Weather Prediction update


As many of you have already heard, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow, so according to Groundhog Day folklore we are in for another 6 weeks of winter. Let's take a look at how that compares to the Ember Days forecast previously written about by Sudenga President, Larry Kruse.


Ember Days weather prediction update:

Will February be snowy, wet, windy and cold?



There was a lot of interest in my notes on Ember Days, so I decided to pay some close attention to the Ember Days that occurred after the Feast of Lucia. 

Wednesday, Dec. 14 was the prediction for January; Friday, Dec. 16 should predict the weather for February; and Saturday, Dec. 17 should predict the weather for March.


Using those days I came up with the following weather predictions for northwest Iowa:

  • January: Cold, dry, and windy
  • February: Snow, wet, windy, and cold
  • March: Some snow early then cold


We had some pretty heavy snow on Friday afternoon, and it was supposed to last into the early morning hours of Saturday. I didn’t stay up to watch if it continued snowing into Saturday so I decided I’d just ask one of the “old-timers” I knew. This was an old farmer that often quoted the Ember Days forecast to me. He’s planted potatoes on Good Friday for as long as I can remember. Sometimes he planted in some horrible conditions that, this not-quite-as-old-“old timer”, thought wasn’t ever going to work. 

Anyway, the conversation went something like this: Me, “So you follow the Ember Days, how do you take the forecast for March? Will we have a rainy beginning, and then get dry?” Him, “Well, this is a year I think we better go by the days of the change of seasons. Wednesday was awful cold and Friday was wet and cold. It’ll be better to just follow the change of season days. They were a lot better.” Not a word about how to interpret Saturday for the March forecast! 

It reminded me of Lyle Hollander a few years back. He liked to buy the Farmer’s Almanac in January to try to get a handle on what the weather conditions for the Corn Belt would be for the coming year. We always felt that in the grain handling business, the size of the crop was the biggest predictor of our sales. It seemed like it was important for us to have a good handle on the season’s forecast, so a Farmer’s Almanac was always a good first indicator. In that particular year the Farmer’s Almanac forecast was pretty bleak, with a huge drought affecting most of the Corn Belt. It was depressing to read it.  The next day Lyle came in with another Farmer’s Almanac (different publisher) that had a much friendlier forecast so he threw the first one away and we just used the new one.

Maybe Ember Days are like that. If you don’t like them, throw them out, and use something else. Who remembers Ember Days anyway? I think I’ll still track it, just for fun, but I have officially taken a very political position on this weather forecast. I think it will be average temps, average moisture, and average wind. Of course if it’s a cold January and wet February I’m taking credit for the Ember Days forecast.  March is obviously anybody’s guess!


Read the original Ember Days story here.




Now that January is officially over, let’s take a look at how the actual weather in northwest Iowa compared to the Ember Day forecast.






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