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Signs of Winter Revisited

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In early June 2010, I had an avalanche of acorns dropping on my house, deck and lawn and it never stopped until November. As the summer progressed, it became apparent that the many signs of a hard winter were facing us. So, I asked what others were observing, including early squirrel activity, enormous acorn drops, woolly bear caterpillars, larger spider webs, persimmon seeds, etc. I heard from hundreds of you from all over the US with observations that you experienced the same thing. Fast forward a few months and everyone got whacked with extreme cold and snow. I think it snowed in 49 states (sorry Hawaii) that winter.

Last fall, the acorns were small and relatively few. So, again, I asked about those trusted signs, and while I heard from only a few dozen people, the response was underwhelming and the observations not nearly as dire. Most who reported about caterpillars indicated that it might be mild winter. Granted, we are only in the “middle” of winter, but it has been nothing short of unusual. Most places have been mild weather and northern states are seeing temperatures of 0 degrees one day followed by 49 degrees the next.

So, how would you rate this winter in your backyard? Has this been severe, average or mild? How are we doing with our predictions? As a reminder, here is our winter weather map.

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1 Debbie { 02.29.12 at 2:51 pm }

Very mild winter in both my home state of Massachusetts and here in North Carolina where I live now…

2 Peter Geiger { 02.14.12 at 2:27 pm }

What I think I am hearing is that is has been a mild winter overall. We called for mild in most regions with the excpetion of the northern plain states. I odn’t know if it has been as wet (rain or snow) as I thought but this is an especially crazy year with the extremes over the course of a day or two. Last weekend in Maine it was 6 degrees one morning and 40 degrees the next afternoon. Yikes – that is a forecaster’s nightmare.

For Dave – the persimmon seed (sign of winter) relates more to the shape of the seeds than the number of them them. If you cut open a seed and it looks like a knife , it will be cold/ icy winter, a fork – mild and a spoon shape indicates heavy snow. It is always fun to see what each of the 20 signs “say” as we approach winter.

3 Sweetlil66 { 02.11.12 at 10:53 pm }

Very mild here at the Ar and MO border. Your predictions are spot on as usual. Funny that the crowds roar when weather is more harsh than mild. I do trust the trees I share my spot on this earth with. They really tell the truth. The daffidols are blooming and tonite is forecast in the teens. Maybe several spring blooms this year.

4 genemajor { 02.11.12 at 4:09 pm }

In Ashland Va. it is finally snowing Wet big flakes not on the road but everything else is covered It has been a very mild winter so far. I would like 1 big snow just for spring planting. Keep my fingers cross

5 Diane J. Fafard (lady Di.) { 02.11.12 at 8:45 am }

Very Mild winter.

6 Terisa { 02.10.12 at 7:11 pm }

Very Mild Winter~Wishing for Snow in NV.

7 Mary Neviska { 02.10.12 at 6:45 pm }

I live in Ohio and every caterpillar I saw was mostly light brown.. True, it has been very mild.It seems to snow every and then during the week it is in the 40’s and 50’s.

8 Dave { 02.10.12 at 6:45 pm }

Your comment about persimmon seeds piqued my interest. In 2010, we had virtually no seeds in our fruit. Hard winter. Last summer our fruit was full of seeds. So far, very mild winter. Is this characteristic of the signs of winter? I’ve never heard this before.
One sign of spring in south Georgia is when pecan trees bud, the frost is over. In thirty years, as a small grower, a pecan tree hasn’t lied to me yet.

9 mel miron { 02.10.12 at 6:17 pm }

I live in the southern part of upper MI and this winter has been very mild and with little snow. We’ve gotten so little snow that I have not had to take out my snowblower yet this season. We will have a few days near 40 degrees and then a few days in the normal range of lower 20s. It was warm enough this past week to dry my laundry on the outside clotheslines, something I’ve never been able to do in February.

10 Brenda Hudson { 02.10.12 at 6:05 pm }

In Myrtle Beach, SC this has been a very mild, dry winter. This week-end will be the coldest we’ve had so far-high 20’s for two nights then back to early spring weather!

11 Bobby Madigan { 02.10.12 at 5:58 pm }

We have less snow in Southern Colorado than in any of the last five years.

12 Preston Zepp { 02.10.12 at 5:53 pm }

In Temple, Ga its been fairly nice. Even had a couple of day’s where you could wear a T-shirt. But we are finally getting the weather that we should have had a month ago. I hate cold weather,but I hope it stays cold long enough to kill the bugs. Hate to see all of the early blooms get killed off though.

13 yoverizon { 02.10.12 at 4:04 pm }

I live near Lynchburg, VA and it hasent snowed ANY this year at all. This cold blast were getting this weekend, the snow will miss us. This winter has been mild but February is actually colder than normal! Will i see snow this year? or will i just have to give up on hope and wait for next winter?

14 carsonsgrammy { 02.10.12 at 2:24 pm }

I live in Gig Harbor, WA, and so far the “very wet” on your map has not materialized. However, it doesn’t mean that can’t turn on a dime, we often have very wet Springs.

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