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“When it rains, it pours.” As a meteorologist, I know this is not always the case – it can rain lightly.
I do love the old expression and it’s been around for a very long time. It’s commonly used to imply that when something bad happens, other bad things usually happen at the same time. Until a few years ago I didn’t think it had anything to do with the weather.
So, here’s a little background.
Of course, the proverb belongs to the unpredictable rainy weather but its origin is quite interesting. Believe it or not, the saying originated from the Morton Salt Company. They used it in an ad to sell salt. They were looking for a slogan that could promote their salt that poured freely even when the weather was damp. They first tried out "Even in rainy weather, it flows freely," but they thought it was too long.
The Morton Salt Company introduced the Umbrella Girl and slogan “when it rains, it pours” in the early 20th century.
I’d like to get back to salt for a moment.
Maybe it’s because we didn’t have Morton salt at home, but when the humidity was high, the salt shaker was almost useless. I can still see dad shaking as hard as he could to get salt to fall onto his steaming hot cob of corn. After a few seconds, mom would calmly take the shaker from dad’s hand, clear the plugged holes with a toothpick and hand it back to him. Without missing a beat, Grandma would lean in and say, ‘ I guess it’s going to rain tomorrow.’
Unlike pepper, table salt is hygroscopic, meaning because of the net positive charge of its chemical components, or ions, it can attract atmospheric water, which has a net negative charge. Traces of salt on the top of the shaker can, and often do, attract visible water.
Grandma says: “When the salt clogs the shaker, the weather will favour the umbrella maker!”
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Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network