What will the winter of 2017 be like this year? It’s that time of year when we all start thinking ahead. With cooler fall temperatures in the air and the holiday season right around the corner, we can’t help but wonder what kind of winter we will have.
Now I’m one that likes to look at the old timers and how they predict the winter: Whether the wooly worms are a solid color or have more stripes, or the squirrels are traveling and gathering more nuts to prepare for a long hard and cold winter.
According to folklore, the amount of black on the woolly worm in autumn varies proportionately with the severity of the coming winter in the locality where the caterpillar is found. The longer the woolly worm’s black bands, the longer, colder, snowier, and more severe the winter will be. Similarly, the wider the middle brown band is associated with a milder upcoming winter.
I’ve only seen a couple of wooly worms while walking my dog, but they were both solid black … with no brown stripes.
There are other folklores when predicting the winter. Here are a few.
For every fog in August there will be a snowfall.
If the first week in August is unusually warm, the coming winter will be snowy and long.
If squirrels are more active than usual and gathering a lot of nuts, it’s considered a signal that a severe winter is on its way.
If onions or cornhusks have thicker than normal skins, that is also an old-fashioned sign of a hard winter ahead.
If the leaves fall from the trees late in the year, that is another sign.
If spiders are spinning larger than usual webs and entering the house in great numbers, then that could be a sign of a cold winter.
When muskrats burrow holes higher on the river bank, this could be another indication of a bad winter heading our way.
More frequent halos or rings around the sun or moon could forecast numerous snow falls.
The 2017 Farmers’ Almanac, which has already hit the store shelves, cautions that we will have an exceptionally cold winter this year. They say the Northern Plains, Great Lakes, Midwest, Ohio Valley, the Middle Atlantic, Northeast, and New England this winter will be frigid.
The Farmers’ Almanac’s long-range weather predictions also suggest shots of very cold weather will periodically reach as far south as Florida and the Gulf Coast.
Forecasters see a weak and short-lived La Nina coming, probably next month. The flip side of El Nino changes weather patterns worldwide, according to an Associated Press story I read.
La Ninas usually mean wetter winters in the northern Rockies, Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley.
AccuWeather states on its website that it “will feel like an extended winter for those living from the northern Plains to the eastern U.S., as cold and snowy conditions stretch into spring 2017.”
“Frequent storms across the northeastern U.S. this winter may lead to an above-normal season for snowfall,” the site states
“I think the Northeast is going to see more than just a few, maybe several, systems in the course of the season,” AccuWeather Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.
Meanwhile, drier and milder weather will focus on the majority of the southern half of the nation.
So whether you pay attention to the meteorologists, or the old-fashioned folklore, we could be in for a long, cold winter.
You should be prepared to bundle up and store up a few extra cans of soup and boxes of crackers. You and your family could need it come January and February.
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)