Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Want snow? Wear pajamas inside out

A friend of mine advised me on Sunday that we'll be getting more snow, in about 10 days.

Penny doesn't pay attention to the computer models or any other long-range forecasting tool. She based her forecast on folk legend.

I've learned there's no shortage of folk legends, especially when it comes to snow in the South.

Penny's forecast of snow later next week is based on the weather proverb that says, "If it rains with snow on the ground, more snow is coming." We still had plenty of patches of snow and ice on the ground Monday night when the rain started falling. So I guess that means we'll have another round of wintry precipitation in about 10 days.

Maybe the strangest proverbs I've heard came from a student in the Sunday school class I teach. My daughter and I have a group of 18 extremely bright eighth-graders, and after class on the night of Jan. 9 (a week ago Sunday), I started talking to a seventh-grader from another class.

Cassie Rowell informed me that students believe they'll get a snow day if they wear their pajamas inside out at night, or if they leave a spoon under their pillows. She planned to do both that night.

There are many others, of course.

Probably the most famous is Groundhog Day. If the groundhog sees its shadow on Feb. 2, it means six more weeks of winter. We'll examine that issue on Groundhog Day, but suffice to say the theory doesn't hold up very well under scientific study.

When I moved to the South more than three decades ago, I was told that thunder in winter was followed by snow, 10 days later. There's a bit of support for that, since thunder in the winter usually accompanies strong cold fronts, and if really cold air is pouring in, it sets the stage for a winter storm. But I looked at four cases in recent years, and none of them panned out.

Another one ... the number of August fogs equals the number of snowfalls in winter. National Weather Service records show one significant fog event in August for Charlotte, and snow already has fallen twice (three times, if you count the snow-sleet event of Dec. 16). so forget that one.

An interesting tale I heard recently was that thunder in February means frost in April -- on the same date. In other words, if there's a thunderstorm on Feb. 10, there'll be frost on April 10. I'll have to watch for that.

One saying that makes plenty of sense is "A year of snow, a year of plenty." A lot of snow in the winter means groundwater supplies will be replenished when the snow melts. And that puts the soil in good shape for spring planting.

Personally, I'll stick with the Global, European and Canadian computer models. I've got nothing against the wisdom of those who came before me, but science seems a bit better-grounded.

Then again, Cassie Rowell's inside-out-pajamas and spoon-under-the-pillow trick worked. We got 4 inches of snow on Jan. 10, and she was out of school for several days.


Anonymous said...

If it snows in ten days I dance naked in it.

Scott said...

Don't forget about flushing ice cubes in the toilet, which I had never heard of until I moved to Charlotte. I shudder to think why kind of snow THAT would create.

Anonymous said...

You had to mention Groundhog Day and bring flashbacks of all those classic lines.

"But what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."

Anonymous said...

Not sure about thunder in February relating to frost in April, but don't we usually have one final frost in April?

Andrea said...

Oh, yeah, my high school students used to walk by my room at the end of the school day if we thought we might have a snow day the next day and say "Don't forget, Ms. D. -- jammies inside out tonight!" I still do it in solidarity of my NY teacher friends occasionally---and they don't have to make up their snow days!

Anonymous said...

If the ground doesn't get dry enough there won't be any spring planting.Tractor is mired up in the mud now.

Anonymous said...

Andrea, they don't actually have "make-up" days but they do have to go to school so many days a year. They just plan for at least so many snow days and if they don't use them all...they get out earlier in the summer. If they use more than the allotted....they tag it onto the end of the school year. I'm from Maine and they usually plan for 7-10 days depending on the district.

Anonymous said...

I always heard that a lot of granddaddy longleg spiders in the summer and fall means a bad winter. That must be true; there was a surplus of them this summer here in Gaston County. And my maw-maw always said: "If the snow lays around for three days, it is waiting on more."

Anonymous said...

Hey, what about those wooly worms? What did they have to say about winter weather for this year?

Anonymous said...

I think I will stick with the computer models as well. Right now the 00UTC GFS shows a cold front coming through on the 25th, followed by Northwest flow and a weak clipper system around the 28th, which would be day 10.


10 day forecasts are tricky by I think they tend to be more accurate than the folk legends.

Anonymous said...

am i the only former northerner who remembers being able to smell snow in the air before it actually snowed? i couldn't describe the smell anymore, but we all knew it when i was growing up in buffalo, and i have encountered it 2 or 3 times as an adult.

Anonymous said...

Well there was a Thunderstorm in Huntersville,NC at 5:30am on 5/5/2011 So snow is in the forcast for Wed-Thurs. So now can you tell me how much where going to get since the models are pointing to all snow.