weather wise

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The Independent Online
GUTEN Tag! Were there blizzards in Berlin yesterday? Or was it fine in Frankfurt? I have just been reading Bauern-Regeln - Aus meteorologischer Sicht (Farmers' rules from a meteorological perspective), by Horst Malberg, published by Springer Verlag, and it makes me wonder how we have got by so long with only "April showers bring May flowers" to rely on.

The book lists over 400 old farmers' wives' tales about the weather, and analyses whether they receive any support from science or statistics. Rule 182, for example, says: "Wenn's (viel) regnet am Amantiustag (8 April), ein durrer Sommer folgen mag." - in less Teutonic words, if it rains more than average on 8 April, then a dry Summer may follow. Apparently this one has a good track record: when the rainfall in Germany has been above average on 8 April, the months of June to August have been drier than usual in 66 per cent of cases.

The other one in three cases have presumably chosen to follow the alternative rule 179: Wie's im April und Maien war, so wird das Wetter im ganzen Jahr (As the weather is in April and May, so will it be for the whole year). But we should not forget rule 21: Der April ist ein launischer Gesell, bald ist er trub, bald ist er hell (April is a capricious fellow, sometimes he's cloudy, sometimes he's bright.)

We have "red sky at night", "cast not a clout", St Swithin's Day and a host of others, but the Germans still seem to have a distinct edge on old weather saws. Vorsprung durch Bauernregeln, I call it.