The Weather Channel, Farmers’ Almanac, and Snoring Cats

The Weather Channel has issued its winter forecast for 2014-2015, and it looks a bit different from last winter. 

This look at The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2014–2015 winter weather forecast map for the U.S. reflects the period of November 2014 through March 2015. 

A recent article considers our upcoming winter with the help of modern forecasting techniques and traditional Farmers’ Almanac prognostications. “Folklore says to expect a severe winter if geese migrate early, pine cones are bigger than normal, acorn shells are thick, and squirrels gather them early. The almanacs mutually claim over 80% accuracy weather forecasting. They agree this winter will be biting cold., BUT…”

The Farmers’ Almanac, Weather, and Snoring Cats
If you’re like many of us, you sit through the ten o’clock evening news, waiting for the weather forecast, and by the time the sports segment comes on, you realize you spaced right through the 3-D maps, Doppler radar, and the meteorologist in a suit who hypnotized you with terms like “la nina,” “inverted pressure system,” and “report from our school cam in Lone Tree.” 
I call to my wife, “Hey, I’m hoping to move those hay bales tomorrow. Did you catch the forecast?”  The Sudoku puzzle in her lap and pen in her hand have been decoys. She’s asleep. I’d check my smart phone if I had one, and I’m not in the mood to fire up the internet, so I grab the faithful tome on the end table next to the couch. The Farmers’ Almanac should be able to help me out, I reckon. Folks throughout the country have relied on the Almanac for more than 200 years to give them sound advice.
Their headline predictions for the coming winter seem a bit broad for my needs, so I look for other clues. Hmmm. Here’s one: “If your cat is snoring, expect foul weather.”  We have no house cat and my wife is not even purring in her sleep, so I’m not sure that helps much. I look down the list. “A fog in August indicates a severe winter and plenty of snow.”  It was too dry for much fog this past summer. I need something more tangible.
This next adage might help. “Trembling of aspen leaves in calm weather indicates an approaching storm.”  If only we had some aspen trees. We have an old oak tree in the front yard, and as I read on, I see something more promising, “If the oak is out before the ash, then we are in for a splash; but if the ash is out before the oak, we are in for a soak.”
I can’t remember what I had for supper let alone which trees leafed out earliest, but I like rhymes, so I continue with this set of weather predictors:
Finally, something specific. Now I just need to walk down the lane to the pasture and see which way the cows are lying.  But by the time I tie my laces, my wife is wide awake and asking me where I’m going in my boots and Homer Simpson footy pajamas. “Cows’ tails, huh. Hand me that Almanac,” she says. “I’ve heard that when readers are asked how well these old sayings do in predicting the weather, they get an 80% positive response. But when the scientists study the facts, it’s about a 50% rate. You need to know the weather for tomorrow? I’ll get you a coin to flip. Or wait. We’ve got cable. Let’s turn on the Weather Channel.”
She eventually hands the Almanac back to me, and it’s open to a page of quotes. The first one says, “There are forty kinds of lunacy, but only one kind of common sense.”   
by dan gogerty (top painting from betsyrosskoller and bottom photo from

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