Its back!!! The squirrley acorn theory!

Good Morning,

    Back by popular demand.  Its the Winter forecast based on natural indicators, specifically squirrels and acorns across western Missouri and eastern Kansas.



  Before I go forward let me bring you up to speed on how I arrived at this nutty outlook.


     Back in August 2008, I was pruning my Pin Oak trees (one of the trees is pictured above) and I noticed there were no acorns, not one on any of the branches.  These are well established, healthy trees.  I thought it weird because I had never seen the trees not produce acorns.   I did notice an over abundance of  walnuts and large hedge apples.   The hedge apples were greater than 3 inches in diameter, big enough for a squirrel to find them in light snow cover.  Anyway,  someone told me Pin Oaks only produce acorns every other year.  So I thought that might be why I didn’t have any acorns.  But I could never remember an August with no acorns on the trees.  Anyway, that Winter we had only 12.4 inches of snow with the greatest snow depth of three inches.

      Then August 2009 came and the tree produced more acorns then I had even seen.  I also noticed the squirrels were burying acorns at an astonishing rate.  Well, that winter, we had 34.5 inches of snow with the greatest snow depth of 9 inches for several days in January.  That happened again in 2010.  A lot of acorns.  A lot of snow.  36.4 inches of snow during the Winter of 2010-2011.  The greatest snow depth that Winter was 9 inches of snow following the February 2011 blizzard.

   So last year, I decided to have fun with these observations and the Squirrels seemed to be a kind of barometer of what was ahead. 


   Here is what I wrote last year.  “ Well, based on my past observations, I would go out on a limb and forecast a below average snowfall season, maybe 18 inches of snow.  At no time would the snow depth be greater than 4 inches and on top that below average precipitation between December 1st and February 29th.  There may also be several stretches of mild, above average temperatures right through the Winter.”

    I forecasted too much total snowfall but otherwise, wow that was remarkably close.  We never had more than two inches of snow on the ground.  It was a very warm Winter and precipitation was below average.  It could have very well have been a coincidence so lets test nature again see what happens for the Winter of 2012-2013. 


   This year there are more acorns both on the trees and on the ground.  But still not as many as 2009 or 2010.  Here is a closer look at one of the branches of my Oak tree.

  The nuts are slightly smaller this year but there are twice as many on each branch as last year, but not as many as 2009 or 2010.  Last year it was suggested the shortage of acorns was due to the unusually dry Summer.  If that’s true then why with even less precip this Summer are we seeing any acorns at all?   Because the number of acorns on a tree has nothing to do with moisture but more to do with nature taking care of its own.  Speaking of nature, the squirrels have been digging a little more, storing slightly more of a supply but still no where near as much as the very snowy Winters.  They also seem to be getting busy a little earlier than normal.  Interestingly, earlier this year, the day before Isaac and its rains showed up the squirrels were very active gathering acorns and re-enforcing their tree nests.        What does all this mean?  Well here goes!


     Its going to snow more this year than last year.  That won’t be hard, last year we netted just above 4 inches of snow for the entire season.  Despite the appearance of more acorns, I am still going to go with a below average snowfall total of 16 inches of snow.  While there are more acorns this year, there are not as many acorns when compared to years that have produced average or above average snowfalls.  An average snowfall year would yield 21.3 inches of snow.  So below average snowfall.

     I do think however, we could have 5 or more inches of snow on ground for at least a couple of days sometime this Winter.  And based on the squirrels early activity I’ll go out on a limb and predict our first one inch of snow will fall around December 1st.  But overall, the Winter of 2012 to 2013 will have below average precipitation with the drought persisting through February 2013.  As for temperatures, they are going to be above average again this year but colder than last Winter.  In fact, we should see 4 or 5 very cold stretches that last 2 to 3 days at a time.  I think we will have at least one day below zero.  Any ice storms?  The squirrels say, NO! 

   So there you have it.  Let me know what you think.  Let me know if you think natural indicators such as persimmon seeds or woolly bears, the moss on trees or the thickness of your cat’s coat. 

Have a great day,


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32 comments to Its back!!! The squirrley acorn theory!

  • greek

    Fantastic blog. I have much more confidence in the squirrely acorn theory than the LCR or the NWS forecasts.

  • Careful Milton/Brett, you might get the office moved to “Storage B”. :D Should be interesting to see this one! I hope we have decent winter.

  • Weatherfreak01

    I have noticed the squirrels here in LS grabbing nuts like crazy. It seems like there are a lot more trying to get killed by cars carrying acorns back and forth across the road. It is starting to annoy my as it seem like every morning I am having to dodge a dumb squirrel or two.

  • I believe next years EMMY should go the squirrels…Did I just start something??? Back to you ROCKY…

  • Micah

    Awesome forecast, Brett! And I love reading about your observations. The squirrels were hitting my bird feeders quite hard pre-Isaac but less so since then. In fact, they’ve hardly been around, which is unusual. I’ll have to start watching my pecan tree to see if it shows similar results to your pin oak.

  • Brick Tamland, That,s the most intelligent post off the year…

  • Dobber

    Brett, in your bog you said ” It was a very warm Winter and precipitation was below average.” Gary has been touting on this blog all year saying that last winter was actually above average for precipitation, Thus showing the validity of the LRC. He refers to the few times it rained last winter. I have been saying that the drought has been going on since last Fall. I have no bias in saying this, I am not trying to prove my “theory”. Care to inject your thoughts?

    • Winter precip was above average thanks to a few heavier events but there were a lot of dry stretches or storms that produced very little rainfall. I guess it was my perception that it was drier.

  • mukustink

    Brett great blog! Thanks for putting the time into your blog post. I can tell it took some time to put it together and it was worth the read!! Have a great weekend.

  • Actually, I believe it,s another form of ethnic cleansing…Looking back in history…Trees have been trying to control this planet from day 1…Adam and Eve got into trouble with the Apple tree…Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz, also had a run in…Oaks have adapted to there cousins,the Apples, hatred…I think we,as a human race,should launch a preempted strike against these plants before they take over this planet !!!

  • yewtrees

    Thank you so much ,Brett, for writing this beautiful blog. You have quite interesting observation and a sense of humors. Could you ask Gary to take a little longer vacation so that you can continue entertain us? Oops, I didn’t say that!!! :)

  • Fred Souder

    Great Blog!
    My oak trees are producing early, and the squirrels started early as well. October Surprise?

  • Jerry

    Awesome blog, Brett — I love it.

    I think your theory has at least as much, if not more, credibility than any other long-range forecasting technique touted in these parts.

  • willy

    I have also observed lots of action in Lee’s Summit. It’ easy to find the trees that the squirrels seem to be systemically harvesting, just look for small branches and leaves on the ground. We have also noticed considerably more fox activity. They are getting pretty aggressive. Foxes are jumping fences to get into our yard about 3 yards from a creek / common area. They have even taken a squirrel under an Oak tree 10 feet from our walk out basement. Well, they left us the head…

  • trinlivco

    Great post Brett, wildlife can tell you alot about the weather. Long time hunters can watch wildlife and they will let you know whats going to happen weather wise. More so than some so called weather people. Yes thier are lots of acorns this year and the squirrels have been real busy. O.K here goes my shot playing weatherman based on squirrel activity, some snow in Oct. and lots of snow this winter 20″ plus in north Missouri and pretty cold, below average temps. Bet I do no worse than a real weatherman. Thanks TR

  • sedsinkc

    Brett, you can’t do worse than the predictions other TV mets in KC made last winter. Last year’s predictions, other than yours, were bad to awful. After the extremely unusual winter we had last year, it’s simply common sense to predict we’ll have colder weather and more snow this winter. But nice to see the wildlife agrees. Quantitatively, it’s too early to predict snowfall amounts. In part it will depend on how wet the winter is. But due to El Nino I’ve had a thought that the I-44 corridor will have more snow than KC.

  • wannabe

    That is the nuttiest forecast I have ever read!

  • cornstalk

    My bets would be on the squirrels being more accurate than the LRC.

  • StormyWX

    I don’t know if this has ever been mentioned or if you guys actually do this, but have you ever thought about just AVERAGING your snowfall totals prediction from the four of you? The snowfall forecast is generally only Gary’s, with everyone else chipping in and giving their own predictions, but never before (I at least believe) have the four of you just combined all of your forecasts and averaged them out. I would think that would be slightly more accurate then collaborating together about the forecasting using the LRC, then going essentially off of what only Gary thinks the forecast will do.

    Now I’m not trying to dog on Lezak or anything, I’m just stating my own personal opinion on what I think would work better.

  • JohnNCWX

    We didnt get a single snowflake in the Charlotte area last year, despite all the acorns. Due to the non-winter there is a complete lack of any nuts on the trees this year. I wonder what that will mean? Hopefully its an inverse relationship to what your nutty forecast is suggesting. The leaves are also changing really early here…once again due to the non-winter/early spring I assume. At the rate they’re changing I would expect the trees to be bare come mid-late october. Peak leaf season in our part of the piedmont isnt until early november for reference. Its already starting to look very nice on the hillier areas around the city!

  • mamaof3girls

    I have 4 pin oak trees and deal with 100’s of squirrels and agree 100% with your thoughts. Go Brett!! :)

  • mukustink

    Ok fellow bloggers is it just my eyes going bad or did Ms. Dubil have breast reduction surgery? She isn’t busting out of her shirts like she use to it appears to me. What are your thoughts?

  • Kansa


    I had been thinking of your theory recently and was very happy to see this blog entry about your thoughts for this year! Your forecast last year based on natural indicators was accurate and I’m interested to see if it’s accurate again this year.

    Thanks so much!

  • krislauram

    We have a pin oak. Decent amount of acorns this year. Squirrels have been VERY busy, but only for the last week. It went from lazy to crazy around here. I’m watching junk fall from the trees as I type. They seem to cut bunches off and then run down to eat and bury them. It’s hard to keep the buggers out of my planters…you’d think they’d have enough ground to use, as we have a large back yard!