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Name: Susan C.
Status: other
Age: 50s
EMAIL        csusanna200@aol.com
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 
1/27/2004



Question:
I was looking at your sight for pine cones and weather prediction.

My mother passed away in December 2003. In September 2003 she told me we were going to have a hard winter. I asked how she knew. She said it was because of the number of pine cones she could see on the tops of pine trees. I started looking, and sure enough, every pine tree I looked at were laden with cones. And indeed she was correct! We are having a hard winter. Do you know what lots of pines cones have to do with predicting winter weather? Or where she may have gotten this folk lore from? I did not ask her at the time, and now wish I had.


Replies:
Because weather has always been very important to people lots of fascinating folklore has grown up, some of which has solid basis, and some is pure myth. It would seem logical that the production of pine cones or acorns, or the thickness of an animal's coat, or many other such ideas would predict winter weather, but the truth is those are responses to environmental conditions in the seasons before winter - plants and animals have no way of knowing what the coming season will be like. On the other hand many folk short range predictions, for the coming few hours to a day or so, are quite accurate. See a wonderful little book, Weather Wisdom, by Albert Lee, for more.

J. Elliott


Susan,

My condolences on the loss of your mother.

Your question is interesting because it allows me to address a popular misconception. "Lore" is often the result of anecdotal evidence coming true. Whenever an "old wives tale" is confirmed, it ingrains it as a "truism." Of course, the failures are never admitted as evidence counter to the legend.

I've been on the planet for about 70 years and I've spent quite a bit of time talking with old folks regarding their beliefs about nature's weather prognosticators. In my opinion (and it is just opinion) I don't believe nature's creatures are very good weatherpersons. The strike-outs pretty well balance the home-runs. Thus, I favor the side that says a proliferation of pine-cones is the result of factors other than the trees' ability to sense impending bad weather.

Out of politeness and respect, I won't criticize those who wish to cling to uninformed concepts based on anecdotal evidence. For me, at least, it would be more important that I made my mom happy than I should attempt to undermine harmless beliefs that she held dear.

Regards,
ProfHoff 790



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