is going on?  Evidently, when you peer into the setting sun, the light rays refract the color red as they move through dust particles high in the atmosphere.  Dust particles in the sky suggests a drier more stable air mass moving in from the west.  This  greatly increases the odds of good weather the next day or so.  Whereas in the morning, a red sky is bouncing the color red back from the east.  This means the stable air has passed you and unstable air is on the way from the west.  Thus, you get storms.


Is all this correct?  Not really.  It doesn’t seem to have any more accuracy than some of the modern-day weather forecasts.  But that is only true when you are in a location that gets its weather patterns predominately from the west.  Otherwise it’s a gamble, like most weather forecasts.


In this particular case, Red at Night accurately forecasted the next day.  The 9 inches of flooding rain that had deluged the area for 3 days finally came to an end.  It is always exciting to see the sun make such a fabulous exit for that day and leave a promise to return to the sky tomorrow.


I hope you enjoyed this piece and would like to leave a comment below.


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3 thoughts on “Red at Night : Promise of Tomorrow”

  1. It would be interesting to develop a photo journal associated with weather themes such as this one about red skies. I enjoy your narrative and was grateful for literary references

  2. Thanks for your reply. That’s a great idea for a journal. When you have been “educated” to be a historian/archaeologist/science type person the literary reference thing gets pounded into you until it becomes second nature. 🙂

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