Jim Bennett

Weather forecasting is not a perfect science. Today it’s all about complicated mathematical expressions as part of a process called numerical forecasting. Meteorologists use barometric pressure, Doppler radar that monitors the movement of fronts, instruments attached to ships, airplanes, buoys at sea, weather balloons, and satellites in space in an attempt to determine the future. Today a 7day forecast is right about 80% of the time, 10 day forecast half the time, 5 day forecasts about 90%.

Polar orbiting and NASA satellites in deep space a million miles from earth use images for long range predictions that’re right half the time. They monitor and incorporate sea surface temperatures to predict El Nino and El Nina currents patterns, a naturally occurring phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean to forecast future hazards such as rains, floods and droughts.

I love my weather app and feel I can do weather forecasts as good as the meteorologist. The best apps according to Forecast Watch in order are AccuWeather, the Weather Channel, Weather Underground, Foreca, Intelllicast and Dark Sky.

Growing up on the farm I watched my dad try to predict the weather having to know when to plant crops, cut hay so it could dry before rains came. He’d tap his barometer, watch the birds and cows. When the rooster crowed at night there would be rain in the morning. If birds fly low or if the bull leads the cow to pasture rain is coming. It’s the same forecast for sneezing cats and when there is no morning dew rain in the forecast too! If birds stop flying or seagulls fly inland means a bad storm is coming heavy dew means nice weather that day and no rain. Bats flying late and hawks flying high mean fair weather too. It’s the same forecast when birds sing in late summer and crows fly in pairs. When swallows nested high summer would be dry.

As far as long term nature forecasts go, a small black band on a wooly worm means mild winter ahead. Fat rabbits, squirrels gathering nuts constantly, pigs gathering leaves and straw, moles and gophers digging deeper holes all point to a long cold winter but grouse drumming in the fall meant mild winter ahead.  

Despite all this information I put my trust in a Weather Rock you can create at home. Simply find a substantial rock about the size of a football. Hang it from a rope off a tripod made of stout wood. Keep it close to a window so you can observe from your home. It the rock is wet tis raining. It the rock is white it’s snowing. If you can’t the see the rock it slowed a lot. If the rock is swaying slowly there is a gentle breeze blowing. It the rock is a rockin back and forth quickly there is strong wind howling. If the rock is gone get to the basement quickly. The rock is 100% accurate all the time. Place it under a light for nighttime forecasts!


Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at jamesbennett24@gmail.com

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