Will it be a good winter? Weather folklore vs outlooks...

By Mountain Mama Oct 24, 2013
Every year I get the question "what does this winter look like, will it be a good ski season?" Being a Meteorologist for all of my career, I look ahead to 30 and 90 day outlooks, patterns and other signs. But what about good old weather folklore!
Will it be a good winter? Weather folklore vs outlooks...

Around these parts these days in Utah, the sun is shining and I'm still busy hiking.  Mid October and things can change in a second, so I'm just biding my time and enjoying the changing of the leaves and warm temps while they last. I've included a few photos from one of my favorite hikes up to Lake Blanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  I didn't make it all the way, but the views were amazing, the creek was flowing swiftly and the leaf colors were beautiful.  A fun thing to do in the fall is to go up and do a painting of the leaves changing.  I saw 2 different groups doing just that and also have my kids do it as a great fall activity and to get them outdoors!  It It was a hot, dry summer and has been a cool, wet fall up until a week ago.  A big ridge of high pressure has developed and blocks any storms from heading our way.  No need to panic, it often happens this time of year.  In the outlook for the next 3 months, the Climate Prediction Center has Utah in that area of "normal" snowfall.  Again, no biggie as to predict a crazy snow year rarely happens with the CPC.

So, I decided to look up some fun  folklore to check out.

There are 2 things you can try at home and use as a guide this winter to see if it works:

1. Persimmon seed:  You can find these in the produce department and should be grown-if possible- in your home state.  You need to cut it open and split open the seeds.

a. If kernal has spoon shape-heavy wet snow

b. If kernal has fork shape-powdery snow, mild winter

c. If kernal has knife shape-icy cold winter


2. Woolly Bear Caterpillars: This is probably the most common folklore.  It started in 1948 by a curator in New York City.  It is actually the larva form of the Tiger Moth.  Before winter, you see them racing around to find a place to winter-normally in bark or rocks or logs.  The woolly bear is colored with black on its ends and a brown stripe in the middle.  

a. The saying goes a narrow brown band-harsh winter

b. The more brown band or wider- mild winter


3. Many other fun folklore:

a. A bad winter: Squirrels collect nuts early, lots of acorns, berries or pinecones or onions have more layers.

b. A mild winter:  If the first snow falls on unfrozen ground, if the weather if mild on July 15th or if the dogwood trees have a light bloom in the spring.


So, let me know if you have any folklore you'd like to share and lets see if those Woolly worms or Persimmon seeds know more than us Meteorologists!