Winter Guestimates…

Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster …

What kind of winter weather will we have?

If you check with all the usual sources of information, you get almost as many different guesses.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac says we’ll have a cold and snowy winter in southern Indiana.

The Farmer’s Almanac will be “cold and very flaky”.

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the National Weather Service predict it will be warmer and wetter than normal.

The Weather Channel calls for near normal temperatures and precipitation.

All agree that La Nina` will impact weather for us and that normally means colder and wetter conditions in this part of the Midwest.

Typically, we in southern Indiana can see about 10 days of snowfall in the winter totaling about 16 inches.

That being said, lots of people like to consider other sources for the winter weather outlook,

The Farmer’s Almanac offered an article called “20 Signs of a Tough Winter”.

) Thicker than normal onions or corn husks and apple skins.

2) Hornet’s nests that are higher than usual.

3) The snowy owl arrives early.

4) The geese and ducks depart early.

(I really don’t care when the geese leave; I wouldn’t mind if they just stayed where they flew to.)

5) Frequent halos or rings around the sun or moon foretell numerous snowfalls.

6) Woodpeckers sharing trees means a rugged winter.

7) Heavy and numerous fogs in August indicate a tough winter is coming.

8) If the monarch butterflies head south early, it will be a bad winter.

9) An abundance of acorns and walnuts.

(I thought that meant you had more oak or walnut trees.)

10) When crickets show up on your hearth early.

(Maybe you need better weather-stripping.)

11) Watch for pigs gathering sticks. Cold and snow is coming.

( They’re not planning to roast marshmallows!)

12) Another forecaster of a rough winter is spiders spinning larger-than-usual webs and coming indoors in greater numbers.

(I’ve walked through a large number of spider webs this year and if spiders come indoors, my wife’s radar will let me know.)

13) Ants marching in lines rather than meandering.

14) Bees heading for the hives sooner can be a bad winter weather sign.

15) When muskrats burrowing holes are higher than normal along river banks, it means a hard winter is coming.

16) The more mice getting into your home is a sign cold and snow is coming./

17) Check the hair on the nape of a cow’s neck. If it’s thick, that indicates a tough winter is a’comin’.

(I wonder if dairy farmers have seen a lot of nape-checking city folk this year?)

18) A narrow orange band on the wooly bear caterpillar predicts a snowy winter.

(I didn’t see many wooly bears this fall…Were they stuck in cargo container ships?)

19) Squirrels extra busy gathering nuts? Expect more snow that winter.

20) If you notice raccoons with thick tails and brighter bands, be prepared for a rugged winter.

I also know folks who swear by persimmon seeds.

Cut them in half and if the white mark resembles a knife, it will be very cold.

A fork shape indicates a mild winter.

If that white mark looks like a spoon, it can mean lots of snow but the further south you go, it’s more liokely to mean a mild winter.

Others say taller summer weeds are a sign of a snowy winter on the way.

If the berry crop was superb this year, you should look for cold and snowy conditions.

Of a more practical prediction, since fuel prices are soaring, it only seems natural to expect colder-than-normal weather this winter.

I should probably check my show thrower.

\If it starts on the first pull, I’ll probably never need it this winter.

However, if it never starts after a dozen tugs, I’ll guarantee snow that’s butt deep to a tall farmer this winter.

Now, if you’re a “weather nerd” like me, the National Weather Service says you can get an accurate snowfall measurement this winter by using a “snow board” or a yard stick.

A “snow board” should be a half-inch or three-quarter inch piece of plywood at least 24 inches by 16 inches and placed in your yard in a relatively level spot, away from trees, and buildings. Paint it white or some other light color and mark the 4 corners with stakes. When it snows, take a measurement and then relocate the snowboard on top of the snow so you’re ready for the next wintery blast.

Now, and I prefer this method.

Grab your yard stick and take random measurements around your property, away from drifts, buildings and beneath trees. Add your measurements and divide by the number of times you poked into the snow and you’ll have a good measurement.

Your picnic table or deck can also be a good places to accurately measure snowfall.

So, what’s this winter gonna be like?

I’m not really sure.

My guess is, we’ll get some good snowfalls.

If you catch my drift

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