Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Winter Weather Forecast 2009-2010


Every Fall, I patiently (not so patiently) wait to read the article in the local newspaper which predicts our upcoming winter weather. For those of you not familiar with local lore and the weather predicting tradition, this is an old Appalachian tradition that has been practiced for generations, not only by Melinda Hedgecoth from Crab Orchard (who writes the article for the newspaper), but by most pioneer families of old, dating back to lore they learned from the Indians.

This old tradition is still practiced by many Appalachian people in our day and time. Basically, the old-timers didn't have Doppler radar and meteorologists to keep them informed of impending weather, so they had to learn to watch nature's signs around them to give them clues as to what to expect weather-wise.


Some of the signs to watch for:

-Watching for early morning fogs in August which indicate the number of snows; A heavy fog indicates a heavy snow, and a light one, a mild snow;
-Watching how high or how low the hornets build their nests; High means a mild winter and low, a bad winter;
-Watching the thickness of spider webs; When it's going to be a bad winter, there will be an abundance of spider webs.

-Looking at the thickness of bark on the trees; If the bark is thick and gnarly, it is going to be a bad winter.
-If the foliage on the trees is thick and hangs on long in the fall, it's going to be a hard winter.
-If the mast crop (hickory nuts, acorns, etc.) is particularly heavy, it is going to be a hard winter.

-If corn husks are thick, it will be a bad winter.

-If squirrels are busier than usual gathering nuts without chattering, it's going to be a bad winter.
-And of course, we cannot forget the wooly worms. If the wooly worms are solid black, that means a bad winter from beginning to end. If they are solid brown, that menas a mild winter. If they are black on both ends and brown in the middle, that means that the beginning and ending of winter will be bad, and there will be a mild spell in the middle.


Now---what does all of this mean for us and our upcoming winter here in middle Tennessee, on the Cumberland Plateau???? The wooly worms here have mostly been black on both ends and brown in the middle. And an abundance of wooly worms around (which we have had this fall) means a harsh winter ahead for us.


Our corn husks have been unusually thick this year and hornets have been building their nests CLOSER to the ground this year (about 8 feet rather than HIGH up in the trees). Both of these indicate a cold, cold winter. Also, yellow jackets are building their nests below ground this year which indicates a hard winter.


There's an abundance of acorns and hickory nuts again this year, not as many as last year--but enough to indicate a cold winter. Our Fall leaves are slow to drop this year---so that also predicts a cold winter.
A change in the weather usually comes on or near a full moon. The next full moon is Nov. 2. There are also two full moons in December.

Finally, the ones I am most interested in are the fogs in August. TWO large fogs were noted along with two smaller ones. One large and one small were at the beginning of August and the other large and the other small fog came at the end of the month... There were also two more 'faint' fogs in August--which denote blue darter snows (light dusting)---but it has to be VERY cold in order to get these types of snows. (Last year, we only had blue darter snows which went along with a cold winter. This forecast last year was 'right-on'.)


SO----Melinda sums our winter up by saying this: "Better bundle up for a cold one this year. It's looking like it might be a humdinger for cold with two heavy snows and two mild ones to watch for at the beginning and end of winter as well as a handful of blue darters thrown in. Take care and stay warm!"


I am not too excited to have the horribly cold temperatures ---but, for those of you who know me, I'm VERY excited to be able to see some snow this winter (I HOPE)... Last year, we got almost NONE ---so maybe this forecast will be fairly accurate and we will get some of those white flakes this winter....


Hugs,


-who must have been a Weather Girl in another life---since I'm fascinated by all of this stuff!!!

49 comments:

SquirrelQueen said...

I remember hearing most of those, and usually the predictions were fairly accurate.

We had way too much snow last year, in my opinion, so hopefully you will get all the snow you want this year and maybe ours will be lighter.

Hugs,
Judy

♥Kathy♥ said...

Last winter we ended up with one snow fall (8 inches) and one ice storm. I don't mind the snow that much but would hate to see another ice storm like we had here in December of 2007. Out local weather people should be coming out with their winter forcast soon.

Jayne said...

I LOVE all that weather lore, and like you, do put stock in it's accuracy! The animals just KNOW, don't they? :c) Thanks for sharing Betsy. We'll have to get out the long johns.

Shelley said...

I think based on your info above, I'm in for a very cold winter in Michigan too! Our leaves have been very slow to drop. I love the white stuff - just not when the temps drop down to freezing! We'll have to stock up on some hot chocolate!!
:-) sHELLEY

Beth said...

Oh dear, if the fogs in August here are an idication of how much snow we're going to get, we're in for it! We had heavy fog most mornings in August this year, so I guess we've got an abundance of the white stuff to look forward to. I wouldn't mind if I didn't have to drive in it. I grew up in Eastern North Carolina where we almost never had frozen precipitation, so I've never quite learned the fine art of driving in snow.

A really interesting post, Betsy!

Beth said...

Ooops, make that "indication." :-)

Tabor said...

I stopped by via Bob Watershed blog and when you mentioned Maggie Valley I had to read more. I was also there a few weeks ago for a short vacation. Love, love that whole area and enjoyed your photos.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

The only predictor I am familiar with is the wooly worm one. We call them Wooly Bears up here, and some towns even have an annual festival in the fall.

Jeff started steroids yesterday, so that is giving him some relief from the side effects. Thanks for asking.

amelia said...

Whatever is forecast, our winters always seem to be the same. Cold and snowy!!
We had way too much snow last winter so maybe we'll get a break and you'll get some snow this year!

Karin said...

I LOVE hearing this stuff - but I keep forgetting about it. Really nice reminder! I believe that all these observable signs in nature are quite accurate. Well, we're going west again this morning and they say it's snowing in Regina! Pray for us - I've got a cough and talk with a bass voice - otherwise ok!!
Hugs!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Looks like we are in for a warmer winter. That lifts my spirits;)
Marnie

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Maybe the pile of wood George has ready for winter also indicates a cold winter outside ,but toasty warmth inside.:)Sure hope you get lots of snow,but if you need more,come over for a visit in Dec.-Mar.
Blessings,Ruth

Peggy said...

I found a solid black wooly worm yesterday and told the grands that maybe we would have a cold snowy winter.... I want snow and lots of it! LOL

Susie said...

Wow! If those predictions come true you are going to be seeing lots of snow Betsy!

One of the guys at work the other day said he found a yellow jacket nest underneath the ground. Uh-oh, sounds like a cold winter for us too!

JLS Hall (Joysweb) said...

Interesting! We've had a couple of years now with hardly any acorns at all, and the last couple of winters have been very mild around here. So I'm on my way out to check the acorn crop for this year!

Tracey Hodge said...

I hope it's right - I'm ready for a real winter (last year stunk! way to warm for winter)!

SmilingSally said...

Since the map shows that we're in for a warmer winter, you and George should plan for a Florida vacation!

The Incredible Woody said...

Ooooo and I just moved into a house without a fireplace!!!

The Incredible Woody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darla said...

I learned most of these things from my grandparents and parents. We had an abudance of brown wooly worms at the end of summer and now we are seeing black ones here and there. Acorns are larger than normal. Squirrels are very busy...foggy, foggy, foggy!!! We will see. Mind if I copy this list to show my girls?

Jen said...

Any WINTER is cold to me.
I like all the predictions you listed, I think nature is probably the best predictor.

NCmountainwoman said...

"Horribly cold" is relative. You won't be horribly cold there. I would be happy enough if we had no snow this year. Had enough of that in WI to last a lifetime.

I love reading about the old "signs" which are often more accurate than the meteorologists with their fancy equipment.

Pam said...

All of this is so true, Betsy. I can remember my Grandmother reading the Farmers Almanac like it was a weather bible and most of the time it came true.
Betsy, If it gets to cold for you there just come over to my place and warm up :)
I hope you have rest up after all your journeys.

Snap said...

Fun post, Betsy. I figure all the weather *lore* is just as good (if not better than) the weatherman!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I did not know any of this stuff, but you know I am NOT a weather girl, but I still love Ya!
I laughed when I read about the wooly worms and Melinda saying the word: Humdinger. One of my favorite silly words.

I hope you get your snow wish!

Janie said...

I see we're in the above normal area, but the horses have thick coats already, so they think it's going to be cold. The meteorologists have trouble predicting day to day weather around here. I'm hesitant to believe any long term forecasts.
Good luck with your snow! We have an inch on the ground at the house today.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Betsy: When I read this I wonder what happened to Global Warming.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Bundle up Betsy! After watching our boys in the snow last week, I don't care if I EVER see snow again!! Just kidding! xoxo

Picture Imperfect said...

This was really fascinating! I've never heard most of these things; then again I live in the Great White North and we're pretty much guaranteed cold and snow; it's just a matter of when.

Snow on the ground this morning! And it's chilly out... but we're just getting started.

Bundle up and keep warm and I hope you get as much snow as you hope for!

Mary said...

What fun to read all this lore, Betsy--thank you! I also enjoy weather information, forecasting, and the wisdom of longtime local people. The wooly worms are the best of all :>) Keep us posted on whether these predictors prove to be accurate.

Thoughtfully blended hearts said...

Looks like most of TN will be very cold...and I've seen millions of dark wooly worms...but I didn't inspect them to see if they were solid or two toned :-)lol

SweetAnnee said...

I love all your weather knowledge.. the wooly caterpilars are black and brown
and the hickory and oaks have little to
offer.. Last year was a YARD FULL of nuts.

smiles, Deena

Mary said...

After the horrible ice storm last year, I won't be surprised at anything this year. Generally we have fairly mild winters.

Cheryl said...

Yay! The weather map shows a milder winter here in New England! We had so many acorns last fall dropping it was like a skating rink in places and we had a looonngg winter. Not so many acorns this fall but I saw a "wooly" the other day that was black on both ends and brown in the middle. I am ordering snow for just Christmas Eve and thats that!

Becca's Dirt said...

I too am fascinated by weather. I love a thunderstorm. I hope the weather will be cold enough to kill off the bugs this winter. Last year we had some good cold but not enough to kill off the bugs. Thanks for the insight into forecasting. Isn't it neat the changes in nature used to forecast the weather before dopplers.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This was so interesting! I read in the Farmer's Almanac that the middle of the country will ahve above adverage cold and the coasts would ahve a mild winter. My son lives in Denver, CO and they had a big snowstorm today! It's early for so much snow there.

Diane said...

I love the old lore and think it's probably as dead on as anything. But I'd like to know what a wooly worm is?

Neas Nuttiness said...

Oh Dear - I better get out my warm clothes because I'm in one of the Well Below Normal areas:-)

Tina said...

Betsy,
I do love all that "lore" but as you know..I could do w/o the freezing temps..and yea snow is nice and some is always welcomed but I also know you have to watch what you wish for..it's coming your way Betsy..get those shovels ready!! ;)

Shabby Cottage Shoppe said...

I'm not too far from you so I guess we better get out the long underwear, brrrrr :)
Gail

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Sorry your winter will likely be cold because of all those signs! But according to the map it look like my winter may be warmer than usual. Unfortunately that may also mean will have more snow than usual. Hmmmm.

Daisy said...

Betsy, I don't even want to think about winter!! UGH! You are welcome to any snow we get. I wouldn't care if I never saw another snow flake! HA! :D

Robert V. Sobczak said...

There's more truth to those signs that we'll ever know, although some get proved by science at some point ... others don't, but still remain true!

mountain.mama said...

I have a feeling I'll be shipping you some extra snow!

Sunny said...

I hear that we are suppose to get a lot of snow in our area. I'm not looking forward to it, to be honest. I hope and pray we don't get another ice storm like last winter...no power for 7 days!
Well I guess there's not much we can do about it, other than move to a warmer place, LOL!
Sunny :)
P.S. My mother could forcast the weather by her aches and pains, sometimes she was more accurate than the weather man!

Tes said...

Precious information, Betsy! Brr... I see that it's bound to be a brr. Would be nice to bundle up and sip cocoa...

Queen of Dreamsz said...

I really enjoyed reading this....I can remember my mom telling me some of this many moons ago. :0)

Steph

Small City Scenes said...

Yeah we have similar customs too nly we call 'wooley worms' Wooley bear caterpillars. LOL
Also if the horses grow a full winter coat we will have a hard winter. MB

Happily Retired Gal said...

Methinks you and my sister must be 'connected' because she 'digs' this stuph too! I have a friend currently traveling with her husband in your area in their RV. They're returning from connecting with South Carolina friends ... sight-seeing together in Michigan. While we're experiencing one of the driest years on record here in Southern California, they've had rain almost every day since they left home in early August and they're ready to come home as quickly as possible. Good thing George laid in all that wood to keep you guys warm!
Hugs and blessings,