Is it true? The science of 'red sky at morning'

Posted at 8:51 AM, Nov 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-27 08:51:48-05

CINCINNATI -- We’ve all heard it -- the old adage saying that when the skies are red in the morning, sailors need to take warning.

If you missed Friday morning’s sunrise, it was spectacular. Clouds were covered in a stunning red glow, with orange and pink mixed in as well.

So is there any meteorological proof to the old saying, or is this just something we’ve become accustomed to saying? Does the red sky in the morning give us a good indication of poor weather soon?

PHOTOS: Red skies at morning, sailors take warning

Well, it actually turns out to be a pretty reliable predictor when inclement weather is heading our way.

Here’s the science behind the statement:

  • As high pressure moves to our east, storm systems to our west are able to move our way. We first notice an increase in high and mid-level clouds about a day before the storms arrive.
  • The day of a red sky in the morning, we begin to see not only high level clouds move in, but low level clouds as well.
  • When low clouds begin to show up, rain is not too far behind.

This morning’s clouds are all in association with a cold front that will bring rain to us as we head into the mid to late afternoon.

So as it turns out, this morning’s “red sky in the morning, sailors take warning” sentiment turns out to be a pretty good prediction of rain arriving in the Tri-State soon.

For the latest on science and the weather, check out Jason Adams on Twitter or head to the 9 First Warning section on

red sunrise

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