Can animals predict weather changes or pending catastrophic events? Research has been done over the years and the actual answer is as elusive today as in the past when that was the common way of predicting weather. Today there are satellites that read temperatures, cloud formations, wind patterns and a host of other information then beam the results back to computers that calculate all factors and give us pretty accurate forecasts. A few weeks ago we had a helicopter fly over our area with a large upside cone hanging below it by a cable. I found out they were checking the depths of the subterranean fault lines that are in our area to help accurately predict earthquakes. About a week later we had a 4.2 quake which we did not feel, but our dogs did as they were pacing around nervously looking for a corner to get into. Or the recent Indian Ocean tsunami that killed over 230,000 people but almost no animals perished except those caged. But the question still goes mostly unanswered whether animals, birds, insects and types of flora can predict weather.
Animal vs Scientific methods:
Where we live we are surrounded by various animals, different species of birds, bats, insects and mammals. I have made it a habit to observe them in my day to day activity including our four dogs which are also good predictors. I believe they can tell what the weather may hold or that is in store for us. For example our deer and elk have been feeding more heavily than normal and are all fat and sleek with their new coats. Much more than what we have observed in past years. I consider this an indicator that this could indicate a hard winter could be in store for us. The weather forecasters have been saying essentially the same thing only they relate it to an El Nino somewhere in the Pacific ocean. I know these folks spend years in college and have all types of sophisticated equipment to help in making their calculations and predictions but I tend to give equal credibility to the deer and elk.
We provide a bat house in the peak of our roof for bats to roost in. The same bat family has migrated each year for many years. This small family of bats is devastating on our mosquito population. We have two springs that run all year long on our property and they facilitate mosquito breeding where the water pools up. I do not believe I have ever had more than two mosquito bites a year since the bats came to live with us. This year we noted that both the bats and hummingbirds have migrated far earlier than in past years.
Bees, Squirrels, and Geese:
I have also noted that the bees have been working from the first light of dawn to almost full dark and it appears to me that they are collecting pollen with more of an urgency this year. Squirrels and our little fur bearing critters have also demonstrated an urgency to gather their pine cones and seed pods this year. These could be indicators of an early winter or a hard winter. I have heard geese flying overhead much earlier this year than past years. So I tend to believe the people who dedicate their lives to predicting future weather but also the natural signs that I carefully observe each year. Both seem to agree with each other this year and both are worthy of serious consideration.
If the predictions and indications are correct it is an early warning that for our area this may be in for a more severe winter than usual. To ignore those predictions and signs would be foolish in my opinion. They may not occur but I’m not willing to risk the indicators or predictions. We usually average 264 inches of snow a winter but have had over 300 inches on a several occasions. We need to be prepared and not caught off guard. There is much to do before the snow flies and little time to do it in. I would rather be prepared for an epic winter and have it turn out to be normal or mild than the reverse. When there are several feet of snow on the ground that is hardly the time to attempt to catch up and get things done.
Which to believe?
When the two different aspects differ in predictions I tend to put my trust in the natural indicators. That is not intended to demean the scientific community but I have relied on natural predictors for so long that it is hard not to continue to trust them. While there may not be any scientific basis for natural indicators I tend to put my trust those natural predictors especially when they all tend to agree. Animals have better utilization of their senses than we humans and they use those senses to help them determine what the weather may do. They seem to use those senses and ability to react in certain ways which if closely observed reveal certain potential coming events to us humans. When the animals and other critters get it wrong they most likely die. If forecasters using scientific methods make a mistake they just move on and still have their job. There is no demonstrable scientific evidence to conclude natural predictors can tell us what the weather will be, either short term or long term. However to me common sense tells me to pay close attention to those natural predictors and to closely observe the subtle changes. I just read recently that scientists have now determined achy joints are not weather related. Sorry guys but you have that one wrong based on my personal experience. I don’t know about other States or parts of the world but for our area I plan to be prepared.
For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their lifestyle go to McElmurray's Mountain Retreat.
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