By Paula Dunn
Here it is — this year’s winter weather forecast column!
Before I get started, though, I want to issue the usual disclaimer: I don’t really forecast the winter weather. I just provide data from the folk signs that Sheridan’s weather expert, Clara Hoover, used to create HER forecasts.
I’ll leave it to you to make sense of all this.
The first sign Clara always noted is the number of fogs in August. According to her, we can expect as many big snows as there were foggy August days.
I used the WISH-TV fog maps for the fog count. The maps showed fog in Hamilton County four times: August 4, 10, 19, and 26.
On the first two dates, fog was reported in just a small corner of the county. On August 19, it was only in the east half of the county and on August 26, it only appeared in the west half.
I’m counting four fogs, but since the entire county wasn’t covered on any of those days, I’m not sure about that.
The next important sign is the direction of the wind the day before the autumn equinox, the day of the equinox and the day after. For this I used timeanddate.com, which displays local daily weather conditions at midnight, 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m.
According to Clara, the wind direction the day before the equinox shows what to expect in November and December. January and February’s weather is foretold by the wind on the equinox. The third day predicts March and April’s weather.
The wind was incredibly easy to track this year (and a little scary, given the directions.)
On September 22, the wind blew from the east all day. On the equinox, September 23, it came from the east/northeast at midnight and from the northeast the rest of the day. On September 24, the wind was recorded from the northeast, north/northeast, north and east.
On Clara’s chart, a north wind foretells cold weather, a northeast wind means heavy snow and a northwest wind predicts blizzard conditions. An east wind is wet cold, a west wind is an indication of cooler weather and a south wind forecasts fair weather. A southwest wind points to fair and cooler weather.
(For some reason she didn’t leave an interpretation for a southeast wind.)
The wooly worm and persimmon seed signs were all over the place.
Clara interpreted black wooly worms as a sign of cold weather, brown ones as fair weather and white ones as an indication of more snow than usual.
Jeanne Flanders, who also helped with the fog count, observed a black wooly worm that was brown on each end and another that was gold. (I don’t know what to make of that since gold isn’t on Clara’s chart.)
My Anonymous Friend spotted three black ones, but they were all in neighboring counties, so I don’t know if they should be counted.
Bonnie Blasser saw a brown wooly worm, which she threw in for good measure along with her persimmon seed report.
Bonnie thought the persimmon seed she split looked kind of like feathers. To me, one side resembles a spoon with an extra handle and the other appears to be a spoon with a bite out of it.
None of those images are on Clara’s chart. According to Clara, a spoon shape means many snows, knives forecast fair weather and forks predict bitter cold.
The seed split by my other persimmon seed expert, Steve Owens, showed more traditional images — a spoon and two knives.
My cousin (and Clara’s granddaughter,) the Dancing Librarian, suggested that maybe the signs are trying to tell us this year’s winter weather will be a “mixed bag.”
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this column!
– Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears on Wednesdays in The Times. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org