As a gardener, and someone who enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, I would like to have a general idea of how the coming winter is going to be. I know it’s impossible to know exactly, but you’d think that between the old time knowledge and “cutting edge” science there would be some kind of consensus.
Au contraire. Here’s an overview of this year’s winter weather predictions:
Wooly bear caterpillars: The wider the brown band is, the more severe the coming winter will be. I did not see more than a couple of these caterpillars this year, so I don’t know what they’re predicting. Of course, scientists discount this as hogwash, but are they any better with their forecasts? Let’s see, shall we?
Mast: This is supposedly a mast year for oak trees, which means they produce several times more acorns than usual. I’m not so sure. The oaks around here (RI) don’t seem to be producing more acorns this year. Anyway, no one really knows if mast is even significant in helping predict winter weather. One professor – a Ph.D. - describes it as “a mystery.”
Climate variations: Then there’s La Nina, the opposite of El Nino. This is supposed to be a strong La Nina year, which means more precipitation in the northwest, dry conditions in the southern and Midwest states, and for the northeast? Well, it could be colder and snowier, or it could be “average” depending on who you listen to. Here’s a link to NOAA’s El Nino/La Nina page. I guarantee you’ll be even more confused after reading it!
It’s extraordinary how even the most scientific forecasts can vary, depending on the different computer models, and how the data are interpreted. I suppose I will just go about my usual winter preparations and hope for the best. It would be nice to have a little more snow this year, though…..it makes such a cozy blanket for the garden and it’s really fun to play in.
Finally, the most accurate gauge of winter weather (but not a good predictor) is my dachshund. If she disappears in the snow when she goes out, there’s a lot of it.