According to the Web site of the Farmers’ Almanac, some weather sayings “are more often true than not.” They are:
* A large halo around the moon indicates a cirrus cloud forming and approaching rain or snow.
* Smoke that curls downward and lingers means an approaching storm.
* A veering wind (to the north) is a sign of fair weather, and a backing wind (to the south) means rain.
* Rain is most frequent at the turn of the tide, if the air is humid.
Some predict the winter weather by woolly worms and crickets, others by the thickness of the skins of onions pulled from the garden. But gaining an accurate long-range forecast is a little like asking a question of the Magic 8 Ball.
“There’s no system down on woolly worms yet,” joked meteorologist Allison Chinchar of WTVC NewsChannel 9.
The National Weather Service, from which the station’s team of meteorologists gets its upcoming winter forecast, “does a much better job of predicting,” she said.
Local amateur forecaster Don Seagle, known for predicting weather via charts marked with parabolic curves indicating weather patterns, said it looks like we’ll be seeing more snow and ice this year than last, when he predicted frozen precipitation in January, February, March and April.
“We hit all those except for April,” he said.
This year’s dates for either ice or snow, he said, are within 24 hours of March 10, April 9 and April 24 in both the Chattanooga and North Georgia areas. And he thinks the chances of getting snow and/or ice are “better this year than last,” he said.
Mr. Seagle said his charts accurately predicted the blizzard of 1993 and a major ice storm and two snows in 1996.
SNOW OR NO SNOW?
Not all forecasts are as bright for snow lovers.
Winter doesn’t start until the week before Christmas and lasts through February, but most weather watchers consider November part of winter, Ms. Chinchar said. Temperatures during that time usually range from highs in the 50s and 60s to lows in the 20s to 40s. And, she said, prognosticators are predicting temperatures will hold fairly steady.
“Precipitation in November and December looks like it will be normal,” she said. “And typically we don’t see snow in this area until January and February.”
However, she said, the outlook for precipitation is supposed to be above normal from the middle of December into February. Don’t look for a blizzard, though.
“As we head into January and February, temperatures will be above normal,” Ms. Chinchar said.
So no snow, “unless we get a strong system out of Canada,” she said.
But don’t give up on snow if that’s what you want this winter. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that our area will see some snowfall in late December and early January, with temperatures expected to be a couple of degrees colder than last winter, spokeswoman Ginger Vaughan said.
Making the forecast for the almanac involves a mixture of three methods, Ms. Vaughan said. They include the latest in weather technology — solar sciences and Doppler radar — combined with a method of the past that has remained a company secret since the publication first was published by Robert B. Thomas in 1792.
“The secret hides in a black lockbox beneath our editor’s desk,” she said. And though she admits to never having been privy to the secret, she said no one there “uses folklore at all. It’s a scientific method, I do know that.”