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STEVE'S WILD WORLD OF WEATHER, make your own snow forecast....

When it comes to weather folklore and historical events this is the man I go to. With more than 50 years of statistical and observational research, he's the dude! When it comes to lunar cycles, woolly bear caterpillars, insects, bugs, and animals, he tracks them, records them, and establishes ties to weather patterns. He's a knowledgeable and interesting man. His name is Steve Gottschalk by way of Lowden, Iowa. I'm grateful to him for lending his unique perspective to the site. Steve's "wild" world of weather can be found every Wednesday right here on


By Steve Gottschalk SESSION 3

Remembering back to the early 1980's, after our first snowfall of the season, my father would listen for the snowfall prediction on WMT radio. Then long time radio host, Jerry Carr, the "old Cherokee" would issue his snowfall forecast on his morning show. He would predict not only how many snowfalls there would be during the winter but how many inches of snow would fall during the season. He did his predictions for many years and sometimes he was quite accurate.

Eventually I did figure out how he came up with the number of snowfalls but never did figure out how he came up with the number of inches. I tried various mathematical calculations but came up empty handed. For his number of snowfalls I'm pretty sure he added the date of the first snowfall plus the number of days since the new moon.

To qualify as the first snowfall, it needs to be a "cat tracking" event, one where you could follow the paw prints. Some forecasters say this a 0.25" and others say it has to be 0.50" to qualify. Take you pick.

Here's some formulas that exist for non scientific estimates of how much snow will fall in a winter.

The date of the first snowfall is the number of snows.

The number of days since the first snowfall til the new moon is the number of snows.

The number of days til the full moon since the first snow fell will be number of snows.

There are several other snowfall formulas that deal with fog.

Count the number of foggy mornings in the spring, summer and the fall, that will be the number of snowfalls during the winter.

For every fog in October there will be a snow during the winter; for each heavy fog there will be a heavy snow and for each light fog there will be a light snow.

Count the number of foggy mornings between the August full moon and the October full moon. This will determine how many snows there will be during the winter.

I tested all of these formulas over the years. Sometimes they would work and others not so much. The one the "old Cherokee" used above was the most accurate.

What will November's weather will be like?

I looked at the top ten warmest Septembers and found that a colder November usually followed, especially when experiencing a La Nada phase of the tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures.

I also looked at the top ten wettest Septembers and found that the wet ones tend to produce snowier November's the majority of the time, especially during a La Nada.

The trends point towards a colder and snowier November.

What do the snowbirds say?

The snowbirds (slate-colored juncos) arrived here on the 15th of the month. I have been keeping track of these birds since the early 1990's. We usually see our first snowflakes within two weeks of their arrival - 70% of the time.

That's all for this week. On the "wild side of weather", I'm Steve Gottschalk.

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