6 natural signs that we could be in for a harsh winter

Larry Mowry Image
Friday, November 9, 2018
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Take a look at some non-scientific folklore to help us predict what the winter will be like.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Winter is coming! You might be wondering what this winter will be like... mild or cold? Dry or snowy?

This year's Farmers Almanac predicts plenty of cold and snow in 2018, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at some more non-scientific folklore to help us predict what the winter will be like. Maybe you've heard of some of these.

1. Woolly worms

Have you seen any woolly bear caterpillars, also known as woolly worms, this fall? Woolly worms are black and brown. If the brown segment is small, the winter will be harsh. If the brown segment takes up most of the caterpillar, the winter will be mild.

2. Squirrels

If you find them busier than usual storing lots of food, winter may be more severe. Also, if their tails are bushier and their nests are higher in the trees, a harsh winter is said to be coming.

3. Fog in August

Here's a fun one: the number of days fog was reported in August equals the number of snowfalls we will have in the winter! So how many foggy days were reported in this past August? 19! Will we get that many snows? We'll see...

4. Persimmon seeds

If you grew up in downstate or central Illinois, you probably know about the persimmon. When ripe, they taste like brown sugar. But many have been fooled by taking a bite early and tasting their bitter, vomit-inducing taste.

But if you cut open the seeds of persimmon fruit, you will find one of three things: a spoon, a knife, or a fork shape. Spoons mean you should get the shovels out. Knives means a cold, icy winter with cutting winds. Forks mean a mild winter.

5. Falling leaves

Have you raked a lot of leaves yet? There's an old saying that goes like this: when leaves fall early, fall and winter will be mild; when leaves fall late, winter will be severe.

6. Hedge apples

Got an osage orange tree in your yard? If you've got a lot of the yellow-green, grapefruit-sized fruit on the ground, winter will be harsh. The size of the hedge apple also matters. Large fruit indicates a bleak winter, while a smaller size means it will be mild.

For a scientific prediction of what we can expect this winter, check out the outlook released by NOAA last month.

WATCH: NOAA predicts milder, drier winter in 2018-2019

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