It can be argued, of course, and apparently with good reason, that, in spite of its scientific interest, such a study can not now have any practical use, since nearly every country has a national weather service whose forecasts, for any given time and place, are reliably based upon the known immediately previous conditions all over a continent—conditions that are followed from hour to hour and day to day; that are minutely recorded and carefully studied.
It is true that when one is supplied with such information his horizon becomes world wide; that he sees the weather as it is ever}'where; knows in what directions the storms are moving and how fast, and that, therefore, he can predict the approximate weather conditions for a day or more ahead. But in general it is not practicable officially to forecast for definite hours, nor for particular farms and villages. In the making, then, of hour-to-hour and village-to-village forecasts, though often of great value, one must rely upon his own interpretation of the signs before him. Besides, in many places it is impossible to get, in time for use, either the official forecast or the weather map upon which to base one's own opinions, and under these conditions certain weather signs are of especial value—signs which every one uses to a greater or less extent, but with an understanding of their significance that, according to such experience as only real necessity can give, varies from the well nigh full and complete to the vague and evanescent.
Thus the fisherman to-day, as in the past, will weigh anchor and flee from the gathering storm when to the uninitiated there is no indication of anything other than continued fair weather; and the woodsman, as did his remotest ancestors, will note significant changes and understand their warning messages when the average man would see no change at all, or, if he did, would fail to comprehend its meaning.
The prescience of these men is phenomenal, and it is with some of the useful weather proverbs they know so well, the causes of the phenomena they describe and the relation of these phenomena to others they precede, that the following is concerned.
Naturally every one asks: "What of the coming season?" And especially is this an important question for the farmer, for a correct answer to it would tell him what crops to plant and where; whether upon hill or lowland, in light or heavy soil, and how best tothem—vital points, every one, for his success. But whatever we may hope ultimately to accomplish, seasonal forecasting to-day is beyond the pale of scientific meteorology, though proverb meteorology is full of it. However, a few of the seasonal proverbs that deal with results rather than types of weather are rationally founded.