Monday, November 28, 2011

Twelve Days in a Year: Weather Prediction

It is widely known that Canadians are always concerned...some say obsessed... with the weather . Why not ?! We have a lot of it.  This post may confirm that opinion.

You may have heard of the Twelve Days of Christmas . But golden rings, calling birds and the upper class cavorting in splendor have little to do with weather prediction.

The Twelve Days of Christmas are not the shopping days prior to the Day of gift giving. I am referring to the 12 days from Christmas Day (12:00am) until Little Christmas (12:00am)- December 25 until January 6 . The ancients of folklore used these days to determine planting , hunting and fishing times for the coming year.

For purists who want to leave religion and celebrations out of things , and probably more to right , start those twelve days at a natural beginning to the new year - The Winter Solstice , December 22. It is the shortest day ( mostly night ) . From that point on , the seconds and minutes of sunlight begin to increase. There are only a few minutes difference between Dec.22 and 25.

More than likely, the really,really ancient used that point in time . As is often the case , religion co-opted ancient ceremonies and habits to their own use.

Whichever you choose...for whatever reason.., have your brand new calender ready to record some observations. Each of the twelve days corresponds to one month of the year. 1st day=January; 2nd day =February etc. Simply write what you see happening at the head of each month page during each of the predictor days.

What you can do is compare to what is normal. Feel free to consult the weather person or website for your area if you don't have records for the past. Tut , tut ! Doesn't everyone have these? ;)

Record the weather every day: temperatures , precipitation and any outstanding conditions. If you are ambitious, divide each day into four parts to determine when during the month , temperature/precipitation changes will occur: 12:00am-6:00am; 6:00am-12:00pm; 12:00pm-6:00pm; 6:00pm-11:59pm.
The weather department will tell you what you missed while you were sleeping.

A little comparison of these more detailed observations might prove interesting in relationship to the full moon - another ancient time monitor for living schedules.

Have some fun with it. Get your family/friends involved . Remember that this will be very specific to your area. Weather persons and almanacs talk of broader regions . They can't get as close up and personal as the Twelve Days where you live.

Next year , after you have tested the accuracy of this prediction method , come back to this post and leave us a comment .

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I Have Been Told About This Winter

As I explained in the post " It Came At Last " The first full snow fall , not dustings or flurries that never reach the ground , were used to predict winter.

Ours stayed on the ground for two and a half days before it was taken by unusually warm temperatures. That means , if folklore is correct , that we will have only two major winter storms this winter. Warmer temperatures will prevail.

The Woolly Bears around here this year had very wide brown stripes. That should mean very a mild winter compared to the norm.

This past summer the hornet nests were built as high as 8-10 feet from the ground. That is supposed to indicate a mild winter with plenty of deep snow.

I really don't put too much stock in that predictor .Hornet/wasps in these parts have been long gone or died in the first cold snap. They are not even around here in the cold months so are more likely building for the weather while they are living in the nest.

I guess only time will tell who is right  ...or wrong. We'll have to wait for the bear to turn ...or for the February groundhog -to find out for sure.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Woolly Bears

Since my Dad showed me the woolly bear- a popular name for the caterpillar of the Isabella Moth- or pyrrharctia isabella- , it has always been my predictor for the winter ahead.

The early fall is full of woolly bears . That's a good thing when you want a hint of the coming winter. Is it coincidence that there is a hint of 'arctic' in its name ? I don't really know for sure . But it seems so.

The prediction , as folklore would have us believe, is in the brown stripe around its middle. I thought only a few people used this delightful little creature to divine winter foresight . I was wrong...which isn't too unusual. Thanks to the Internet , I found out that there is a Woolly Bear Festival in Vermilion, Ohio, USA celebrating this fuzzy little caterpillar .

What they celebrate most is the pre-warning it gives about the winter ahead .They even have an official chart explaining how to read that stripe.

Give it a try with the woolly bears you see around your area.

Warning! Please examine the stripe before touching the caterpillar for an accurate reading. You know he will curl into a tight little ball and stretch that brown stripe a little wider. That won't make winter any milder. Ha ha!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It Came at Last

I slept in this morning a little. All was quiet when I awoke ... just muffled sounds of distant , very light traffic . It came at last. I jumped from bed and threw open the curtains. Our first snow. Everything was covered and it was still falling.
Still in my flannelet PJ's - which by the way happened to be printed with polar bears- I threw on my winter coat and slipped on my husband's winter gum boots.

Just as I have always done for who knows how many years , I needed to put my footprints in the fresh , new snow. There is something about being first.

It felt so good to press my mark into the First Snow . And it was perfect first snow . Thick , heavy and slightly wet.

How many kids today would be rolling their first snowman ?...or having their first snowball fight? ...or building their first snow fort in anticipation of future battles ?

Of course I wasn't the first one out as I had slept in .The usual morning sounds weren't there to get me out of bed. The alarm clock didn't penetrate the deep sleep of winter that I was in.

While I filled the bird feeder with seed , one chickadee appeared immediately . From the tree just inches away ,it chipped out an excited greeting .
I am sure it said " Where have you been? Don't you know that everything is covered and I couldn't find seed easily this morning? Thank you." I imagine that I speak chickadee very well.
I knew that the blue jays would be hot on their heels as they keep close watch on little birds who have that knack for finding a stash first.

I knew there was plenty of food still around the yard to feed ever-hungry birds .

 But , it is an annual thing with me to share a feast of celebration for the first snow with the birds that are so delightful to watch during the long months of winter.

When I walked around to the front of the house a reminder that winter would be long ,stood silently in the driveway.

How much snow would fall this winter and how often would we have to shovel?

The answer was laying on the ground. You see , the special thing about the first snow is that it will tell you how bad/good the snowfall will be during the winter. A predictor.

The first snow usually never stays long . Temperatures warm up and it melts away.

How long it remains on the ground is a vital clue . Each day counts as one full storm - the big storms that change life.

One day= one huge storm ; two days= two huge storms ...and so on.

If it doesn't leave , keep the snowshoes handy.
If the rain takes it away , the winter will be mild and wet. No winter fun for you.
 Yes , some of you are probably right. There are few scientific studies that lift folklore into the realm of perfect accuracy. But I'll take 80 % and any 'heads up' that I can get.

I am curious , what are your winter predictors that help you get ready for the long haul?

Is it the wasp nests?

...or the woolly bears?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It Makes My Heart Ache

November 17 and the snows made an appearance . A little later this year than the norm . Climate change is definitely being felt as old patterns are disrupted more and more.

Finally , snow flurried around the skies today as the temperature dropped to near freezing during the afternoon where I currently live. It dusted things for a while but didn't cover the ground. In my book , that doesn't count as 'The First Snow' .

It must stay on the ground for at least a day.

It must collect deep enough to cover the ground.

It must be wet enough to roll the year's first snowman.

It must supply enough ammunition for the first snowball battle.

It must muffle the sounds of a busy world.

Alas , we didn't get The First Snow today but we did see the potential for it to happen very soon .

 However , just a few hours northeast of me , they got their First Snow.

Lenny Mannela took this beautiful picture of Herridge Lake this morning.

It captures that feeling that only this moment can give.

The powerful silence that descends over everything . My heart aches to be there...standing , watching and listening to all things living being quiet. No birds flying and calling. No movement on the water. No wind waking the world. Just that peace as the world accepts the blanket of snow and the change it brings.

Thank you Lenny for letting me share this photo.

For those not familiar with the coniferous forests in the north , as the weather cools and days shorten , the trees lose the green-ness and turn dark in colour. Under the blanket of snow ,the trees appear almost black. The dark waters of northern lakes become mirrors . Since this is an overcast day , there is no blue sky to reflect so the scene appears to be in black and white. Truly a breathtaking sight.

Amazing Nature: Frost Flowers

While I was viewing blogs I follow this morning , trying to catch up from my long absences , I came across this gem.

 Frost Flowers is about ice ribbons. Does that tempt your curiosity?

I had never seen or heard of such a thing. I wonder how many of you have.

Check out Bob and Barb's Blog : Springfield Plateau for a view of this amazing curiosity and great pics.

Their website

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This is what moose do in the summer occasionally. Thanks to the Ice Cream Lady's photo , wee get to see it too.

Not a bit of damage to the pool...amazing!