The results are in! Punxsutawney Phil predicts more winter!
Well, not the most accurate way to predict winter weather as dear Phil is right less than half the time. But there are ways to determine if a winter will be light and easy, or cold and frosty. The best thing is, you do not need a degree in meteorology to predict a hard winter.
Do you remember reading, “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder?
Laura’s father first sensed that the season would be severe when he was harvesting hay and he saw the thick mud walls of a muskrat house.
“Pa was shaking his head. “We’re going to have a hard winter,” he said, not liking the prospect.
“Why, how do you know?” Laura asked in surprise.
“The colder the winter will be, the thicker the muskrats build the walls of their houses,” Pa told her. “I never saw a heavier-built muskrats’ house than that one.””
By the power of observation of the signs offered by nature, we may better understand what we are in for, for the upcoming season.
A wonderful friend of Ray Geiger’s, Cleveland weather guru, Dick Goddard, put together a laundry list of these “signs” of nature that can predict a harsh winter ahead. We featured these in the 1978 Farmers’ Almanac, and it is still relevant today.
Here are the 20 Signs of A Hard Winter:
- Thicker than normal corn husks
- Woodpeckers sharing a tree
- Early arrival of the Snowy owl
- Early departure of geese and ducks
- Early migration of the Monarch butterfly
- Thick hair on the nape (back) of the cow’s neck
- Heavy and numerous fogs during August
- Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands
- Mice eating ravenously into the home
- Early arrival of crickets on the hearth
- Spiders spinning larger than usual webs and entering the house in great numbers
- Pigs gathering sticks
- Insects marching in a line rather than meandering
- Early seclusion of bees within the hive
- Unusual abundance of acorns
- Muskrats burrowing holes high on the river bank
- “See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest”
- Narrow orange band in the middle of the Woollybear caterpillar warns of heavy snow; fat and fuzzy caterpillars presage bitter cold
- The squirrel gathers nuts early to fortify against a hard winter
- Frequent halos or rings around the Sun or Moon forecast numerous snow falls.
What are you seeing in your backyard?
Find out what Farmers’ Almanac is predicting this winter here.