When it comes to long-term forecasting, I like to leave things to Shubenacadie Sam, but on Thursday, I reluctantly went there: I put out my winter forecast. So many things can and do change and a slight wobble of the jet stream one way or another…can change everything. But I digress.
After writing the column, I was thinking back to my days on the farm and recalled one of the many wonderful observations Grandma made heading into winter.
You can do this…
The first thing you’ll need is a cat; there was never a lack of those on the farm. You’ll also need to know the phase of the moon – I will get to “why” in just a moment.
Then Grandma kept an eye on the ground; she was waiting for the first snow cover of the season. A light dusting wasn’t quite sufficient; there had to be enough snow on the ground to be able to see the cat’s tracks. The timing of that snowfall would help grandma calculate the number of times it would snow during the upcoming winter.
To the moon now: Grandma believed that if you took the date of the first snowfall in which you could see a cat’s tracks and added it to the age of the moon you would get the number of snowfalls for your area.
Figuring out the age of the moon is not difficult - the new moon is your starting point. The day after the new moon, the moon is one day old. The full moon is halfway through the 29 day cycle; the day before the next new moon, the moon is 29 days old.
Now this doesn’t tell you how much snow will fall just how many times it will snow. I’ve done this for several years and it always comes surprisingly close. Try it. I can’t say much about its connection to meteorology but it’s lots of fun.