Predicting thunder by looking into the water at the beach?

posted in: Bushcraft, Knowledge, skills, Survival | 1

– a story from my childhood

It was a clear sunny day when my mom took me to the beach many years ago. I was about 8 years old I believe and all I thought about, was playing in the sand and swimming.

My mom was standing in the edge of the water when this old lady comes up to us. “It’s going to be thunder” she tells my mom. “Look into the water” she continued. “When the bottom swirls up like this, and the water becomes turbid, it’s going to be thunder”.

We looked into the water and it was indeed turbid, as if someone had just walked through it and swirled up the sand from the bottom. Except no one had.

I don’t know how the lady saw us, but I remember talking to my mom about her like she was a bit crazy. It was a clear blue sky, there wasn’t a wind and the sun was shining. Nothing, and I mean nothing indicated that the weather was about to change. We swept it away as an indifference and stayed at the beach for a little less than an hour or so.

We drove back to our house which was about 5 minutes away from the beach. My mom went to make us some late lunch, when the impossible happened; a thunder in the distance! We looked at each other with disbelief. And then there was another one. The lady was right. Our view on the her had put us to shame. And since then we talked about her with admiration instead.

Since then I have actually experienced it myself. One time swallows were also flying low and it was much more obvious, looking at the sky, that the weather was about to change. And the water was turbid.

Have you heard of this?
I wonder however, has anyone else heard of this? Please comment or email me if you have. I have looked, but I haven’t been able to find anything about it on the internet yet. Maybe it’s a local thing? Or maybe I’m seeing something that isn’t there? In that case the lady was crazy, and it was all a lucky strike. If I’m right however, maybe you should try looking into the water the next time you’re on a sandy beach.


  1. Michala

    Suggestions for explaining the two observations at approaching thunder :

    – Bubbles in the water are due to gasses from the continuous biological processes being released when the atmospheric pressure drops above the water surface, until then gasses were trapped as extremely tiny bubbles in the sediment and underwater vegetation

    – Swallows are hunting insects and catching them inflight with an open beak, and when weather conditions are getting bad for insects it improves their survival to seek cover in the vegetation – this can be observed by their predators, the swallows, also flying low

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