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.
Here are the 20 Signs of A Hard Winter according to folklore:
- Thicker-than-normal corn husks.
- Woodpeckers sharing a tree.
- Early arrival of the Snowy owl.
- Early departure of geese and ducks.
- Early migration of the Monarch butterfly.
- Thick hair on the nape (back) of the cow’s neck.
- Heavy and numerous fogs during August.
- Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands.
- Mice chewing furiously into the home.
- Early arrival of crickets on the hearth.
- Spiders spinning larger than usual webs and entering the house in great numbers.
- Pigs gathering sticks.
- Insects 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 orange band on the Woollybear (or Woollyworm) caterpillar: a narrow orange band warns of heavy snow; fat and fuzzy caterpillars presage bitter cold. Dick Goddard’s Woolly Bear Festival is held in Vermillion, Ohio each year!
- The squirrel gathers nuts early to fortify against a hard winter.
- Frequent halos or rings around the Sun or Moon forecast numerous snow falls.
What signs of a hard winter are you seeing in your back yard?
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