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Predicting Winter

Blue Bird on IceThe summer weather seems to always get everyone talking about what kind of winter we need to be preparing for. It seems like everyone has their own little way of “predicting the future”. Read more to find out some of the more common methods.

One of the more popular weather-predicting tools is the wooly worm. I know you’ve seen these guys crawling across the yard or the road during the fall. They are fuzzy with brown and black stripes, and if you pick them up they curl into a ball to play dead. These wooly guys are actually the caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger Moth and will morph during the spring months, but back to the weather predicting stuff. 

It’s said the woollier the worm, the colder the winter. While it’s not an exact science to determine a very wooly worm verses a not so wooly worm, why kill someone’s enthusiasm!? It’s also been said, the more black and the darker the brown on the worm, the colder the winter.
There is actually a yearly festival dedicated to these wooly worms in Beattyville, Kentucky. At the festival, participants pay an entrance fee for their worm to participate in a race. Yes, a race of wooly worms! The winner of the race is used to make the official prediction of the winter forecast. Seems silly, but since the 1970s the worms have been accurate approximately 85% of the time. 

Moving from the ground up, Persimmon seeds are another source for winter forecasting. This method is quite simple and provides a little more detail than the wooly worms. Just cut a Persimmon seed in half and look at the shape on the inside. You will see a fork, spoon, or knife. It is sugested to cut open 10 seeds for best accuracy. The prediction is as follows:

    fork = a mild winter with a light dusting of snow
    spoon = lots of wet snow
    knife = icy cold winter (cuts through you like a knife)


Even if you don’t completely buy into all this folklore, it is fun to see just how accurate they really can be. But why stop at the worm and the seed? There is a whole list of things that people rely on to predict the winter weather. Here is a short version of that list:

  • Sandhill Cranes – the timing of their migration is supposed to give a prediction of how soon and how severe the winter will hit. 
  • Hornets’ Nest – The lower to the ground the colder the weather to expect. 
  • Spider Webs – The larger and more frequent spider webs are in the fall, the harsher the winter months will be.  
  • Corn Husk or Onion Skins – The thinner the milder the winter and vice versa. 
  • Fog – More commonly used in bay areas, the number of thick fog mornings in August and September will predict how cold the winter will be. 
  • Acorns – It is very common to hear people use the number of acorns produced to determine if it will be a bad winter. 


So now that you know how to do it, get out there and be a predictor of winter weather! Then, let me know what you think the coming months have in store for us on our facebook page 



Page Photo Credits — Blue Bird - aeller/usfws
Last Updated: Sep 19, 2013
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