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 Ray Geiger’s, Cleveland weather guru, Dick Goddard, put together a laundry list of these “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 eating ravenously 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
- 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 are you seeing in your backyard?