By Marlana Ward
Preparing for winter is a tradition with deep roots in the Appalachian Mountains. From the first settlers drying meats and burying vegetables to todays family stocking up on shelf staple foods at the local grocer, when the first tinges of color highlight the leaves, minds turn to winter preparations.
The first winter weather predictions have begun to be published and it looks as though most sources agree that a wet and cold winter are on tap for the Southeastern United States. According to The Farmers Almanac (http://farmersalmanac.com), precipitation totals will be higher than normal this upcoming winter. As the almanac was compiling its forecast, the National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration presented their findings that state conditions are favorable for an El Niño event to affect worldwide weather patterns.
Online weather blog, theweathercentre.blogspot.com, is exploring the effect our suns current lull in sunspot activity will have on winter temperatures. Historically, when the sun enters a season of decreased sunspot activity, temperatures decrease. However, these changes would not be extreme. No, it will take a number of years before we see a string of potentially noticeably-cold winters due to this new hibernation of the sun, The Weather Centre explains.
Perhaps one prefers to cling to the tradition of old wives tales to predict our winter weather. It is said that the number of foggy mornings in August will be the number of snows we will have during the winter. If this is true, we have a large number of snows on the way. A local favorite telltale sign of the winter to come is the color of woolly worms. There are many variations of the woolly worm tale but the most popular one seems to be that the more black on a wooly worm, the worse winter will be. Keeping an eye on local wildlife is also a way we of the mountains have been trying to predict weather for generations. Judging winter by the fluffiness of squirrels or the food gathering habits of many different woodland creatures can be a fun, though not entirely scientific way to judge the harshness of the coming season.
Here is a basic checklist to help you make sure your family is ready for the cold, wet weather predicted:
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By Marlana Ward