Anyone can play weather detective. You absolutely do not have to be a meteorologist. But before you get started, we'll have to have a little chat about the birds and the bees. (No, I really mean the birds and the bees!) There are plenty of clues to be found when you investigate how soon the geese are migrating, where the bees are nesting, and how many crickets there are at your back door.
Some folks call this stuff silly folklore. I beg to differ. I have the Inspector Clouseau of all Weather Investigations to prove that where there are large number of crickets...there will be snowy winters.
Let me introduce him.
Steve Gottschalk is an award winning weather observer and author of "Predicting the Weather like Grandpa Used to." He's been tracking down clues and recording his results in Cedar County since 1962. I think it would be fair to call him a legend in Eastern Iowa. He truly is the real deal.
He has bookshelves loaded with his own research all meticulously handwritten, carefully filed, and lovingly shelved.
Steve began studying the number of crickets in relation to snow in 1993. He's found them to have a 73% accuracy rate when it comes to predicting winter snowfall. This year there is a healthy crop of crickets so that's one clue we're going to have a snowier-than-usual winter season.
But his favorite go-to method of determining winter temperatures is the woolly caterpillar. Apparently studying the stripes on the woolly caterpillar can tell you how cold the winter will be. Four stripes or less means a chilly season. Steve has been investigating them since 1978 and his research shows the woolies are 75% accurate.
Despite extensive sleuthing on finding the woolies; Steve's been having a difficulty finding them this year. But the ones he's discovered do point to near normal temperatures for the winter season.
In Cedar Rapids, the manager of the Quality Pest Control reports that people are calling earlier than ever this year to report an invasion of mice and spiders. Randy Barber grew up on his family farm in Iowa, and he's definitely a true believer in tracking Mother Nature to find weather clues. As he told me, before the advent of television and broadcast meteorologists, folks had to be in tune with nature or they could find themselves stuck in the middle of a blizzard.
But back to the mice and spiders. They are on the rampage.
Steve gives spiders and mice a 70% accuracy rate in determining if winter will have more snowfall than usual. Apparently the little critters get it earlier than we do that it's time to find a warm nest for the winter.
Other clues you can look for during your weather investigations. Are the feathers on the geese darker than usual? Do the bees build their nests higher in the trees? Is there a bumper crops of nuts falling? These are all signs that perhaps we are in for a tough go this season.
Then there is the moon. Steve also studies the lunar cycles in determining when there will be the most likely time for snowstorms. He's just finished his outlook for this season. Here's what he has to say about November.
"Looking at November snowstorms of 4" or more... the greatest number 45% occurred during the full moon, 22% during the first quarter and last quarter moons and 11% during the new moon. 56% of them occurred from the 25th - 30th. 56% of them occurred during a La Nina, 33% during an El Nino and 11% during a neutral phase," he said.
So when determining when the snowstorms will occur, you can look to the moon for a few hints of what's to come.
So why do we need Terry? (Aside from the fact that's he's weather eye candy!) Well, science does play an important role in determining weather trends and daily forecasts. While he will be the first one to tell you he relies on his scientific knowledge to formulate his weather predictions, he also finds it good to know that Mother Nature is backing him up.
In other words when science and nature point to the same result, your confidence level is higher. So I guess we'll keep him.
ALSO TERRY WILL HAVE SPECIAL REPORT CALLED "UNMASKING WINTER" ON CBS2 AND FOX 28 MONDAY OCTOBER 30TH AT NINE AND TEN PM. BE SURE TO CHECK IT OUT! (If you can't make it we will try to post it the next day.)