Tourists walk past the "Big Ben" in snow in central London, Britain, on Jan. 13, 2017. (Xinhua/Han Yan)
LONDON, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Nearly two-thirds of people in Britain believe cows laying down on the grass is a sign it's about to rain.
It is just one of many folklore beliefs many British people have used over generations to gauge the weather. Meteorologists at the Met Office put the beliefs under the microscope, and gave their verdict Tuesday.
It seems some old-fashioned methods of predicting the forthcoming weather turned out to be true.
Over 60 percent believe cows really do lie down when it's about to rain, while three-quarters of the British public have used folklore such as "red sky at night, shepherd's delight" to predict the weather.
"The British public's fascination with the weather is well-known. We found in a new survey that the use of these sayings was more prevalent than expected, with three quarters of UK adults saying they use folklore to predict the weather," said a spokesman for the Met.
The most commonly-used were revealed to be: Red sky at night, shepherd's delight, used by 70 percent of UK adults. It can be too cold to snow used by 49 percent, Cows lie down when it is about to rain used by 44 percent, and pine cones open up when good weather is coming, used by 26 percent.
And almost a quarter believe the claim that if it rains on St Swithin's Day, July 15, it will rain on each of the next 40 days.
In total, 58 percent of UK adults think that these methods are accurate to some degree, and incredibly, almost two thirds think they can be more reliable than official forecasts.
However, nearly half of UK adults who have used traditional methods to predict the weather say they have been "caught out".
Met Office meteorologist Charlie Powell, who investigated the science behind the folklore, said: "We were blown away by just how many people use traditional methods to forecast the weather. However, some of these weather sayings are backed up by science and can help to give a sense of what sort of weather may be on its way. Others, such as cows lying down when it is about to rain, are nothing more than old wives' tales."
"But either way, none of the methods are as accurate as official forecasts and the research demonstrates that many people have been caught out by relying on weather folklore," added Powell.
So which of the folklore methods are based on science and which are simply myths?
Red sky at night, shepherd's delight, meaning good weather, is according to the Met Office, largely correct. This is because high pressure tends to lead to good weather. High pressure traps dust and dirt in the air, which scatters blue light, only leaving the red light remaining, hence the reddish appearance of the sky.
Can it be too cold to snow, or cows laying down when it is about to rain? Both untrue, says the Met, saying there is no scientific backing for the cow folklore. Cows lie down for a number of reasons, including just having a rest, and there is no evidence to suggest it is related to the likelihood of rain.
Pine cones opening up when good weather is coming is a sign of good weather, says the Met.
The rhyming weather predictor "rain before seven, fine by eleven" is often correct, says the Met, adding that weather systems in Britain are often spawned in the Atlantic and can sweep across very quickly.
So, on many occasions, four hours will allow enough time for the rain to pass, adds the official weather forecaster. But the rain may linger if there is no wind to move the rain clouds quickly.