Farm Life: Fog in August, Winter Forecast for 2019-20

August 2019 had come and gone.  Time to give your the annual Fog in August report, and correlate this with the Hagers-Town Town and Contry Almanack forecast for Winter 2019-20.

But first, let’s review how last Winter (2018-19) played out.

For those who have not read prior Fog in August reports, let me recap the general premise and how we conduct our naturalistic science experiment every year.  The old-timers around this region of the Appalachian Mountains have a variety of ways to predicting (or really chewing-on while leaning against the truck, as any 10 minute tasks requires 45 minutes of speculation and gossip about who is too lazy to prepare for winter) what the weather is going to do.  In Fall, the prognostication turns to whether we will have and how much snow.  The belief is that for every foggy day in August, we will have a snow storm.

Of course, all fogs are not the same.  Thus, we observe and categorize the fogs by density. Light Fog is that which is distinct from haze, and through which you can see the other side of the valley.  We make these observations along WV Route 259, along the Lost River Valley and headwaters of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.  This is about 45 mile stretch of road which we pass through on our way to work. Thus, there may be some variability along the way.  Moderate Fog is dense enough that you cannot see through it, but you can either see the base or tops of the mountains (about 1/2 mile across the valley). Heavy Fog obliterates your view of the valley through which you cannot see the mountains at all.

We then measure the amount of snow, correlating light snow (< 1″) to light fog, moderate snow (1″ – 4″) with moderate fog, and deep snow (<4″) with heavy fog.  This is probably less scientific that Leonardo di Vinci or Michelangelo might have been, but just as artsy.  We also correlate all of this with the local Almanack, The Hagers-town Town and Country Almanack.

Okay, that said, last year (2018), we observed 14 light fog days, the almanack predicted 6 light/lake effect* snows, and we had 8 light snows.  We observed 6 moderate fog days, the almanack predicted 12 moderate snows, and we had 4 moderate snows.  We observed 4 heavy fog days, the almanack predicted 1 heavy snow and 5 Nor’easters, and we had 5 heavy snows.

However, the confounding issue was the temperature.  Last year was the wettest on history (aka since the British arrived 400-plus years ago and started keeping obsessive records) and one of the warmest.  Thus we also had 16 days of rain, which sort of messes up the snow tally.

Thus, we observed 25 days of fog, the almanack predicted 24 days of snow (hey, pretty close numbers there), and we had 17 days of snow and 16 of rain, yikes, that make 33 wet events, which means we better add a couple of days to August to anticipate Global Warming! (Sorry, Caesar Augustus, you must have been too short to keep up on history; by the way, you want to know about dictators, come look at our Empires now!  Sorry, there is a reason for me to live in the mountains).

Enough already, time for our 2019 Fog in August observations and the almanack’s predictions:

Light Fog Days, 13; almanack calls for 12 light/lake effect* snows.  Good so far.

Moderate Fog Days, 3; almanack calls for 7 moderate snows.  Hmmm, a little off (maybe we missed a few weekend days when we did not travel)

Heavy Fog Days, 4; almanack 1 heavy snow and 3 Nor’easters.  Bingo, rolled snake-eyes on that one.

Total Observed Fog Days, 20; almanack total, 23 storms.

Well, get out your snow shovels. I am having the snow blade’s weld fixed for the tractor.  We have plenty of wood put up for the wood stove.

Now, let’s enjoy the Fall Color before the snows begin

* Lake effect snow is that which blows off the Great Lakes.  Most of it falls near the shores of the lakes and western ridges of the Appalachian Mountains.  We tend to get a dusting by the time it arrives on the eastern slopes, thus mostly light snows.

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About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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8 Responses to Farm Life: Fog in August, Winter Forecast for 2019-20

  1. cindy knoke says:

    You are lucky, my friend.

  2. KerryCan says:

    You’re the only person I ever heard correlating fog days to snow! Is this a widespread technique for forecasting weather or very local to your region, do you know?

    • hermitsdoor says:

      I had not heard of this until we moved to West Virginia (though some farmers in the Shenandoah Valley where we work endorse this). Other methods include looking at where wasps build their nests (high, low, underground), woolly-worm colors, etc. As these valleys were migrated to from Pennsylvania, following the rivers, many of the traditions here come from German regions of the mountains in Europe. I have not traced the history to see if it goes back to that heritage.

  3. I must admit that I have never heard of snow being predicted this way. The fascinating things I learn from my blogging friends!

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