low-tide-winter

Meteorologists we most definitely aren't, so instead of swimming through oceans of facts and hopeful guesswork surrounding the supposed El Nino weather system that will 'definitely' guarantee amazing snowfall all through North America and Europe this year, we thought we'd take a good look at the homeopathic remedy of forecasting: the Farmers' Almanac.

Yup, it's the annual book from the publishers who "make no specific claims to the accuracy of forecasts" - promising longterm predictions based on a "top secret mathematical and astronomical formula, that relies on sunspot activity, tidal action, planetary position and many other factors."

OK, so far so unbelievable, but we picked out a few of our favourite wives' tales and myths that predict heavy winters. Let us know via hearsay if you come across any - then we'll know that they're definitely true!

pine-cones

Bigger and more plentiful pinecones are supposedly a sign of cold and snowy winters. Mother Nature tells pine trees that it's gonna be a cold one, and once warned they go into production overdrive to make as many seeds as possible to ensure the survival of their species. Or so they say.

gentiane

In the French Alps it's believed that bigger flowering Gentianes mean a greater chance of a blower pow season, 'cos flowers know things man.

squirrel

Fluffier tails in the autumn are a tell-tail (ha!) sign of snow to come - 'fluffiness' being an easily measurable scientific scale, obviously - whilst more frenzied squirrels hastily stashing more nuts away means much the same. It's no wonder that the Met Office employs so many of the buggers really.

acorn

When frightened oak trees hear tell of the rampaging, panic-buying squirrels ravaging the land for acorns, they naturally grow thicker shells to defend themselves. Thus, the thicker the shell, the harsher the winter - it's science.

mist

Apparently, each foggy morning in the mountains during August means of day of snowfall during the winter. It's like a DVD easter egg preview from Jesus.

onions

The French claim - with great deference to national stereotypes - that thicker onion skins in the summer mean greater snowfall and colder temperatures. Flag down your local two-wheeled cepa-salesman and ask to see his measurments.

ant-hill

Almost as meteorologically-inclined as squirrels, when told in advance of a snowy winter ants are inclined to build their nests higher, presumably to leave them sticking above the snow. We hear that they make great pillow stacks once the snow comes.

bees

In Italy, it's bee-lieved that more bees in the summer means more snow in the winter. That, or Monsanto was recently driven out of town.

wooly-worms

Wooly worms - young Tiger Moths - are meant to grow thicker coats in advance of a harsh winter, with blacker (as opposed to redder) coats believed to signify ever colder temperatures. Though that sounds like one of the wooliest wives' tales so far, it's reported to work with an 80% accuracy - though how you could calculate that is beyond us.

snow

Call us old-fashioned, but we reckon the first sign of a truly epic winter is truly epic snow! And whilst the recent snowfalls in Austria and Canada are far too early to be any help in predicting what'll happen come December, we can but hope and pray for a deep one for everyone. Enough Almanac-ing, let's all go watch movies and get stoked for three months!