Weather Predictions

In the waning hours of the mid term elections, I thought I would provide a brief respite from all of the sound and fury.  I though about this the other day when I awoke in Hillsboro, TX to find spider webs clinging to light poles, highline wires, radio antennas and just about everything.  Having read Charlotte’s Web as a child, I knew this meant the spiders had hatched and the tiny ones were being scattered to the wind, using thin strands of web for sails.

But, through another book I knew it meant something else.  The weather forecast for the next 3-5 days was clear, calm and dry.  The book I speak of is The Old Famers Almanac.

Now, I have never been a farmer, but my work of hauling oversized loads requires me to be parked by sunset in most states and The Almanac has a very handy guide for sunrise and sunset for most major metro areas.  I loved the pithy quotes they have sprinkled throughout and interesting stories, but the bedrock of The Almanac is long term weather forecasting.  Not too many weather computers existed when they began publishing in 1792, so they had to use other methods.

One issue I read years ago, the editor was addressing forecast methodology.  He explained the Old Farmers Almanac’s methods were proprietary and could not get into specifics, but maintained that coupled with new high tech computers, they keep one foot firmly planted in the past tried and true methods.  He explained that when a weatherman of a major metro area gets too many forecasts wrong, he gets bumped to a smaller market, but when insects and animals get it wrong, they die.

I recall as a child going to my Great Grandparents house in the country.  My Great Grandmother, Maude, would point to anthills,  “Look how tall those anthills are!  Gonna be a bad winter.”  A trip to the root cellar revealed mice nesting early.  “Gonna have a drought this summer.”  Yep.  Both times.

These observations have always fascinated me and with the hectic pace life flies by, we often miss what nature is saying.  The smallest town I have ever lived in had 270,000 people, and that was Riverside, CA.  Next week I’m closing on 8.5 acres in a town boasting a population of 289.

What clever observations do you know about when it comes to weather forecasting?  Let me know in the comments.

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