Weather Wise: Winter weather prediction folklore

Posted at 5:39 PM, Nov 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-01 17:39:58-04

CINCINNATI -- We’re entering the heart of the autumn season and you’ve probably started noticing a lot of long term winter forecasts flooding your Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Most of these forecasts from official sources, such as the National Weather Service, are based off of scientific indices, longterm historical data and current weather trends. It’s a new science and it isn’t incredibly accurate, but it does give some idea of what sort of winter we can expect.

You might have also heard of some other, less scientific ways to foresee what this upcoming winter season has in store. I’ve compiled the 9 most common folklore winter forecasting methods to tell you what kind of winter we can expect here in the Tri-State.

  1.  Wooly bear caterpillars: Arguably the most common folklore this time of year. “The thicker and more black bands the caterpillar has, the more severe the winter will be, whereas more of the rusty orange color would indicate a milder winter.” I’ve seen three of the wooly worms with my own eyes… two had an average of a little over 5 orange bands and one was completely black. FORECAST: HARSH WINTER. 
  2. Leaves: “When leaves fall while still green or when leaves change color early, the winter will be mild.” Have not seen too many green leaves on the ground (<10%) and our color peak was average, if not late compared to normal. FORECAST: COLD WINTER.
  3. Hedge apples: “If the hedge apples fall late or if there are more hedge apples compared than normal, a cold and snowy winter will follow.” We had both late falling hedge apples and more than normal. FORECAST: COLD AND SNOWY WINTER.
  4. Robins: “If Robins are spotted close to houses during the fall, a harsh winter will follow.” Haven’t seen too many robins at all, honestly. Sherry has seen a few, but they’ve been away from her home. Unfortunately, this was the only one old wives’ tale out of our 9 that might hint at a warmer winter. FORECAST: MILD WINTER.
  5. Persimmon Seeds: “When the seeds are split in two, they reveal different shapes inside, either a spoon, knife or fork, indicating different winters.” The knife indicates a winter that will “knife through you,” or that it will be very cold. A spoon indicates a “shoveler” of a winter with a lot of snow and a fork is more indicative of a mild or normal winter according to folklore. My parents gave me 10 seeds and 7 out of 10 had a spoon shape with the other 3 being a knife. FORECAST: MOSTLY SNOWY, COLD/HARSH WINTER.
  6. Apple Skins: “The thicker the skin, the colder the winter.” I had some apples for a snack the other day. I found the skins to be especially tough, but couldn’t verify the apple’s origin. I’ll side on the side of caution. FORECAST: COLD WINTER.
  7. October 9th: “If the weather on October 9 was sunny, the following winter will be very cold.” Guess what we saw on October 9, nothing but sunshine. FORECAST: VERY COLD WINTER.
  8. Weeds: “The taller the summer weeds, the deeper the snow will be through the winter.” With plenty of rain this past summer, the grass and weeds both were exceptionally high. FORECAST: A LOT OF SNOW.
  9. Flowers: “If the flowers that bloom in the spring have a second bloom during the fall season, the winter will be cold and harsh.” With the warm temperatures recently, I’ve seen flowers still blooming and it is now November! FORECAST: COLD, HARSH WINTER.

If I were to rely on folklore alone to create a 2016 winter forecast, I’d say we’re in for a cold, harsh, snowy winter with an isolated warm-up here and there. Polish up those snow shovels!