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Autumn arrives

The mellow moon, the changing leaves,

The earlier setting sun,

Proclaim at last, my merry boys,



The harvest-time begun. – Charles G. Eastman

When it comes to weather predictions, there are always the radio, television, the Internet, and of course, the trusty Tahoe Daily Tribune weather page.




But for the dreamers among us, and the less technologically inclined, there are less conventional methods. Perhaps the greatest secrets of unconventional weather prediction are captured in the wealth of legends, myths and proverbs that have developed over time.

Don Lane, a self-described “old-time Tahoe forester” who narrates the morning show Tales of Tahoe on KOWL AM 1490, has devoted long hours to researching some of these tales.

“Despite our high-tech satellites and high-powered computers, predicting the weather is not, and may never be, an exact science,” Lane said. “Even competent meteorologists have been known to consult the Farmer’s Almanac from time to time.”

On closer inspection, the truth is the Old Farmer’s Almanac and the National Weather Service predict largely the same weather this fall and winter.

The 2000 Almanac calls for a colder and drier winter than normal, with above average snowfall. After a mild November which will end by turning cold, with heavy snow and rainfall, the Almanac predicts temperatures from December through March will average about four degrees colder than normal.

Rudy Cruz, a weather service specialist at the Reno office of the National Weather Service, gave a milder, but nevertheless similar prediction.

“It seems there will be above normal precipitation from October through December, with slightly above normal temperatures,” Cruz said. “It could be a wet late fall and early winter, with probably about average temperatures.”

But in case these traditional means of predicting the weather leave some readers unsatisfied, Lane has gleaned a few handy suggestions from his research.

–A thick corn husk is a clear indication of a cold winter.

–The wily worm, a caterpillar with a brown band around its middle, predicts a mild fall when the band becomes visibly wider.

–Onion skins very thin, mean mild winter comin’ in. Onion skins thick and tough mean comin’ winter’s cold and rough.

–When dogs eat grass and cats sneeze, prepare for rain.

–If a fish jumps out of the lake after a fly, grab a raincoat – it’s going to rain.

–When sheep gather together in a huddle, prepare for a puddle.

–When ants travel in a straight line, rain is coming. If they scatter, clear weather is on its way.

Lane suggests the most trustworthy method, according to myths and legends, is just to watch the behavior of animals. If the geese leave early, the squirrels forage like mad and the bears are fat, prepare for a long, cold winter.


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