To predict the weather, watch clouds or watch critters



Well, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, so an early spring is on the way. … Or is it? It was a winter-defying feat for the poor critter anyway, as it was only about eight degrees outside. Who would want to go out in that to look for a shadow? Not me.

What does it mean for us? Not much, actually. Even if the magic of weather followed the groundhog’s shadow, it would probably just apply to northern Appalachia. After all, we are some 2,200 miles away from Phil. Tradition and old folklore play into an annual event that one gets to ponder for a day or so, and then back to reality we go. Besides, Phil has a fifty-fifty chance of being either right or wrong.

This leads us into old weather lore as sent to me by reader Jackie Beyea of Vancouver — an article on Four Faunal Forecasters. The article says Phil isn’t the only critter known to “predict” the weather.

What about the woolly bear caterpillar? We have lots of fun with these in this column. Crickets can indicate the current temperature, and are pretty accurate at that. “They” say that when birds fly low, expect some rain and wind. Yes, because air pressure decreases as a storm is on its way. Birds fly the path of least resistance — wouldn’t you?

And last but not least, when cows lie down expect rain. “They” say this is fiction, but many farmers swear by this one. The theory is, they sense the rain and lie down while there’s dry ground to lie on.

Most folklore is just for fun but some have some truth to them. See you on Tuesday!

Patrick Timm
is a local weather specialist. His column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at