Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Rain

My life in appalachia - Cloud Burst

We’ve finally been getting rain on a more regular basis here in Wilson Holler. Seems like for most of the summer-the evening storms and showers that frequented the area would miss us in favor of moving through Murphy and on up to the Andrews area.

Last night I was awakened by a humdinger of a rain storm. No wind-just constant lightning, thunder, and heavy rain. As I lay in the bed and listened to the rain drum our metal roof I was reminded of a story a man named Junior once told me.

It was back in the day when I worked at Lake Logan-which was a meeting facility of Champion International. After a particularly heavy rain, Junior, who had lived above the lake most of his life, told me about an awful cloud burst that happened when he was a child. He said there was a cloud burst way up on the mountain and the people below had no warning of the flood it was sending down the headwaters of the Pigeon River.

I’ve heard of cloud bursts my whole life. I’ve also heard heavy rains described as: a frog strangler, raining cats and dogs, a gully washer, and even the off color one The Deer Hunter uses-it’s raining like pouring pee out of a boot.

But one I’ve never heard is listed in the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English:

*Little Noah noun – a heavy rainstorm.

Have you ever heard the phrase little Noah used to describe a heavy rain?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    July 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    “Boys, now you need to get inside cause it’s fixin’ to rain like two cats a fightin’.”
    This quote seems to be a mixed metaphor or something like that.
    I’ve heard “it’s dark as two cats a’fightin.” Still don’t know what that means either.
    Recently I remembered an old saying of my mother’s.
    “That boy hasn’t got the sense to bell a goose.” Is this an Appalachian saying? I think it comes from old England when they did actually bell a goose.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 21, 2012 at 8:42 am

    The first TV we ever had, had come from a TV shop in Franklin that had been flooded. The set worked just fine when we could “get a picture”. When it finally gave up, me and Harold opened it up to try to fix it and it still had mud inside.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    July 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Stephen, my husband uses that expression all the time when it is raining really hard. I have heard of all the ones you noted, but not the Noah one. However, I think it has its roots in the bible when the great flood happened.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    July 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I have never heard of a Little Noah but I like it! I have heard all the rest especially the one about the cow and the flat rock. Here’s one from Forrest Gump when he was describing all the rain in Vietnam,”And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath.” It looks like we might get a toad strangler here later on today!
    Have a great weekend!

  • Reply
    Dale Anderson
    July 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Love the expression “little Noah”. Never heard it before but love the biblical reference.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    had never heard of “little Noah”—but, I, too know of the cow expression Stephen and Don C. wrote about.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Morning Tipper!
    It was a “righteous rain” last night here too!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I’m very familiar with the Deer
    Hunter’s saying about rain. And
    I say it came a “young Noah” when
    it comes a downburst and starts
    flooding. Way back in the 30’s,
    before I was even thought about,
    my parents had a cloudburst and
    they escaped in the middle of the
    night with 3 of my older brothers.
    They lost everything…Ken

  • Reply
    July 20, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Whatever it is, we are having one right now in Seattle!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 20, 2012 at 10:23 am

    “Fell a flood” was mentioned at our family reunion last Sunday.
    Around 1940, there was what Pearl Cable called a water spout in Coots Cove, on the east side of Pilkey Creek basin. It was a very localized pouring (Pearl didn’t recall it even raining at their house, less than a mile away) which completely decimated the area, washing away homes, Mae Posey’s mill, and the bridge below the mill. A dead cow was left hanging up in a tree more than ten feet off the ground. The swath it cut appears to have been close to 100 ft wide in places, leaving nothing other than rocks in its wake. This is on a feeder stream which a 60 year old feller wearing a backpack can normally jump across.
    In early September of 1951, there was a washout event over on the TN side where a wall of water came down the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River in Gatlinburg and carried cars downstream.
    Good thing neither of these events happened recently – they’d surely have been the result of global warming 😉

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    July 20, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Tipper, I haven’t heard little Noah, but all the rest are commonly used here. My daddy used to say ‘the bottom fell out’.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Never heard of little noah…but have heard most of the rest…Have heard it rained so hard that the ducks were in boats!
    Now then, would that mean after a heavy hard rain, one could go barefooted the next morning and not get dew poisoning!
    Thanks Tipper, Just pondering!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I’ve heard most of the sayings about rain. There was one I used to hear concerning an impending hard rain. Granny used to say (and I was never really sure of the mechanics ), “Boys, now you need to get inside cause it’s fixin’ to rain like two cats a fightin’.” I suppose she meant when two male cats were competing for the attention of a female that they would spit at one another alot. I suppose the amount of spitting would be directly proportional to the desirability of the female. That is about as good a G-rating description as I can say.

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    July 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Hadn’t heard of Little Noah, but all the others are familiar. Sure need some of that good old rain out here on the edge of the plains. The corn crop is firing and curling bad, probably too far gone for help.

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    July 20, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Ah HA! Stephen, that’s the one I was going to tell. We, too, finally got some rain after a terrible summer. I’ve been a waterin fool with my first-ever tomatoes and all my hummingbird flowers; but I feel so terrible for the farmers up here in Michigan. First almost all the fruit crops (cherries, apples, peaches, blueberries) got wiped out by a early thaw then a late hard freeze. Then we’ve had terrible drought and terribly high temperatures. (Michigan isn’t supposed to ever get much over 90 – and that’s rare – let alone over 100.) Crops and livestock have taken a terrible hit. So glad that there has been a little rain relief past couple of days.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2012 at 9:20 am

    I am so glad that you are getting rain in your area. We got some much needed rain last week and already could stand some more. I have never heard the expression Little Noah before, but I have heard all the others used here. I love the sound of the rain falling and even the rumbling of the thunder and flashes of light from the lightning. I snuggle down under the covers and feel so snug and safe.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 20, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Tipper–I’ve never heard of a “Little Noah,” but I’ve heard “it fell a flood” many times. I also like the saying, common in Graham County, to the effect “it could fall a rain out of a hornet’s nest on Big Snowbird” (or substitute the creek of your choice). The concept is, of course, that even a tiny dark cloud can produce a rain.
    Other than Little Noah, I’m familiar with all the descriptors you mention (although I think you exericsed a bit of political correctness and bowdlerized the Deer Hunter’s saying just a bit–if you don’t know the word bowdlerize, maybe I’ve helped your vocabulary and that of others just a tad. There’s a similar one about an anatomically freakish cow releasing urine on a flat river rock.
    On a slightly different track, is there anything more soothing that the sound of a good rain on a tin roof? I’ve often thought that the folks who make those sound machines offering “white noise” to aid in sleeping were missing a great bet by not having a recording of rain on a tin roof. I’ll take it over surf; soft winds whispering their unchanging yet ever changing song; or even over a magically musical mountain creek.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    July 20, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I have never heard of little Noah being used to describe a heavy rain not the phrase that the deer hunter uses but I have heard the other ones used especially it’s raining cats and dogs.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 20, 2012 at 8:18 am

    That’s a new one to me Tipper.

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    July 20, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Rain is a great soother. It is best when you don’t have to work in it, but as I get older, it is always welcome. But I have also learned that too little or too much of anything isn’t good. We called them gully washers.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Never heard of a little Noah. Folks around here sometimes refer to heavy rain as gully washers or frog stranglers. We had a hard rain here last night too.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 20, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Never heard Little Noah before, but heard all of the others plus a few others that I can’t share.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2012 at 6:45 am

    I’ve heard of all that you have mentioned plus an old one: it’s raining harder than a cow peeing on a tin roof. Never could wrap my mind around that one but as kids we all thought it was funny.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 20, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Want to read about a little rain? Here is a link to a story I would have been right in the middle of 96 years ago.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 20, 2012 at 6:11 am

    I too opted to pay a little more and get a metal roof. Not because it is supposed to last longer than I am, but for the mornings when God plays his music. Granted, there is much more insulation between me and it than when I used to listen to it as a child, but still I can hear it well enough that I have to force myself out of the bed. I wonder what they would think if I called work and said “Hey it’s raining, I have a metal roof and I can’t get up”

  • Reply
    Stephen Ammons
    July 20, 2012 at 4:41 am

    I am glad yall finally good some much needed rain. Now isn’t it heavenly to wake up to the sound of rain on a tin roof? I run the ceiling fan in my bedroom year around because the sound of it reminds me of the sound of rain.
    I have never heard of a Little Noah, but if i may add one expression for heavy rain one of my favorites is Raining like a cow peeing on a flat rock.
    Hoping you all a blessed day.

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