Red Sky At Night …

I was proofreading an advance copy of a friend’s book and came to a passage which included this age-old bit of weather lore:

text sampleRed sky at night, sailors delight,
Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning

I have heard this since I was a child.  It seems to be something with which most people are familiar.  But I wondered, does it really work and if so, why?  While looking up its origins, I found another reference to this advice:

Matthew 16:2: “[Jesus] replied, [to some Pharisees and Sadducees that wanted to “test” him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven] ‘When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

Yes indeed, it’s been around a while. So why does this old adage work as a weather predictor?  Here’s what the encyclopedia has to say:

wrkskk red sky

“Weather systems typically move from west to east, and red clouds result when the sun shines on their undersides at either sunrise or sunset. At these two times of day, the sun’s light is passing at a very low angle through a great thickness of atmosphere commonly known as The Belt of Venus. The result of which is the scattering out of most of the shorter wavelengths — the greens, blues, and violets — of the visible spectrum, and so sunlight is heavy at the red end of the spectrum. If the morning skies are red, it is because clear skies to the east permit the sun to light the undersides of moisture-bearing clouds coming in from the west. Conversely, in order to see red clouds in the evening, sunlight must have a clear path from the west in order to illuminate moisture-bearing clouds moving off to the east.”

So now you know!  By the way, be sure to keep watching our blog for news of the release of the book I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Shari and I think it’s a great story!                                                                                                                                   -Wyatt-