Prairie Tayles: August Fogs Predict Winter Snows!

Aug 4, 2017

Daily temperatures may still top the century mark during the next thirty days, but soon they’ll start dropping. Knowing old Man Winter has already packed his bags and bought his ticket to Kansas compels me to google long-term weather forecasts each year. The irony is that I’ve done this long enough to realize weather prognosticators have worse batting averages than losing baseball teams. To prepare better for changing seasons, I also consider what meteorological prophets who rely on folk wisdom have to say. Since August has just begun, I’ve planned a little experiment to see how accurate those old-timers were when they offered up this maxim, “Count the number of morning fogs in August to predict the number of upcoming winter snows.”

Considering the dismal success rate of professional forecasters, I figure that testing some of my ancestors’ tried and maybe not-so-true maxims can’t steer me any further off course than the Weather Channel does. After all, those generations alive before media started telling me what to think depended on their practical experience of watching nature and noting patterns to thrive and pass on their genes. These people whose survival depended heavily on their ability to anticipate storms have to have some pointers I can use.

Besides, some of those sayings like the one that states we’ll have a snow total that matches the tallest sunflowers makes sense. If we had a wet summer that made our state flower reach gigantic heights, it’s more likely a wet winter with piled up snow will follow. I’m not sure I can make such a big jump with the correlation between the number of August fogs and winter snows. So, I’m going to get scientific to test this prediction.

Every year I think I’ll remember how many mornings I awakened to find the field behind the house hidden by layers of misty, white fog. By the time I hang up January’s new calendar, I forget. So this year, I’m going to jot down those hazy mornings with big  X’s. That way I’ll have a permanent record to back up my not always correct memory. Now, I just have to remember not to toss it when I get my new one.

It wouldn’t hurt to have folks who read this column provide back up. If all of us kept track of those ground hugging clouds for the next few weeks, we could double check one another after the last snow next spring. We’d then see if our long-gone relatives were onto something or if their words are as empty as those mists that will soon hide our prairie several mornings this month.