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Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017

Which weather forecaster to trust?

Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2012, at 3:41 PM

One of the joys -- and concerns -- of living on a farm is weather.

Often it is more concern than joy, but every once in awhile we get to enjoy weather, like a slow-soaking July rain. It doesn't seem to matter if we have crops in the ground, calves coming, or we are out of town, knowing what the weather is doing is always important.

I suppose it has always been that way on a farm, so naturally without weather forecasters, old settlers turned to the next best thing -- old wives.

Now, with instant communication, we are constantly linked to the weather. Internet, radio, television -- hubby uses them all to plan his days -- even several days in advance -- accordingly.

So imagine my surprise when a television weather forecaster, speaking during at a Santa Fe Young Farmers meeting, admitted they really can't predict the weather accurately more than a couple days ahead of time. In fact, he said, if weren't for viewers expecting a five-day forecast, he certainly wouldn't provide one.

So that brings us back to the old wives' tales to see what weather we can expect this spring.

I know we've had thunder in January and thunder in February. Depending on who you believe, either one of those months are used in the old wives' tale: Thunder in January (or February), frost in May.

So frost in May, check! Maybe even two frosts in May.

Then of course, one of the best known wives' tales involves a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil. This year, he saw his shadow, so he predicted six more weeks of winter.

Hard to believe a groundhog can' predict the weather, I know, and so far Phil has been wrong. With the exception of a few days in mid-February, winter has yet to show its' cold face in mid-Missouri and most of the country.

In fact, Kansas City is on track to have the least amount of snowfall in a season since 1922-1923 when just 4.5 inches fell.

In Marshall, we had one measurable snowfall, and a short-lived cold snap in the middle of February.

Since Phil didn't seem to be very predictable this year, I moved on to another old proverb to determine the weather: "If March comes in like a lamb, it goes out like a lion (or vice-versa.)"

But the problem is, I'm not sure if that takes into account Leap Year. On Feb. 29, we had thunderstorms and tornados in many parts of our state. That would be a lion. But on March 1, the weather was gorgeous, reaching 72 degrees in Marshall (lamb). In typical Missouri weather fashion, less than 24 hours later, it was snowing again.

Once again I'm confused.

With the official first day of spring today, and unseasonably warm weather, I want to believe winter is over. Farmers have been busy in the field and many are counting down until April hits and they can plant area corn fields.

Depending on who you believe, weather forecasters have predicted everything from a hot, dry, summer to a cold, wet one. (Why can't they ever forecast perfect weather?)

So I guess, without any thing else to hold my hat on, this old wife is going to go back to old Phil.

After all, he never said when the six weeks would be. Maybe he meant May, with its' two frosts?

Let's hope not.

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