15 weird warning signs that winter could be a frigid hellscape, according to folklore

Check corn husks, count acorns, and observe the ants.

15 weird warning signs that winter could be a frigid hellscape, according to folklore
[Photo: Lerone Pieters/Unsplash]

Winter seems pretty far away when you’re sweltering and slapping mosquitos on a muggy August afternoon. However, the Farmers’ Almanac is looking ahead to the cold months. And its extended weather forecast predicts a “polar coaster” of frigid temperatures and “copious” amounts of snow, sleet, rain, and ice.


To arrive at this frosty foreboding conclusion, the almanac plugs in a proprietary formula that’s been around since 1818. It’s famously guarded by a prognosticator who goes by the pseudonym of Caleb Weatherbee, who considers sunspot activity, tidal action of the moon, the position of the planets, and a variety of other factors to come up with the prediction. (The validity of the almanac’s predictions have been frequently called into question.)

Other ways to guess at what the weather may have in store are steeped in folklore. Country Living pointed to several possible signs in nature. Here are some of the quirkier signs they say to look out for this fall to predict how harsh the winter will be:

  1. Thicker-than-normal corn husks
  2. Woodpeckers sharing a tree
  3. Early departure of geese and ducks
  4. Early migration of the monarch butterfly
  5. Thick hair on the nape of a cow’s neck
  6. Heavy and numerous fogs during August
  7. Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands
  8. Mice chewing furiously to get into your home
  9. Early arrival of crickets on the hearth
  10. Spiders spinning larger-than-usual webs and entering the house in great numbers
  11. Pigs gathering sticks
  12. Ants marching in a line rather than meandering
  13. Unusual abundance of acorns
  14. Squirrels gathering nuts early to fortify against a hard winter
  15. Frequent halos or rings around the sun or moon forecast numerous snowfalls

This post has been updated.


About the author

Lydia Dishman is a staff editor for Fast Company's Work Life section. She has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.