by Curt Kovener
There is a kerfuffle in the coming seasonal air and it has to do with what kind of winter we are going to have.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac (and we all know a number of old farmers, don’t we?), the Midwest and the entire North American continent is in for a “Polar Coaster”.
Of course this comes as no surprise to our friends in Canada who are also a part of the North American Continent (for those who are geographically challenged)…they always have #$%^ cold winters.
The almanac claims the operative words for the coming winter are freezing, frigid and frosty.
Here in Indiana the almanac claims we are in store for a frozen, snowy winter starting in January. Higher amounts of precipitation and sub-zero temperatures are heading our way in the first weeks of 2020, according to the Almanac.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac bases their prediction on established years of past weather in the country.
But does climate change, melting ice caps, ocean levels rising play into their past observances for future predictions?
There is another— and just as accurate(?)— predicter of the coming winter now seen across southern Indiana: the wooly worm. More precisely it is the wooly bear caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger Moth.
Folklore has it that if the woolly worm is all black, we are in for a severe winter. If the caterpillar is brown on the front and rear and black in the middle then a cold winter is sandwiched between a milder beginning and end. And if the wooly worm is all brown then we are in store for a mild winter.
The wooly worms I have seen crossing the highways on my travels in Jackson and Scott County are all light tan and some are bi-colored in their hues. Thus there is dissention amongst the wooly worm ranks of what kind of winter we southern Hoosiers with have. On second thought, perhaps the tan wooly worms have plans on wintering in Florida.
The accuracy of the predictions of the woolybear caterpillar is verified by the National Association of Wolly Worm Winter Weather Watchers otherwise known as NAWWWWW.
A third predictor of winter has yet to make its prognostication. Split persimmon seeds will show a spoon, knife or fork shape epicotyl (the part that becomes the first leaves and stem). According to folklore 1) a spoon indicates a lot of snow to shovel, 2) a fork meaning a mild winter, 3) or knife indicating coming cutting cold.
But the persimmons seeds aren’t talking yet as the fruit remains hard, green and puckery in the Hoosier wilderness. As soon a cooler weather prompts ripening and dropping of the tasty fruit, another predictor of the coming winter will enter the fray.
But we southern Hoosiers can all be assured that the year’s weather prediction can be summed up in a springtime warming spell, followed by a seasonal hot spell, followed by a cooling trend, following by a cold spell all lasting about 3-4 months…give or take.