Weather Prognostications

I actually got the idea for this post from a story I heard on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” about natural phenomena that folks use to predict the weather–you know, things like squirrels gathering up an unusual number of acorns or the width of the black stripe on the woolly bear caterpillar.

See full size image (Image courtesy of Google).

Now where I come from, the Woolly Bear (the larva of the Isabella Tiger moth, by the way) has its black stripe in the middle.  And the wider that black stripe, so the lore goes, the harsher the winter.

For amusement (since I am a trained amateur meteorogist) I did track the woolly bears for a few years–there really is no corrolation.  And science will tell you that the stripe is an indication of the maturity of the caterpillar, not the harshness of the winter.  But it’s a fun story.

A lot of folks swear by the  Old Farmer’s Almanac, which as been making weather predictions (or so it claims), since 1792.  Hindsight being 20/20, last year for the date of “Snowmageddon,” up and down the East Coast, it predicted rain and warmer than normal, and then sunny.   But of course, everyone can have an off year or two.

Just for the record, this year, for the same reason, it is predicting bitterly cold, but “average” precipitation overall.  For my region that still means almost 4′.  We’ll see.

And then there are the squirrels.  They’ve been having a field day with the acorns, which have been prolific this year!  So that would at least support the “bitterly cold” part of the prediction.  And at least one Accuweather meteorologist is going with this as well, but he is going for above record snowfall, at least for his part of the world, which is central Pennsylvania.

Finally there are a lot of “spider” predictions.  If spiders build their webs on shrubs and grass, we are  in for a spell of fine weather.  If they make tight webs, the weather is going to worsen.  This is all new to me so I’ll have to observe to see if there’s any truth to it.

I do know that the Farmer’s Almanac message board was full of early winter predictions in July and August because folks were seeing spiders coming into their homes.  Apparently folks don’t know much about spider behavior–spiders always come into the home in summer and fall.

But enough about this for one day–more tomorrow.


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