Can Animals Predict the Weather?

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.


9 thoughts on “Can Animals Predict the Weather?

  1. Mitchell Seth Korzen

    This is a very interesting post and a topic that I have never thought about before. I agree with you that the animals most likely cannot predict weather, but is there a possibility that they do? If they cannot what do their tendencies mean when laying in the grass or not? Observations can be made watching these animals to see where these tendencies come from and if there is any real purpose to what these cows are doing. This topic is quite interesting and many different routes can be taken from this.

  2. Kelsey Donehower

    I found this post really interesting. My mom used to have a dog that used to get deathly afraid around an hour before a thunderstorm. He would start shaking and crying because he could hear a storm coming from a mile away. Like you said dogs have very good hearing and can usually hear the storm coming. I also read in an article on that dogs can sense the barometric pressure that happens when the weather will change. The article also included that in terms of a thunderstorm, dogs can feel the vibrations that the thunder produces. These are not scientifically backed up, but they are some things to think about. I liked how you included the drive to Penn State in your article… its always a good drive!!

  3. Dongyuan Li

    Hi, I really agree that animal can predict weather even disaster. In my hometown if you saw ant moving home or swallow fly really low it means rain will coming. Several decades ago, before an earthquake happen to my country lots of people saw birds flying away and snake going up to high mountain. Even before the Indonesia tsunami lots of elephants refused to walk with tourists along the sea shore instead they took them up to mountain and save a lots of people’s life. According scientists they think the animals use their senses better than human. They can hear earthquake wave and sense the change of water pressure. For more reasons please watch this video

  4. Briana Michelle Wright

    Very interesting! I presume a rational person would trust an animal’s actions to know when danger is approaching. I think another interesting study would be is there any other species that receives so kind of intuition about the weather?

  5. Dean Giammarco

    Interesting post, this is something I always wondered about. I always believed my dog new when the weather was going to be bad because before a large storm my dog would be very frantic and usually sleep under the dining room table. This is correlational because this has happened a handful of times and only when very large storms like hurricanes come in the area. And for now we can only stick to an observational experiment leading to no causation to why behavior and weather over lap sometimes.

  6. Joseph Zaccaria

    I found this to be pretty cool. Some studies were done that birds can possibly detect severe storms ahead of time. I also never heard the myth about cows or dogs predicting weather and i think that is pretty interesting as well. I would’t rule out the possibility that the animals can predict weather just yet because studies are very hard to do with these types of experiments and could be a long time before anyone actually knows the truth behind it all.

  7. Tiffany Fu

    I really enjoyed reading this post about how animals can predict the weather. I found it an interesting topic because I have heard theories about this prior to reading this post and I thought that it was a good point you mad that elephants have such big feet that they can probably sense shock waves in our earth before us humans can, being able to detect an earthquake. Overall, your blog post was very well written and I want to be able to find out more about this topic in the future. I liked the different examples of animals that you’ve researched. Here’s another link that I found that was interesting relating to your article.

  8. Shannon G Mcclain

    I have always heard that animals are able to predict the weather, but through these observational studies, we see that they are instead able to sense weather changes or extreme environmental events. This correlation between their reaction and bad weather makes it seem like they are able to predict when bad things will occur. Are they aware that they are doing this? Certainly not, but by observing these animals more we will be able to have a better sense of their abilities. An experiment to test such a thing would be pretty difficult considering we cannot mimic most environmental changes, so we must stick to observations.

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