Colder temperatures, falling leaves, and frosty starts: fall is here and it not only looks like it, but it is feeling like it too.
With the change in the weather we also notice that familiar honking sound in the sky as geese form the classic “V” shape and start working on their migration to warmer weather. Can these flying geese forecast the weather?
Here in northeast Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania we are saturated with Canada Geese.
Fun Goose fact – Not all Canada geese fly south for the winter in our region. Some stay year round.
You typically hear the honking of these flying “V” shaped formations before you see them. They fly toward the south in the fall, and then north in the Spring.
How high do Canada geese fly?
The geese fly at different levels of the atmosphere but tend to average an altitude of around 3,000 feet. They can travel much higher, and much lower.
Their flying height depends on several factors including weather and air pressure.
How does weather impact the height of flying geese?
As you would expect wind and precipitation would impact any flying goose. You may not expect the air pressure to influence the flight. Air pressure actually plays a role in the birds optimum flying level.
Decreasing air density reduces the bird’s ability to produce the lift and thrust required to maintain flight causing them to drop down to find more dense air to give them a lift. They will change their flight level to make it easiest for them to fly exerting the least amount of energy to provide the lift needed to stay in flight.
How does a goose fly?
A goose can fly because it has the ability to create lift above its wings by flapping them creating force.
Without going into the deep physics involved in the process, it is known that a goose creates lift by flapping its wings. The wings create forced air below the wing and the opposite reaction above the wing creates the lift the goose needs to fly.
This is all explained with Newtons Third Law of Motion that states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
The goose’s ability to fly is impacted by air pressure and its direct relation to air density. It can make it easier, or harder, to fly.
A weather proverb states “If the goose honks high, fair weather. If the goose honks low, foul weather.”
Weather lore and proverbs are fun to look at through the year. Some are true and make sense, and some are not even close to the truth.
This weather proverb does have some truth to it as there is a relation to a goose’s ability to fly easier in their optimum air pressure.
Is this weather proverb true?
High pressure systems typically will bring better weather as the atmospheric pressure increases as the airmass moves into a region.
Low pressure systems typically produce unsettled weather and decease in air pressure as you approach the center of the low.
Again, this a general observation of each pressure system. There are many variables that can influence good, or bad, weather with each.
Back to the goose flying high or low. The proverb says if the goose honks high there will be fair weather. This would indicate that the goose is flying high in the sky.
If there is fair weather, you would assume that there is high pressure around generally speaking. Geese like to fly in air that is optimal for there maintenance of flight. They tend to flight higher to find that level.
There is a direct relation to air density and air pressure. Simply speaking, the higher the pressure, the higher the density if the temperature remained constant. There is also a height/altitude relation to higher or lower density air in the atmosphere.
When air density is decreased it will reduce the amount of lift and thrust that the goose needs to hold their altitude. They will move up, or down to find their preferred flying level.
So, to make this simple, the goose will fly higher near a high pressure system because the density of the air that suits them best is higher in the sky. The goose will fly lower in low pressure as the density of the air that suits them best is lower in the sky.
This is a fun weather proverb and is used with caution as other variables within a high and low pressure system can create a different outcome in the weather on any given day.
You can always get the latest forecast with Storm Team 27 here.