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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Animals can signal change in weather

Randy Mann

Fall officially begins on Tuesday and I’m already receiving questions of when snow will start flying. I’ll answer this question in more detail in the coming weeks, but at this point, it looks like we’ll see far less snow this season compared to the record-breaking winter of 2008-09.

Prior to the past two winters, local readers mentioned that the squirrels were gathering food much earlier than usual. No one has noticed this behavior from squirrels this time around.

According to folklore, when these furry little critters tuck away their winter food supplies by early October high in the trees, it’s supposed to mean that a long, cold winter is ahead. However, when squirrels eat nuts on the trees rather than storing them up for winter, the weather should be unusually mild from November through March.

In my many years of weather forecasting, it seems to me that animals, and humans, are sensitive to upcoming changes to overall weather patterns.

For example, when I resided in California, my mother would complain of aching hands before a major cool-down or a large rainstorm. She could detect these changes about two to three days in advance and her accuracy was uncanny. She still lives in the Sacramento area, so I’m on my own up here.

I would also notice that my pets would become unusually hyper in advance of a major weather change. Other dog and cat owners would point out the same tendencies, especially just ahead of a thunderstorm’s arrival. On the other hand, when cats are friendly and purr and cuddle, it’s usually a sign of high pressure and fair weather.

Birds have been related to weather changes for thousands of years. According to weather folklore, when birds stop singing, rain and thunder are on the way. The same conditions will occur if birds huddle on the wires, or together in the trees.

By contrast, however, when birds flock together on the ground, it supposedly means that fair weather is in store. The rains are ending and they are going after the worms brought toward the surface.

When it comes to livestock, sheep are the best weather forecasters. If they scatter about and climb the hills, fair weather will persist. But, if they huddle together like flocks of birds, bad weather is usually on the way.

It now appears we’re not going to see numerous showers until around early to mid-October. More summer heat is expected through the end of the month. Fall, however, is still expected to be wetter and cooler than normal.

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather .com
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