Good Question: Is there any truth to the phrase, ‘Red sky at night is a sailor’s delight’

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Memorial Day weekend is upon us which means a lot of people will be getting their boats ready to go out on the lake.

In anticipation of boating season, one of you asked about an old adage and whether it’s accurate for predicting conditions on the water.

Sean writes: “Growing up on Lake Ontario as a kid, I always heard the saying ‘red sky at night is a sailor’s delight and red sky in morning sailors take warning’. Is this really true and an indicator of weather and lake conditions?”

First Alert Meteorologist Alex Bielfeld has the answer.

Emily Putnam, News10NBC: “So Alex, what do you think?”

Alex Bielfeld: “Honestly there is some truth to it and here’s the reason why. Typically with this saying, it’s with stormy weather and nice weather. So, with nice weather, we have high pressure that typically moves in at night. When a storm is rolling through, you’ll have high pressure to the west.”

“And within high pressure, air doesn’t like to rise. So what happens is dust particles get stuck in that level of the atmosphere and as the sun sets. The sun is stuck in that lower level of the atmosphere or at least it appears to be. So what happens is that sunlight reflects and refracts off those dust particles and creates that pink or reddish hue.”

“And then it’s flipped with the other saying when we have unsettled weather rolling in during the day. In the morning, high pressure is typically to the east where that sun will rise and then you have that stormy weather coming in from the west, so believe it or not, there is some truth to it.”

A red sky at night means high pressure to the west and nice incoming weather. A red sky in the morning means high pressure to the east and unsettled incoming weather.

Keep in mind, there are other factors that can cause that red color as well. If you are planning on taking the boat out on Lake Ontario for the holiday weekend, it’s supposed to be gorgeous and sunny, with clear blue skies and temperatures in the 70s. The water, however, will be very cold and closer to 40 degrees.

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