Folklore Forecast: Pseudo-Scientific Predictions of a Big Winter

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on August 31, 2009 7:12 pm

The weather like the after-life causes an uneasy uncertainty.  Uncertainty begets unease.  Eliminate the former and the latter falls too.  But, who can eliminate uncertainty? 

Unattainable answers are the specialty of snake oil salesmen and legendary folk lore.  The answers may not be right, but once given, we’re free to move on to other worries.

Looking forward to the winter of 2009, let’s keep our optimism high as we eliminate uncertainty and unease.   We want snow, snow, and more snow!  Seven hundred inches worth!  Here are five timeless, but not really time-tested, methods for creating a bit of certainty for a bountiful white winter.

Next page: Can North Carolinians spell?






[page]Wooly (Woolly?) Worm

The scientific name is the Arctiidae.  The unscientific belief is that this fuzzy caterpillar has physical clues that forecast the upcoming severity of winter.  If the Wooly worm’s brown stripes are thin, a big winter is on its way!  Each October, folks from North Carolina gather in Banner Elk for the Woolly Worm Festival.  You’d think if you stage a festival in celebration of a particular worm, that you’d spell the name of that particular worm correctly.  Ah, but who cares!  They race the Wooly worms for the big 1k prize and check the brown bands of the winning Wooly worm for the winter forecast.  Winning Wooly worm, say that five times fast.

Next page: German spies believe our folklore, too

[page]Farmer’s Almanac

Since 1818, the Farmer’s Almanac has been joshin’ the masses with its long-range weather predictions.  Robert Thomas, the publication’s founder, devised a super secret weather forecasting formula.  Today that formula is under heavy guard at the Almanac’s home office in Dublin, New Hampshire. 

The comedy of it all is that during World War II, the Almanac was forced by the U.S. Office of Censorship to suspend its weather predictions when a German spy was apprehended with a copy of the book in his pocket.  Good thing those Germans didn’t get ahold of our wood stretchers, too!

Next page: Singing flowers in the afterlife








[page]Black Bears’ Sleeping Spots

The Gwich’in are a First Nations, Alaskan tribe living above the Arctic Circle.  Their afterlife belief consists of singing flowers.  Their present-life belief is that black bears’ sleeping spots can be used as a predictor of winter’s harshness.  If the bears make their sleeping spots far from their den opening, a cold winter is ahead.  Closer to the den, the winter will be mild.  What if the bear ditches sleep altogether and goes for a joyride instead?

Next page: Can’t spell God without Godelina

[page]Weather Saints and Non-Sinners

Dead guys (and gals) posthumously honored with the title of “Saint” have been pretty busy sitting up in and steering clouds.  France has a trio of Saints steering clouds: Saint Medard, Saint Gervase, and Saint Protais. 

Saint Godelina is a Dutch weather saint.  After her unfortunate death by strangulation, she achieved a double-major in patronage.  She can help bring the cold weather and rid your resulting soar throat.

Next page: All hail Dr. George!










[page]Dr. George Fishbeck

“No man knows the future and Saturday is very far away,” sayeth the prophet of weather, Dr. George Fishbeck.  Through the 1970s and ’80s, starting in Albuquerque and eventually landing in L.A., Dr. George was the television weatherman par-excellence.  The bow-tie style, the Mr. Rogers friendliness, the physical exuberance of a silent-film star, Dr. George knows weather and wants you to know it too.  He long ago retired, but those of us who paid close attention to his forecasts, we know who really controls the weather.  Dr. George, a big winter filled with an abundance of powder snow, that is our humble request.

Next page: Back to Go

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