x
Breaking News
More () »

Yes, a halo around the sun or moon could mean rain or snow coming soon

It’s not a guarantee, but the halo or ring you occasionally observe around the sun or moon could forebode inclement weather.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It's that time of year a meteorologist can't even go to the supermarket without getting the question, "When is it going to snow?"

Of course, asking a trusted source is the best way to get accurate weather information. But, for centuries, people have relied on folklore and observations to predict pending weather.

RELATED: No, the woolly bear caterpillar can’t predict the upcoming winter, but it does indicate the harshness of the last one

THE QUESTION

Viewer Walter Overman from Kernersville recently submitted this picture, showing a beautiful halo framing the sun on a nice fall day.

Credit: WFMY News 2

That brings us back to a claim viewer Joanne Vaden submitted a couple years ago.

She wrote, "I see a ring around the moon. My grandma always said that is a sign of bad weather."

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

The claim can be true. A ring around the sun or moon does forebode potentially-bad weather, but it certainly does not guarantee snow.

WHAT WE FOUND

Meteorologist Christian Morgan said, "The ring around the moon doesn't always mean snow, but it can mean there's some active or maybe bad weather on the way."

The reason for the truth behind this claim rests high within the clouds.

He explained the ring appears when the sun or moon refracts ice crystals, which typically make up high cirrus clouds. When those clouds move in during the winter, especially ahead of a low pressure system, it could mean snow, rain or some other active weather is coming.

Just like a rainbow, how you see the halo is personal. The halo you see is from both refraction and reflection. The Earth Sky organization explains the crystals have to be oriented and positioned with respect to your eyes, in order for you to see it. That is why your friend across town might not observe the same halo you do.

SOURCE OF THE CLAIM

So, where did this theory originate? The Farmer's Almanac said it goes back centuries to 'weather lore' and the phrase, "A ring around the sun or moon means rain or sun is coming soon." 

In this case, the 'old wives' were somewhat accurate in their tale. Just don't put too much stake in it when planning for a snow day.

RELATED: Yes, the sky really is ‘bluer’ in the fall

RELATED: Yes, the 'dirty side' of a hurricane is most dangerous