Driving down the highway on the way to Penn State, we always pass a million cows. When the cows are lying down on the grass, my brother always says that it is going to rain because the cows can predict the weather. He says that they are saving a spot under them so that they have dry grass to eat after it rains. I always wondered if this was actually true, and if animals can predict the weather, so here is a blog on it!
This myth is a weather folktale that many people believe around the world. It is the belief that if cows are lying down on the grass, then it is about to rain. And if the cows are standing up, then the skies are going to be clear. This belief is thought to originate many years ago when weather radar’s didn’t exist. So people only had the environment to look for clues on what weather was to come.
Researchers at the University of Arizona wanted to find out if this was really true, so they put pedometers on the cows to see how much they got up and sat down. This study showed that the cows preferred to stand up when it is hot outside. When the cows are standing up, their body is more exposed to the cool air so they don’t overheat. When the weather cools down and when a storm starts to approach, cows are more likely to lie down. However, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, the cows lye down in the grass because they are eating their food and not saving a dry spot.
Besides cows, other animals are thought to be able to predict weather as well, like dogs and birds. Animals have different senses than us, which contribute to this. The most critical one is hearing. Animals can hear many sounds that people can’t here. Infrasonic’s are the low-pitched vibrations that are below 20 Hertz. Animals can also hear high-pitched sounds that we cant that are between 16 Hertz and 12,000 hertz. Cows specifically can hear up to 40,000 hertz. Only earthquakes and ocean waves produce those low infrasonic sounds, therefore only animals can hear them.
Researchers believe that animals like elephants can detect an earthquake earlier than other animals because of its large feet. Their feet can sense the shockwaves in the ground way before any other animal. They feel the vibrations under them that let them know they need to get to safety.
Additionally, animals can sense changes in air and water pressure. Hurricanes cause a decrease in both of these pressures and the animals’ notice. When they sense a hurricane or tsunami, they escape quickly.
To certify this, researchers observed a group of sharks. The researchers tracked the movement of the sharks during the storm Gabrielle and the hurricane Charlie. Once the air and water pressure dropped before the storm, the sharks swam deeper in the water where there is greater protection.
In conclusion, it is very unlikely that animals can predict the weather. However, it is certain that they are able to sense signals from the environment way before humans can.