Weather lore: mares' tails and mackerel scales

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- In a Facebook live chat, Michaela Martin asked about an ol’ weather saying, “Mares’ tails and mackerel scales make tall ships carry low sails.”

Mares’ tails and mackerel scales refer to different clouds types. They’re both supposed to indicated changing weather patterns.

The mares’s tails are a hooked shaped thin, high cloud made up of ice crystals, called Cirrus Uncinus. These are shaped by upper winds and can signal an approaching front as the flow in well ahead of the rain clouds.

Mackerel scales are really a category of transition within the clouds. Cirrocumulus are a rippling pattern of clouds that can look similar to fish scales. This is when the clouds are starting to become thicker and lower, as changing weather gets closer.

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