Welcome to winterAfter a long day, I returned home yesterday to find the setting sun highlighting a lawn full of spider webs.
By: By Robin Trott, Extension Educator, Alexandria Echo Press
After a long day, I returned home yesterday to find the setting sun highlighting a lawn full of spider webs. My friend, Chester Branch, who passed away this year, once told me that spider webs in the lawn and in the air were a sure sign of Indian summer, the last warm spell before winter sets in for good.
I’ve tested Chester’s theory over the last several years, and it has been pretty accurate. I see the webs on the grass and in the air, and, Bang!, the weather turns cold. So, although the official first day of winter won’t be here until December 21, our spider friends have told us that winter has arrived, unofficially.
Weather lore has been around since people needed to predict the weather and plan their activities. Sailors and farmers relied on it to navigate ships and plant crops. Here are some of their traditional ways to forecast the weather for the coming season.
To foretell the coming winter’s snowfall, count the days from the first snowfall of the season to the preceding new moon. This will tell you the number of snowfalls to expect. Our first snowfall was on October 10, the preceding new moon was on September 18, 22 days earlier. That’s 22 days of snow this winter.
The severity of the coming winter has many different tells. If wooly bear caterpillars have a heavy coat, and the black band at each end is wide, the winter will be harsh and long. If Michaelmas on September 29 brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields in snow. It will be a cold, snowy winter if squirrels accumulate huge stores of nuts. Finally, a garden sign: “Onion’s skin, very thin; mild winter coming in. Onion’s skin, thick and tough; coming winter cold and rough.”
“A ring around the sun or moon means rain or snow is coming soon.” To predict weather short-term, take a look at the moon. If there is a ring around the moon, count the number of stars within this ring. This will tell you how many days until the next bout of precipitation. If there is a double ring around the moon, expect precipitation within the next 24 hours.
Although these ancient weather signs are not always accurate, many of them are based on science. Ice crystals in a layer of cirrus clouds create the ring around the moon. This type of cloud often indicates an approaching warm front associated with a low-pressure system that can lead to rain or snow.
My best suggestion is to keep a weather eye out and pay attention to all the natural indicators around you; then turn on the radio, television or computer and check what the experts are saying.
Have a wonderful start to your holiday season! Here’s hoping your turkey is moist, your stuffing is firm, and your pie is the best it can be. Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving!