Are We In For a Rough Winter?

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - Not everyone needs radar to predict the weather.
East Tennessee folklore tells you just look at the plants and animals.

Now the old Farmers Almanac predicts a hot first week in August will bring buckets or should we say shovels full of snow this winter.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy spoke to climatologists and farmers to try to separate fact from folklore.

Some common weather folklore for you: Pigs gather leaves and straw before a storm and for every fog in August, there'll be a snowfall in winter. Climatologists say there's no harm believing it, but just don't entirely run your business by it.

Call it farmer folklore. Call it farmer forecasting. Either way, Farmer Jack Ritter doesn't buy it completely.

"I don't believe in astrology. I don't believe in fortune telling. I follow the Lord and what the Lord tells me to do," Ritter said.

But he's heard stories of how to predict weather for these green guys.

"I don't even remember which one is which. That's how much I've paid attention to it," Ritter said.

Now the Old Farmer's Almanac predicts if the sun cranks up the heat more than usual the first week of August. Then we'll see plenty of this stuff come winter.

"I don't know about one week affecting the entire winter. I don't know," Ritter said.

Neither does U-T climatologist JoAnne Logan.

"Personally, being a scientist, I've looked at some studies, there doesn't seem to be much basis for the folklore," Logan said.

That doesn't mean farmers should abandon every page of their time-tested almanac or personal crop climatology...

"Because when people are in an area for a long time they do get a feeling for what change in the weather might happen," Logan said.

And this producer of Grainger County's popular produce has seen some folklore become fact.

"Thunder in February, frosting in May. I've heard that all my life. My grandmother and grandfather used to tell me that. It's held true for many years," Ritter said.

But when Ritter really wants to know what'll happen to his tomatoes.

"I get my weather forecast each day from the Internet," Ritter said.

He does plant his tomatoes by Almanac guidelines, but says this book won't ever substitute the Good Book.

"I plant and I water and the Lord gives the increase," Ritter said.

We spoke with about a half-dozen farmers also on the phone. All them say they don't pay much attention, if any at all, to weather folklore.

However, something that is fact is the short-term drought is over. For July, we've gotten about five inches of rain. That's how much we typically get this month. However, the long-term deficit continues.
We're still more than a foot below where we should be for this calender year.


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