Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Spring Is Coming!
But what does the Woolly Bear Caterpillar predict? (Wait, the Woolly Bear predicts a harsh or mild winter). Who else is in this prediction business? Here are a few more from Weather Lore:
As we have just discovered, meteorologists now use lots of complicated equipment, such as satellites, to forecast the weather. However, people have always been interested in the weather, particularly farmers, sailors and others whose livelihood depended on it. So before this equipment was available people used all the things around them as a guide. As well as looking at the skies, they also used the behavior of animals, birds and plants as clues to future weather patterns.
|Photo of BRFAL Chapter trainees on a Forest Field Trip|
One of the most reliable of all natural weather indicators are pine cones. These have traditionally been used to forecast the weather as they change shape according to whether it is wet or dry. In dry weather, pine cones open out as the scales shrivel up and stand out stiffly. When it is damp, they absorb moisture and as the scales become flexible again, the cone returns to its normal shape.
In a similar way, squirrels are often used to forecast the weather over the coming winter. If their tail is very bushy or they are collecting big stores of nuts in autumn, then a severe winter should be expected. However, little scientific evidence has been found to support this.
There are a number of flowers that you should look for if you want to know what the weather will be like. One of these is the Scarlet Pimpernel, which has been called the "poor man’s weather glass". This is because its flowers open in sunny weather, but close tightly when rain is expected.
The petals of the Morning Glory act in a similar way – with wide open blooms indicating fine weather and shut petals predicting rain and bad weather. This opening and closing also occurs with the South African magic carpet flower
Living in these Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, also being a Virginia Master Naturalist I have learned there really are ways to see the weather coming! Many of the old timers have had to rely on old methods, some may be considered old wives tales, some actually have a bit of logic involved.
What ways have you heard of to predict the weather?
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