FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) - Hi everyone! Well it’s that time of year again, time for a little homespun forecasting with the help of Mother Nature and her furry creatures. Our fuzzy tailed friends, the squirrels drive this forecast. Here it is the annual, “Acorn Theory Winter Forecast,” don’t laugh!
I’ve been doing this forecast for years. When my boys were young, we used to like to collect acorns from our yard’s oak trees. We’d try to fill a sand bucket with acorns. One year the bucket overflowed and that winter we had nearly 40 inches of snow in Kansas City. The very next year, we couldn’t find an acorn and you know what, KC didn’t even have a foot of snow that winter and it never snowed in December.
You know nature takes care of its own. Think about it, reindeer have longer antlers to forage for food during snowier Winters. Otters grow thicker pelts ahead of frigid winters. You’ve seen caterpillars that are black as night ahead of snowy and cold winters and caterpillars that are mostly brown before a mild and dry winter.
Oh, not to mention the persimmon seeds. Open the persimmon seed and if you see a fork then it will be a warmer than average winter, a spoon indicates a snowy winter and a knife means the cold air will cut like a, well cut like a knife. So what about these squirrels.
I’m not a squirrel whisperer or anything but I do watch them run around my yard and dig holes. The busier they are, the more acorns they bury, the colder and snowier the Winter. Squirrels have amazing memories, recalling exactly where they buried each nut. When it snows a lot, they dig out the snow and retrieve their meal. This year there aren’t as many treats to store as last year. But some of the morsels are meatier. That’s perfect for a squirrel looking to pack on an extra pound or two to get through a cold stretch of weather. This tells me we better get ready for at least two, maybe three, very cold air outbreaks that will send temperatures well below average for a few days at a time.
I know, trees are reactive, not predictive. Meaning trees respond to the type of weather we had during Spring and Summer. But you got to think that nature knows what size and how many nuts squirrels need, right? I think so. And if there are fewer acorns that would mean our acorn accumulators won’t need as many and that would tell us not to expect a ton of snow. Maybe the average amount of snow or maybe less than average.
Before I reveal the official Acorn Theory Winter Forecast, let me tell you the squirrels might be on to something. Have you heard of La Nina? Normally trade winds blow east to west across the Pacific Ocean. That pushes warm surface water toward Australia. But this year the east to west trade winds are stronger than usual. This is causing cooler water to surface in the eastern Pacific Ocean, this creates what’s known as a La Nina Weather pattern.
La Nina weather patterns tend to produce large variability when it comes to temperatures and precipitation in the central U.S., including here in Kansas City. A wetter than average weather pattern tends to set up closer to St. Louis during La Nina years. That can mean more snow for the eastern half of Missouri. The southern plains tends to be warm and dry and the upper Missouri valley can be bitter cold. Kansas City sits right between all three of these areas. So maybe the acorns and squirrels are trying to tell us something. Maybe it’s just not a nutty forecast, maybe our treasure stashers are following biology and natural science. Maybe. Either way, factoring in the number of acorns and squirrel activity I’ve seen this Autumn, here is the 2020-2021 Acorn Theory Winter Forecast.
To sum it all up, expect some very, very cold days and nights. We might see some near record warm afternoons and a chance for a couple of stretches where we go a week or more without any rain or snow. Kansas City averages 18.8 inches of snow every Winter. This year that amount should range between 14 & 18 inches. At least that’s what our incisor teethed rodents would like us to believe, we’ll know if they’re right or wrong by the end of March.