Before there were weather apps for your smartphone, Doppler radar, or the National Weather Service, people looked to the signs of nature to prepare for what’s to come. A wonderful friend of Farmers’ Almanac’s Editor, Ray Geiger’s, Cleveland weather guru Dick Goddard put together a laundry list of 20 signs of nature that can predict a harsh winter ahead. We featured these in the 1978 Farmers’ Almanac, and it is still relevant today.
20 Signs of A Hard Winter
Here are the signs of a hard winter to come according to folklore:
- Thicker-Than-Normal Corn Husks.
- Woodpeckers Sharing a Tree.
- The Early Arrival of the Snowy owl.
- The Early Departure of Geese and Ducks.
- The Early Migration of the Monarch butterfly.
- Thick Hair on the Nape of a Cow’s Neck.
- Heavy and Numerous Fogs During August.
- Raccoons With Thick Tails and Bright Bands.
- Mice Chewing Furiously To Get Into Your Home.
- The Early Arrival of Crickets on the Hearth.
- Spiders Spinning Larger-Than-Usual Webs and Entering the House in Great Numbers.
- Pigs Gathering Sticks.
- Ants 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.”
- The Size of the Orange Band on the Woollybear (or Woollyworm) Caterpillar. According to folklore, if the caterpillar’s orange band is narrow, the winter will be snowy; conversely, a wide orange band means a mild winter. All black caterpillars are not Woollybears. And fuzzier-than-normal woollybear caterpillars are said to mean that winter will be very cold.
- Squirrels Gathering Nuts Early to Fortify Against a Hard Winter.
- Frequent Halos or Rings Around the Sun or Moon Forecasts Numerous Snowfalls.
What signs of a hard winter are you seeing in your back yard?