Winter Ski Lift

Does Thunder in the Winter Mean Snow?

Weatherlore is an interesting, entertaining, centuries-old way to “predict” the weather, existing long before doppler radars were ever invented. Although most weatherlore is either too specific or too vague to accurately predict what the atmosphere will do. (A groundhog seeing its shadow will tell us when spring arrives? Really?)  Surprisingly, though, much of it tends to have at least a grain of truth.

For example, let’s take a look at this old wives’ tale: “Thunder in winter brings snow in seven days.”

As we know from the phenomenon of thundersnow, thunder and lightning during a snowstorm will indeed create a heavy snowfall. However, how can thunder by itself tell us what the weather will be like a week from now?  It can’t, of course, but the existence of thunder in the winter points to the existence of thunderstorms, and thunderstorms rely on an unstable atmosphere. Typically, this atmosphere will consist of cold air rushing in to displace warm air, so thunderstorms in the winter may indicate that a cold front is moving in. Whether or not that cold front will be followed by a system that produces snow can’t be accurately predicted, so it may be safer to say, “Thunder in winter brings cold weather.”  However, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, for states from the Plains to the East Coast, thunder in the winter will be followed by snow within a week about 70% of the time.


Weather Folklore Forecasts — Fact or Fiction?


If one weather adage is actually true more often than not, what does that say about other weather tales? Considering 2016 has been one of the warmest years on record and that many states have faced a warmer-than-usual fall season, when can we expect snow? Some of the following weatherlore may hold an answer:

●      If ant hills are high in July, winter will be snowy.

●      If the first week in August is unusually warm, the coming winter will be snowy and long.

●      For every fog in August, there will be a snowfall the following winter.

●      Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry will cause snow to gather in a hurry.

●      As high as the weeds grow, so will the bank of snow.

●      A green Christmas, a white Easter.

●      A warm October, a cold February.

●      If the first snowfall lands on unfrozen ground, winter will be mild.

●      A halo around the moon means it will rain or snow soon.

●      As many days old as is the moon on the first snow, there will be that many snowfalls by crop planting time.

●      See how high the hornet’s nest, ’twill tell how high the snow will rest.

●      The higher the muskrats’ holes are on the riverbank, the higher the snow will be.

●      Onion skins very thin, mild winter coming in; onion skins thick and tough, coming winter cold and rough.


What do you think? Do you find these tales have a grain of truth to them as well?