Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/454

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physiologist and the psychologist, such phenomena are of only secondary value as a popular means of weather prognostication. Besides, it is a method not assiduously cultivated—in fact, those who are provided with this particular means to a weather prescience would gladly be rid of it, while those who know it not believe in the old adage that says: "Where ignorance is bliss His folly to be wise."


Under this heading one could include a great variety of proverbs—mostly foolish. However, there are two causes, decrease in atmospheric pressure and increase in humidity, that have led to a number of well-founded proverbs, or rather accurate observations, for they are seldom jingled in the typical proverb manner.

Thus we find it stated that the approach of a storm is marked by the rising of water in wells, by the more abundant flow of certain springs, by the bubbling of marshes, by the bad odors of ditches and by various other phenomena, all of which are due to that decrease of atmospheric pressure that ordinarily precedes a storm.

The increase of humidity—favorable to precipitation—is noted by the gathering of moisture on cold objects, the collection of perspiration on our own skins owing to diminished evaporation, and the dampness of many hygroscopic substances. The last effect is illustrated by the packing of salt, the tightening of cordage and of strings of musical instruments, the dull or damp appearance of stone walls and columns, the settling of smoke, and by a number of other similar phenomena, all of which have been appealed to, with more or less justification, as evidence of a gathering storm.

Of course many other weather proverbs, of which those quoted in this article are typical, might be given and explained, but it is hoped that enough from each class have been justified to indicate their importance in all those cases and circumstances where, unfortunately, a weather service can not take the place of weather signs.