Weather News

Red sky in the morning, WA take warning

Ben Domensino, Wednesday June 17, 2020 - 12:22 EST

A red sunrise lit up the sky above Perth on Wednesday morning. But despite the picturesque start to the day, the colourful sky was a warning that unsettled weather is on the way.

The saying "Red sky at night, shepherd's delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning" is one of the most well-known weather proverbs around. Unlike some other popular weather lore, this one is actually quite accurate in some parts of the world.

Today's weather in Perth is a good example of why a red sky in the morning can be a warning that more ominous weather is on the way.

Image: Sunrise on the Matagarup Bridge on Wednesday morning. Source: @justtransfersperth / Instagram

Weather systems typically pass over the southern half of Australia from west to east. So when a rain-bearing cold front is heading for southwestern Australia, one of the first visible signs of its approach is a layer of high cloud moving in from the west. This high cloud is sometimes followed by lower and thicker rain or storm-bearing clouds during the next 1-2 days.

On Wednesday, high clouds were passing over Perth from the west as the sun was rising above the horizon to the east. This directional difference allowed light from the rising sun to shine beneath the approaching clouds and illuminate their bases, hence the colourful sky.

But while the sunlit high clouds made for a pleasant start to Wednesday in soutwestern Australia, satellite images revealed that storm clouds were also moving in from the Indian Ocean. 

Image: Visible satellite image showing high clouds over Perth and thicker rain-bearing clouds over the Indian Ocean shortly after sunrise on Wednesday.

These thicker clouds were associated with a cold front that will cause showers and thunderstorms in parts of southwestern Australia on Wednesday. A severe weather warning has also been issued for damaging winds from this system.

After a calm start to the day in Perth, conditions will deteriorate in the city this afternoon, fulfilling the prophecy of this morning's red sky.

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