I have a deep love of Southern Appalachian folk traditions. I grew up with many of these as a regular part of life.

One of those is the many ways southern Appalachian people predict how harsh the winter is going to be. Are these methods accurate? I'd guess they're about as accurate as chance. But as silly as they sound, I still enjoy paying attention to them. It gives me hope for a good winter (I love cold weather adventuring!) and it makes me feel connected to my heritage in a fun way. 

Here are some of my favorites:

  • At the beginning of August each year, I start to pay attention to how foggy it is on my morning drive to work. The number of foggy mornings in August is said to indicate how many days of snow we'll have that winter. From my observations, it looks like we'll have 12-15 days of snow this year.
  • Cut open the seeds of a ripe persimmon. If the seed is spoon-shaped, expect a lot of snow. If the seed is knife-shaped, expect cold, cutting weather. And if the seed is fork-shaped, a mild winter is predicted. We're seeing a lot of spoons this year (one friend's persimmons had 12 spoons out of 12 seeds!).
  • Woolly Worms are caterpillars with bands of black and brown fur along their bodies. These bands predict winter - black bands are snow and brown bands are mild weather. There's even a Woolly Worm Festival in October in Banner Elk, NC where contestants race woolly worms, then the winning one is used to give a prediction.
  • If oak leaves turn in September, a cold winter is predicted. If they're green throughout September, expect a mild winter. If leaves fall from the trees before the end of September, the first snowfall could come before Halloween.
  • If monarch butterflies and/or birds migrate early, winter will be harsh.
  • If local onions have a thick skin or corn has a thick husk, you'll need to layer up for a cold winter ahead.


For what it's worth, the Farmers Almanac and local meteorologists are predicting a strong El Nino year, with cold temperatures and higher than average snowfall for the Asheville area.  So maybe there's something to these predictions after all?!