The State Climate Office is helping the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences celebrate Groundhog Day in 2013. Browse this webpage to learn about animal-weather folklore and link to more information to help you celebrate. Come to the museum with us on February 2 to view Sir Walter Wally's winter prediction.
Choose a year to see Sir Walter Wally's prediction:
Animal and Weather Folklore
Groundhog Day is celebrated on February 2. Whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not is said to determine the type of weather for the remaining six weeks of winter. But, groundhogs are not the only animal taking on the role of a meteorologist.
The woolly worm is claimed to forecast winter weather. These caterpillars have black and brown banding in its back. The folklore states that more black than brown indicates a harsh, cold winter while more brown than black points to a mild winter. Most meteorologists regard this prediction as untrue. The color tends to reflect the woolly worm's age and not the winter ahead.
Another meteorologist of the natural world is the goose. Folklore claims that geese fly higher in fair weather than in foul. There is some truth to this assumption. Migrating birds can fly more easily in dense, high pressure conditions. Therefore, geese may fly high when a high pressure system moves to the area. High pressure systems are associated with fair weather.
Crickets can provide a temperature estimate. The insects chirp more frequently in warm weather. The equation for calculating the temperature from a cricket involves counting the chirps for fourteen to fifteen seconds. Then, an amount is added to the count to calculate a temperature in Fahrenheit degrees.
Folklore asserts that cows can forecast bad weather. If a cow stands with its tail to the west, the weather is said to be fair. On the other hand, if a cow grazes with its tail to the east, the weather is likely to turn sour. There is some possible truth to this prediction. Animals graze with their tail toward the wind so that if a predator sneaks up behind them, the wind will help catch the scent of the predator and prevent an attack. A west wind can indicate fair weather while an east wind means rain. This is only true for the Northern Hemisphere. The cow's prediction might also be wrong during a hurricane.
Groundhogs are not the only meteorologists on four feet. What other animals that you know are trying to forecast the weather?