Brett Anthony makes his Kansas City winter forecast based on the actions of the acorns and squirrels

Back in August 2008, I was pruning my Pin Oak trees and I noticed there were no acorns, not one on any of the branches.. I thought it a weird sight since I had never seen the trees not produce acorns. But then someone told me Pin Oaks only produce acorns every other year. So I thought that might be why I didn't have any acorns.

But I could never remember an August with no acorns on any of the trees and my neighbors and friends had also noticed. Anyway, that winter we had only 12.4 inches of snow with the greatest snow depth of three inches.


Then I thought about another observation that fall. There was an over abundance of walnuts and large hedge apples. The hedge apples were greater than 3 inches in diameter, big enough for a squirrel to find them in light snow cover. Anyway, that winter we had only 12.4 inches of snow with the greatest snow depth of three inches.

Then August 2009 came and the tree produced more acorns then I had even seen. I also noticed the squirrels were burying acorns at an astonishing rate. Well, that winter, we had 34.5 inches of snow with the greatest snow depth of 9 inches for several days in January. That happened again in 2010. A lot of acorns meant a lot of snow -- 36.4 inches of snow, during the winter of 2010-2011. The greatest snow depth that winter was 9 inches of snow following the February 2011 blizzard.

So last year, in 2011, I decided to make a winter forecast based on the actions of the acorns and squirrels.

Here is that forecast:

Well, based on my past observations, I would go out on a limb and forecast a below average snowfall season, maybe 18 inches of snow. At no time would the snow depth be greater than 4 inches and on top that below average precipitation between December 1st and February 29th. There may also be several stretches of mild, above average temperatures right through the winter.

I forecasted too much total snowfall but otherwise, wow that was remarkably close. We never had more than two inches of snow on the ground. It was a very warm winter. Precipitation was above average for the winter but most of it fell as rain and not snow. It could have very well have been a coincidence so let's test nature again see what happens for the winter of 2012-2013.

Here is this year's forecast:

It's going to snow more this year than last year. That won't be hard; last year we netted just above 4 inches of snow for the entire season. Despite the appearance of more acorns, I am still going to go with a below average snowfall total of 16 inches of snow. While there are more acorns this year, there are not as many acorns when compared to years that have produced average or above average snowfalls. An average snowfall year would yield 21.3 inches of snow. So, below average snowfall again.

I do think however, we could have 5 or more inches of snow on ground for at least a couple of days sometime this winter. And based on the squirrels early activity I'll go out on a limb and predict our first one inch of snow will fall around December 1st. But overall, the winter of 2012 to 2013 will have below average precipitation with the drought persisting through February 2013. As for temperatures, they are going to be above average again this year but colder than last winter. In fact, we should see 4 or 5 very cold stretches that last 2 to 3 days at a time. I think we will have at least one day below zero. Any ice storms? The squirrels say, NO!

I think there is a lot of merit to natural indicators. We all have heard about wooly worms and how if they are more black than brown then we are in for a cold, snowy winter. Or persimmon seeds; if they are spoon shaped then get ready to shovel snow but if they are fork shaped then a mild winter can be expected. And of course there is the ground hog. So why not squirrels and acorns? Right? Or maybe you think this story is just plain nuts.

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