Do Lots of Acorns Mean a Long Winter? Here Are 12 Myths About Winter

There's some strange folklore out there about winter weather predictors.

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Do a lot of acorns mean a long winter?

Is there any truth to the old saying, “Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry will cause snow to gather in a hurry?” Well, it’s bunk—it’s only ever been a coincidence if a bad winter follows a large dropping of acorns. The same goes if there is a mild winter! It’s fun to look at weather folklore, however, so here are other myths about winter you might not know about.

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Wako Megumi/Shutterstock

Thick onion skins

Folklore claims that thicker onion skins can signal a cold and snowy winter. The old saying goes, “Onion skins very thin, mild winter coming in; onion skins thick and tough, coming winter cold and rough.” People have tried to tie what crops look like to predict the weather but what crops look like typically reflect the growing season.

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Woodpeckers sharing a tree

Woodpeckers typically create their own roost so if two were to share a tree it would signal something. In weather lore, two woodpeckers is supposed to mean a rough winter.

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Crickets house bugs

Crickets arriving early on the hearth

An early arrival of crickets to the hearth means an early winter and crickets are widely considered to be good luck. The cricket has also been used in the past to tell the temperature because the number of chirps in 14 seconds plus 40 is supposed to equal the temperature.

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Spiders spinning large webs

“Spiders spinning larger than usual webs and entering the house in great numbers” has meant a hard winter coming in weather lore. It’s tough to say if there’s a correlation between spiders spinning large webs and a harsh winter but pests typically seek shelter in homes as the temperature drops.

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Nancy Bauer/Shutterstock

Small orange band on woolly caterpillars

The width of a woolly caterpillar’s orange band is rumoured to be a signal of the type of winter coming. If it’s a narrow band, there will be a cold and long winter, if it’s wide, it will be a short and mild winter. Also, the thickness of the woolly caterpillar’s hair is another folklore weather indicator. If the hair is thick, it could be a harsher winter. If the hair is thin, it could be a cooler winter. The use of the woolly caterpillar to indicate weather seems to come from a study from Dr. Charles Curran back in the late 1940s when he said that the width of the orange hair predicted the type of winter with 80 percent accuracy. But his research hasn’t been duplicated in the years following.

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Street of residential houses
Konstantin L/Shutterstock

Green leaves on trees late into fall

Trees that continue to have green leaves late into the fall has meant a long, hard winter in weather lore but it is more likely a result of a cold spell that has interrupted the process of trees shedding leaves.

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Jiang Zhongyan/Shutterstock

Heavy shelled hickory nuts

Like an onion, a thick hickory shell is believed to mean a cold winter and a thin hickory shell means a mild winter.

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large tree in open yard
Steven H Gordon/Shutterstock

Tree bark heavier on the north side of trees

If tree bark is thicker on the north part of a tree, it’s supposed to mean a cold winter though it’s hard to say where this weather lore came from and how someone could tell if the bark is thicker on one side.

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Crickets in the chimney

The chimney is one area where pests like to climb in to get out of the winter cold. According to weather lore, if there are many crickets appearing in the chimney it means that it will be a cold winter.

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Puffin's Pictures/Shutterstock

Thick tails and bright bands on raccoons

Kind of like with the woolly caterpillar, a sign of a long, cold winter is supposed to be thick tails and bright bands on raccoons. It’s as if animals can sense a harsh winter coming in weather lore but it’s hard to find a correlation. Animals typically have a winter coat each year anyway.

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pig with a raised snout outside
Julia Lototskaya/Shutterstock

Pigs picking up sticks

Pigs have been said to predict weather through their behaviour. In weather lore they’ll gather straw or sticks in their mouth to make a nest, which is a sign cold is coming.

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The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman