Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY


September 21, 2009

Folk methods for weather prediction

Most people trust weathermen to tell them if it is going to be hot, cold, sunny, cloudy, rainy or snowy.

Meteorologists, such as Jim Cantore with the Weather Channel, rely on very scientific methods to predict weather, but before there was a Jim Cantore people relied on less conventional methods to predict the weather, specifically the winter.

One such method involves examining the rings on a woolly bear caterpillar to predict the severity of winter. If the caterpillar has two black rings, one at each end, then it is said the winter will harsh in the beginning and at the end, but the middle of winter will be mild.

Another method is counting the number of fogs that occur during the month of August to determine the number of snows there will be in the winter.

Gary Tilghman, agriculture Extension agent for Barren County, said he has heard of both weather predicting folkways.

“Those are the two biggest ones I keep hearing people say,” he said.

Tilghman said the University of Kentucky Extension Services relies more on the predictions of Tom Priddy, agriculture meteorologist with the University of Kentucky.

There are others, such as the thickness of the shuck on an ear of corn will determine the severity of winter as well as the thickness of a walnut shell.

“If you eat persimmons and you get the seed out of it and if it’s in the form of a shovel, that means it’s going to be a heavy snow because you need the shovel to shovel the snow,” said Bud Tarry, transportation director for Barren County schools.

Tarry doesn’t use any of the folkways to determine how many days of school students will be out due to snow.

“I don’t even read the Farmer’s Almanac to predict how many days we’re going to be out,” he said.

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