Is it possible to predict how hard a Winter will be?
Can someone predict what a Winter will be like based on a wooly worm's color, or the size of acorns. It's been said that a black wooly worm means a hard Winter, and a brown wooly worm means that there will be a mild Winter, while the bigger the acorn is then the harder the winter will be.
In England they say the size of the Oak Leaf from an Oak tree indicates what sort of winter is ahead. This years autumn Oak leaves are large and deep green. To people who believe this theory it means the winter ahead is going to be wet with many days of cold and heavy rain.
No doubt that the weather scientists will be able to forecast with some form of accuracy the nature of what lies ahead though quite rightly, they would stress that their forecasts are subject to fluctuations of many types including Regional variations and that they should only be taken as a very general overview for the period covered.
Probably every bit as accurate are the old fashioned country folk observations from less technological times. For example, in UK currently we have large quantities of berries in the hedgerows and gardens. We notice wood pigeons devouring as much as they can. Some are getting so fat they have difficulty taking off for flight now. Country folklore states this is the harbinger of a long and harsh winter, as does the theory about oak leaves. The months ahead will be approached by ourselves with this very much in mind. By March 2013 we will be able to confirm indeed if this is fact or just fancy produced by some old country character years and years ago that others took up and repeated so often that it became part of the country dwellers fabric of life.
Many berries - notably brambles - in the South East were spoilt, never properly grown due to lack of sunshine and excess rain during what passed for summer around London and Essex (no doubt elsewhere in the region). It might be 'where's the birdie?'
Hmm !Essex is in the South East and we have no shortage of berries here. Mind you for the first time for years, the mature Oak Tree just outside our garden has produced neither acorns or oak apples this year, so maybe the wetter summer has struck..
It is possible. I define "possible" as one that a person can think of. Whether it is true or not is another story. Prediction in the framework of science is probable. An assertion that is capable of verification is probable.
I understand "hard winter" as one with a lower temperature than that of the past winter. Suppose winter is a function of temperature and particles in the atmosphere. Particles include fine grains of coal soot and charcoal dust. So, the formula would be:
Winter = temperature + particles
It used to be that temperature is lower during winter. Let us suppose that the winter temperature of last year will be the same for the forthcoming winter. Suppose temperature is a function of the angle of sun rays on the surface of the earth.
Particles have a cooling effect in climate, according to Stephen H. Schneider in his book "Science as a Contact Sport" (2009). Schneider is one of the recipients of Nobel Prize for Peace in 2007 (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) along with Al Gore and other scientists, two of them are Filipinos. In contrast, carbon dioxides have a warming effect. Suppose there are more particles released to the atmosphere this year from the use of coal and charcoal as fuel.
Therefore, it is probable that the coming winter will be harder. This is the prediction.
Prediction is one of the possibilities. This is contrary to the position of some climate change scientists that we cannot predict future climate change. For example, the prediction is that if carbon dioxide load of the atmosphere were doubled, temperature would rise by 1.5 degree F.
I may write a Hub on the plausibility of prediction that involves philosophy of science.
In Bulgaria we know that if the common thorn (the one that donkeys eat) blooms again at Fall, the winter will be very cold.
If the summer is very sunny and the land dries, we expect very snowy winter.
Most of this is superstition and seasons turn in their own terms though
I do think that the behavior of plants and animals around us can definitely give indication about what type of winter we will have. I've heard that when squirrels and similar animals are bushier than normal it means a hard winter, and have also heard the acorn thing. If these are true, I'd say winter's gonna be a doozy this year.
Yes it is possible to predict how hard a winter will be and this is the only way...make several predictions about how hard the winter will be and chances are one will come true....TaDa you are a prophet...that is how it is done. No other method can reliably predict most anything just ask the "psychic network" why they didn't predict they were going to go bankrupt.
There is no way to prove any prediction is nothing more than a good guess or chance hit, even if the predictor has never been wrong. That fact in itself is still not proof he/she can predict any single event although in that case I wouldn't bet against him/her.
I don't think that these traditional methods have much skill, nor is there much logic to them: how would the worm, or the acorn 'know' what is to come this winter?
I can predict that it will be a hard winter somewhere this year: the extremely low Arctic sea ice extent--15% or so below the previous lowest record, which is a *lot*--will likely mean circulatory changes in the atmosphere which will bring Arctic air south.
Trouble is, where? Somewhere else will have a mild winter where the deepened meanders of the jet stream bring tropical air further north than usual. That, I think, is not yet amenable to forecast.
I recently read an article that climatologists have gone on record as saying it is too late for saving the planet from the effects of climate change. The best we can do is ameliorate the consequences, and try not to make the wrath of nature worse that it is. Predictors look at such things as the temperature of the Pacific to see whether an El Nino condition might take a lead. But, I think most weather predictors would have to agree that the accuracy of their studies and observations carry less weight now that the planet has altered conditions due to climate change. I have a feeling we've only seen the tip of the ice berg.
I've been told various ways. We used to have an old gentleman called Bill Foggitt who came from near Thirsk in North Yorkshire who had several ways of 'seeing' what the winter would be like, such as watching out for the abundance of berries on female holly bushes (they come in 'male' and 'female') and other winter-berrying bushes.
Squirrels look fatter before they hibernate - I've seen a lot of fairly hefty grey squirrels here - and start earlier than other animals to prepare for winter. We hardly ever got more than a basketful of walnuts from our tree, even in September, before I trimmed it back. Squirrel activity is worth watching out for. Other animals can be seen scurrying around for fruits to lay down (like we lay down bottles of wine in our cellars).
Also the predominance of easterly winds in Western Europe is a giveaway; northerly winds in the US and Canada, I'd say.
We also had a weather man (Met Office employed) called Michael Fish, who confidently told a woman on the phone 'We don't have hurricanes in Britain' hours before one struck from the South West and ripped across southern England in the mid-80's!
Like many things, weather forecasting and the technology available to those involved has progressed tremendously since 1987 and poor, hapless Mr Fish.
I don't believe that any of these venerable old saws have any scientific validity. Please correct me if there are. Even scientific weather forecasting is tough, because even though meteorology has gotten so much better with satellites, long term is a tuffy. Please tell me that I'm wrong and some kind of caterpiller predicts we'll have a mild winter in the Northeast. I need some good news this week.
I've always heard that when the squirrels start stock piling nuts and acorns early on, to look out because it's going to be a rough winter. I'm also going to keep an eye out for the other suggestions that are in the answers here.
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