Can Wooly Worms & Persimmon Seeds Help Predict the Weather?

(Springfield, MO) -- Every fall, we start to wonder if it will be a bad winter. We either rely on nature to give us a clue, or we wait for the National Weather Service's winter weather outlook.

But can wooly worms and persimmon seeds predict winter weather?

On this Winter Weather Awareness Day, KOLR/KSFX wanted to find out first-hand if people believe if there's truth behind the folklore.

You might be surprised at what we found!

"The folklore behind the persimmon seed is that when you split one open the seed, you'll find three shapes: a spoon, knife and fork," says Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

A spoon means heavy, wet snow; a knife means cold, cutting winds; and a fork means a mild and tolerable winter.

Unfortunately, there's no science to back any of this up.

"Where this breaks down, you'll find persimmon trees that have fruits with seeds of varying shapes on the same tree, the same year," adds Skalicky. "Also, the spoon in the predominant shape, most commonly found shape so those two facts kind of take away from the true accuracy of this."

KOLR/KSFX's Jill Gilardi decided to ask a few folks at Close Memorial Park about the folklore.

"Have you heard of a persimmon seed?" she asks.

"Nope, haven't heard of that either," says Stephanie MacMillan of Willard.

"I don't even know what a persimmon is," says Robert Bellis of Springfield.

At least Kellie Yockey knew a little bit about them.

"The persimmon seeds -- you open it, you have a fork, or a spoon," she says. "One of them is a hard winter or six weeks longer, we used to just do it for fun."

Wooly worms are another creature tied to winter weather forecasting folklore. The blacker the worm, the harsher the winter and the browner the worm, the milder the winter.  

"Now, where the variations to this come in, is that we'll also have some people that will tell you that the direction the wooly worm is crawling when you find it makes a difference," says Skalicky.

The direction does not indicate a warmer or colder winter; the worms are just simply crawling to leaf litter where they spend the winter.  

"Well I've heard about it a lot," says Nancy Melton of Springfield. "My mother, you know -- all the older people talk about it and I kind of believe in it."

Based on 14 wooly worm pictures Jill collected from viewers, there were more worms with brown in them then black, which would indicate a milder winter.

The folklore forecast actually matches up a bit with the National Weather Service's forecast, which indicate a 40-percent chance for a milder than normal winter and a 33-percent chance for a wetter than normal winter in the Ozarks.    

Click here for NOAA's Springfield page

Get Ready - Winter Weather Awareness Day


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