I’m pretty sure the Farmers’ Almanac is overrated as far as weather forecasts go.
This year will see cold, snow, blustery winds, flurries, colder, more flurries, more snow and things will freeze, it says.
I wonder what genius came up with that?
For much of the summer and fall I heard various foretellings of the really bad winter we were about to be hammered with. It appeared to be coming true when in early November the skies dumped up to two feet of snow in some areas, piling on the unraked leaves in many people’s yards, including mine.
Winter’s untimely arrival was responsible for some 60 fender-benders in Traverse City over a six-hour time span.
Since then it’s been above freezing many days, with temps in the 40s on Christmas. We’ve had more snow, but not much.
On Tuesday I was on the phone with a source when a squall alert came in on my cell. The alerts are new this year and are meant to warn drivers not of major storms, but smaller weather events, aka snow.
We named it Squall Annette. The next one will be Squall Barnaby. And Squall Cecelia ... I wonder how many times we will go through the alphabet by May, when we will all be well sick of the squall alert.
A couple minutes later I looked out the window and lo and behold, it was snowing big, fat squally-esque snowflakes.
Good thing I got that alert. I could have been caught in that thing.
So, as far as weather predictions go, some depend on the woolly bear caterpillar as an omen for the coming winter with its black/red-orange/black coloring. The narrower the orange band around the caterpillar’s middle, the more severe the winter.
I saw these guys crawling around in my subdivision earlier this year as I was walking Carl Poppa. Was the band wide? Wider than normal? Is red-orange the new black?
I don’t know. What I do know is that winter is definitely here. As it is every year. As it will be next year, despite the warming of the planet.
Not to burst anyone’s bug bubble, but a bunch of entomologists apparently measured the woollies, finding no relationship between the stripe and the sleet. The stripe, they found, indicates last year’s winter, which is absolutely no help.
There is also the American mountain-ash tree, whose clusters of orange berries are said to portend a nasty winter. The more the berries, the harsher the winter.
I had one of these in my yard in Saginaw. I eventually had it taken out because the berries were dropping all over my roof and porch. The tree’s ability to prognosticate did not outweigh the mess it made.
Another so-called harbinger of a severe winter is the number of acorns on the oaks and the busy-ness of squirrels squirreling them away. Again, I’m not sure how to measure the ergonomics of a rodent.
I moved to Leelanau in 2012 and that winter’s snowfall nearly broke a long-standing record. I lived in a Sugarloaf condo, where snowblowers piled the white stuff up so high it nearly covered my kitchen window.
The following year was one of the coldest on record.
I’m not sure what the woollies or the squirrels or the Farmer’s Almanac had to say about those years, but as for me, I’ll stick to Doppler radar.