No doubt about it; cold winter is coming

tamrawilson winter predictions

This time of year, the news—and folklorists—are full of winter predictions. The forecast, in case you missed it, is for a cold, harsh winter.

I sensed this myself about 10 days ago, when a cool spell broke the summer heat. I remarked how the air was different. Less humid. It smelled like fall.

Through my years on this planet, I’ve learned how weather tends to balance itself out. Earlier this summer, we had a lot of hot dry weather (just ask the folks out West). To my reasoning, that tends to draw a cold, wet winter.

My hunch about a hard winter was supported recently by a YouTuber I follow from East Tennessee. She says jewelweed is blooming its orange splendor early this year. I’m not sure I know what jewelweed is exactly, but I did see a lot of fireweed in Alaska last month. Tour guides on the way to Fairbanks remarked about the beautiful pink blooms along the roadside. Seeing it in July means a harsh winter is coming, and in a land where winter rules, I took note.

If you don’t trust Alaska prognosticators, consider one of my Facebook friends in Colorado Springs. Last week he reported his fireplace going at 4 a.m., to ward off the chill. “Little early for that,” he said.

I saw my own sign of fall this past Saturday. Driving through the county, I spotted a clump of sumac turned firey red-orange. Isn’t it a bit early for that too?

As we near the end of August no doubt several of you have been counting fogs and dropping beans or buttons into a jar to keep count. As the saying goes, the number of fogs in August predict the days of snow in the coming winter.  Dense fogs mean heavier snows; lighter fogs, lesser amounts.

I’ve never kept rack by beans or buttons, but I have noticed a foggy morning or two here lately, so take that as you will.

They say persimmon seeds can predict winter. A “spoon” pattern has been seen inside the kernels of persimmon seeds, and that can only mean plenty of snow to shovel—at least up in the mountains. A “fork,” by the way, means a mild winter, while a “knife” indicates that bitter winds are on the way.

The jury is still out for North Carolina’s wooly worm caterpillars. The Banner Elk festival won’t occur until October, so we’ll have to wait for the official forecast.

As the folklore goes, winter’s severity is indicated by the dark bands in the wooly caterpillar’s coat. The dark band at the head of the caterpillar means the beginning of winter will be severe, and if the tail end is dark, the end of winter will be especially harsh.

I suppose a solid black woolly worm means to Katy bar the door against Old Man Winter.

Farmer’s Almanac has already weighed in for 2022/23, and they’re all in for it being a doozy: plenty of snow, rain and mush—and record low temperatures—particularly for the Eastern U.S.

Almanac publishers are urging readers to stock up on winter flannels, firewood, boots and anything else you might need for a long, cold winter.

Folks, you’ve been warned.

Photo credit: IronChris, Wikimedia