Tuesday, November 30

Wooly worm/persimmon seed forecast, 2021-2022

By Paula Dunn

Normally, I run the winter forecast column earlier than this, but everything seems to be late this year, weather-wise.

I’m not sure what that bodes for the winter ahead.

Sheridan’s expert at predicting the weather by folk signs, Clara Hoover, probably could have told us if she were still alive. Unfortunately, I don’t have her expertise. All I can do is provide the data Clara would have used and let you work out your own forecast.

We’ll start with the number of fogs in August. That’s how many big snows we’re supposed to get.

Since I live in the city and don’t always see fog that appears in the county’s lesser-populated areas, I based my count on the WISH-TV fog map. The map showed fog in at least some portion of Hamilton County on five days.

Jeanne Flanders, who lives out in the country, counted four fogs, though, so my count may be slightly off.

The wind directions around the autumn equinox are another important ingredient in Clara’s forecasts.

The wind direction the day before the equinox indicates what the weather will be in November and December, the wind on the equinox (September 22) forecasts January and February’s weather, and the wind the day after the equinox predicts conditions in March and April. 

Clara left a chart which states that a north wind means cold weather, a northeast wind forecasts heavy snow and a northwest wind points to blizzard conditions. A west wind predicts cooler weather, wind from the east indicates wet cold and a southern wind is a sign of fair weather. A southwest wind signals fair and cooler.

For some reason there’s no interpretation for a southeast wind. Luckily, that doesn’t matter this year.

I took the wind directions from timeanddate.com. That website displays each day’s weather conditions at midnight, 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m.

On September 21, the wind came from the south, south, west/northwest and west/northwest. On September 22, the wind was from the north, north/northeast, northwest and north/northwest. On September 23, the directions were west/northwest, west, northwest and west.

I’m not sure how to interpret September 21, but a north wind clearly predominated on September 22, while the main direction on September 23 was west.

The usual hordes of wooly worms crossing country roads in September were missing this year — were they eaten by birds who missed our bird feeders this summer? — so I was afraid we might not get any wooly worm sightings, but three people came through.

Marilyn Conner spotted a brown wooly worm, and one with black ends and a brown middle. Bonnie Zarins saw a similar two-toned wooly worm, as did Lisa Hayner. Lisa also encountered a brown wooly worm and a very small black one.

Clara’s chart says brown wooly worms mean fair weather, black ones foretell cold and white ones predict snow. (She didn’t cover the two-tones, but I know some people would interpret those as the winter starting and ending cold, and being fair in the middle.)

Finally, the persimmon seeds . . . 

Of the two seeds Bonnie Zarins split, three of the halves distinctly displayed spoon shapes. The fourth could either be a spoon or a knife.

Steve Owns’ two persimmons produced a knife, a couple of forks and the rest showed spoons. (He added that this appears to be a good year for plump, juicy persimmons!)

According to Clara, spoons indicate many snows, knives mean fair weather and forks point to bitter cold. (It seems like maybe the knife and fork interpretations should be reversed, but this is what’s on Clara’s chart, so I’m sticking with it.)

Darn those persimmon seeds! At least there were no white wooly worms.

Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears on Wednesdays in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com

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