The science of meteorology produces forecasts that are impressive in both their advance warning and their accuracy but Appalachian areas like Harlan County have some age old weather predictors of their own.
-Woolly Worms- Each fall, mountain people examine wooly worms for clues about the upcoming winter. Black segments on their body foretell snow and cold. Brown segments call for milder conditions.
-Lying Snow- When snow lies in the mountains instead of melting away, it’s waiting for more snow to fall. Some even say it’s calling in new snow.
-Christmas Countdown- If you count the days between the first snow of the season and Christmas Day, that’s how many snows there will be during the winter.
-Foggy Fall- For each foggy day in August, there will be a snow in winter.
-Squirreling Away- In the fall, pay attention to how hard squirrels are working to collect nuts. Hard working squirrels are a sign of a bad winter.
-Eat your Veggies- Onions and Corn have thicker skins and husks when a bad winter is coming. The produce must be locally grown for the most accurate forecast.
-Spoons and Knives and Forks OH MY!- Open a persimmon and half the seeds. A spoon shape means you’ll be shoveling snow. A knife means piercing cold temperatures. A fork means winter will be mild. Only local persimmons can give you the local forecast. If you’re going to eat this weather wise fruit, make sure you’ve plucked it after the first frost!
While we’re grateful that we don’t have to rely on these clues in the same way generations of Harlan Countians before us did, it’s still fun to test out the old ways and to guess at what winter may bring. Regardless of the weather, adventure awaits in Harlan County with year round off-roading, historical tours, hiking, and more!