Wednesday, October 28, 2009
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....
-who must have been a Weather Girl in another life---since I'm fascinated by all of this stuff!!!