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.
LAST YEAR’S FORECAST
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.
HERE IT IS, THIS YEAR’S ACORN WINTER WEATHER FORECAST
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!
THIS YEAR’S FORECAST
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,