© 2019 Terry Swails

SPIDERS, CRICKETS, WALNUTS, AND WOOLLY BEARS...

September 4, 2019

My ace in the hole when it comes to weather facts and folklore is Steve Gottschalk out of Lowden, Iowa. He's now in his 58th year of observing and documenting the weather of EC Iowa, especially in and around Cedar County. Every year I reach out to Steve to get his very popular woolly bear outlook for winter. There's nothing fancy about it. He collects the fuzzy creatures and then observes the color and number of stripes. He plugs that into his formula and gets "the woolly worms" forecast for winter.

Going a step further, one of Steve's perfected passions is combining folklore and old wive's tales with the science of meteorology to create long range forecasts. He's been doing this unique form of prognostication since 1978 with very respectable results. He's already come up with some ideas for the next 6 months (including winter). He's given his consent to pass his thoughts on to you. So, here we go with that.

 

September: Cooler and wetter and thinking the first frost around the 21st. When you have your first frost (32 degrees) in the month of September, 63% of the time it happens during a La Nada year, 26% during a La Nina year and 11% during a El Nino year. This year is a La Nada year.

 

October: Warmer and drier with still a trace of snow of snow during the month.

 

November: Colder and drier with a 69% of snow of 1.0" or more.

 

December: Colder with near normal precipitation. Snowier with 2 or 3 snowfalls of 3.0" or more. This was based on several different factors including moon phases, the ENSO index, sunspots and historical data.

 

January: Terry I was doing January's forecast last night and I got a little excited about what I was seeing. It showed a colder January with normal to above normal precipitation with more snow than usual. Look at what Januaries showed up in my model or analog. The years of 1963, 1971, 1979, 1982, 2009 and 2014. Some of our coldest on record. Some of those Januaries had quite a bit of snow and some big storms. I was told that the blackberries didn't do very well this year and the peach trees did poorly. The acorns are really small this year, too. Couldn't find any folklore on these events.

 

February: My forecast is looking like below normal temperatures, slightly below normal precipitation and above normal snowfall.

 

March: Is looking like below normal temperatures, above normal precipitation and above normal snowfall.

 

Thought you would also find this interesting.

 

Weather Folklore:

I have 8 woolly bear reports so far and 7 of them are indicating a colder winter.

More spiders than usual coming in which portends a colder winter.

Quite a few crickets around which means a snowier winter.

The walnut trees have fewer walnuts which means a harsher winter.

There were more of the large dragonflies around this summer which means a colder winter.

 

Thought you would like this too?

 

I checked out the Old Farmer's Almanac to see how accurate they were for last year from November-March.

For November they said 5 degrees above normal but it was 6.1 degrees below normal.

For December they said 5 degrees below normal but it was 6.4 degrees above normal.

For January they said 5 degrees above normal but it was 0.5 degrees below normal.

For February they said 7 degrees above normal but it was 7.7 degrees below normal.

For March they said 1 degree below normal but it was 3.1 degrees below normal.

They had below normal snowfall predicted for this area but I had 23.6" more than normal.

Despite the cold winter predicted there still will be some milder periods.

 

Well there you have it. Steve is on the hook for a snowier and colder winter than normal. That's the way I'm leaning too only I don't have all the fun folklore to back up the meteorology. Thanks to Steve, his perspective, and willingness to be a contributor and friend of tswails.com. Roll weather and woolly bears! ...TS

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