Weather Whys: Can animals predict the winter

Posted at 1:51 PM, Oct 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-02 14:51:05-04


It's October 1st and that means it's pumpkin spiced everything season!


No, It's time for the 2015-2016 Acorn Theory Winter Forecast!  

The what? The Acorn Theory!

How cold and and snowy it will be based on acorn numbers and whether squirrels are burying them. Oh, I heard you, you just said that theory is nuts!  

Maybe but it's not ridiculous. Why does your dog always come inside right before it rains? Why are reindeer antlers longer right before a snowy winter? How about seals? Why do they pack on a little extra blubber before a brutally cold winter?

Some of us subscribe to the Persimmon Seed theory.


Spoon shaped seeds mean a cold and snowy winter while fork shaped seeds portend a mild and less snowy winter. Or how about wooly worms? All black and the winter will be harsh and snowy.  



For about a decade I've been watching squirrels and counting acorns that fall from Oak trees. 

Some years I have noticed an abundance of nuts and on rare occasions, years with no acorns at all.  The years with no acorns coincided with near record, low snow amounts for the entire winter. 

Other years, I watched squirrels tear up my over-seeded, newly green lawn in preparation of a winter that would dump more than 40 inches of snow on Kansas City. So, in my mind, the furry rodents aren't nuts, they are on to something.

So what about this year?  It's an El Nino year, right?  What signals are the squirrels getting?  Here are the signals I'm seeing.  A lot of acorns on Oak trees during the late summer and early fall.

What sticks out here is the plumpness of the acorns. These babies are beefy!  Lots of meat on these for squirrels to feast and stay full for several days.

Exhibit B)

The abundance of acorns. There are a lot of acorns scattered all over the ground.  That also means the squirrels are not burying them. 

But the squirrels have been very active of late. Perhaps, laying the groundwork for where they will bury additional nuts later this autumn.


Plenty of plump acorns presents itself as a precursor to a cold winter but what's this?  A white wooly worm?  Wouldn't white mean a warm winter?  

So what gives?  I don't know, I've never seen this before.

Maybe it means winter will get a late start, maybe it will be warm up until January. At any rate it is time for the 2015-2016 Scorn Theory Forecast.  Remember, this is all for fun, unless its right!  But my real winter forecast will come out in November.


I will break this forecast up into two regions.  Region 1) Oklahoma, NW Arkansas, SW Missouri and SE Kansas. Region 2) Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri, including the Kansas City Metro area.

Region 1) The acorns are plentiful, the squirrels are active but not burying lots of nuts. This would indicate below average snowfall. (Tulsa averages 9.6 inches a winter) However, there should be at least one 4 inch snowstorm this winter.  Also, there may be an ice storm!  That white worm may hold the clue.  Temperatures will near average but watch out for really cold days!  I think that is what the beefy acorns indicate.

Region 2) Roughly the same amount of acorns as last year. The winter of 2014-2015 in Kansas City saw only about 14 inches of snow fall. The KC Metro averages 18.8. The squirrels are active, so perhaps an early season snowstorm but overall the snowfall total will ne near average. Temperatures?  Some very sharp cold air masses. that may be why the squirrels look plump this autumn and why they've been eating more than they have been storing.


This is not my official Winter Forecast! Again, I've been doing this fun forecast for about eight years now.  I will issue the official winter outlook in November, once this year's El Nino is better understand and the LRC has time to set up.  This year's Lezak Recurring Cycle is in its infancy will be developing over the next month and a half.


Do you have a favorite weather "indicator" for the winter?  Have any pictures of wooly worms or persimmon seeds you would like to share?  Just email me the pics or comments to

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Have a great day!