Weather Whisperers

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About this Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to "Weather Whispers" by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these blog posts. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.

April 12, 2018

You can blame this blog on my cat sprawling on my computer when I was trying to write this weather blog. Apparently my keyboard was the only suitable place in the entire house for a catnap. After a struggle for territory, I found myself brooding about cats and weather—specifically “raining cats and dogs.” Can you imagine anything more improbable or, for that matter, more uncomfortable? Why would anyone even imagine it in the first place? Raining Cats and Dogs Some authorities tie the idea to... more

March 26, 2018

Why are baby animals associated with Easter? And where did the Easter bunny come from? Enjoy our seasonal weather post—and, of course, adorable pictures of baby animals! Of course, spring does provide the best weather conditions for the animals to give birth. However, it’s not just warm temperatures that they need. Air pressure also has an effect! University of Arkansas scientists report that spring calves tend to be born when barometric (air) pressure is high! High air pressure discourages... more

February 22, 2018

Who has been watching the Winter Olympics? Did anyone notice (from your cozy living room) that many of the days were not just cold … they were bone-chillingly frigid? What caused such extreme temperatures for a location at the same latitude as Washington, D.C.? The first few days saw temperatures dropping into the single digits F° during the day. With the windchill, temperatures dropped below zero. Consider the even more extreme sensation that an athlete gets when going 50 mph down the... more

February 8, 2018

It’s hard to believe that Mardi Gras started with long hard winters and acts of charity. However, before it was a day for parties, Mardi Gras started out as a day to help the hungry and the poor. Most people know Mardi Gras as the last extravagant day before Lent. Even the name, Mardi Gras, translates to Fat Tuesday suggesting the last feast of rich food before the self-denial some Christians observe before Easter. However, before it was a day for parties, Mardi Gras started out as hungry day... more

December 14, 2017

A new year is always ripe with possibilities. Though we have our forecasts, we also enjoy the tradition of looking to winter weather folklore. New Year’s Weather Folklore In particular, weather folklore often looks to the wind. Try this. Step outside as the sun sets on New Year’s Eve. Feel the wind and recite: If New Year’s Eve the wind blows south It betokens warmth and growth. If west, much milk and fish in the sea. If north, cold and storms there will be. If east, the trees will... more

November 30, 2017

According to early reporting, it looks like we’re in for another La Niña! What does that mean? How will La Niña affect your winter? As one of the main drivers of weather in the U.S. and around the world, La Niña affects your lives from winter snow to grocery bills. Let’s review … What is La Niña? Warmer or colder ocean temperatures in one part of the world influence weather around the globe. Boggles the mind, right? The temperatures may be only 1 degree warmer or colder than average, but... more

November 16, 2017

Have you ever wondered why we can smell the rain coming?  My grandfather could even track squirrels with his sense of smell. What he was best known for, however, was his incredible nose for weather. He could tell a storm was approaching before anyone else in the county. One of my father’s earliest memories was running to warn neighbors that bad storms were coming so that they could get things covered. Most of us have smelt approaching storms. Source: Wikipedia Most of us have probably... more

October 13, 2017

Why does Halloween fit so well with October? It’s just interesting to think about how much weather and daylight affect the whole nature of a celebration. Back on the 13th of May of 609 A.D., the Catholic feast of “All Martyrs Day” was established. It was eventually moved to November 2 (probably to blend and supplant the older Celtic festival of “Samhaim”) and later renamed “All Soul’s Day” or “All-hallows.” The night before, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be... more

October 11, 2017

We all know this hurricane season has been active, but how active? September 2017 was the strongest hurricane month ever recorded. Here’s why. First, know that September is typically the busiest month for North American Atlantic Hurricanes due to the conveyor belt of low-pressure systems moving off Africa’s west coast into the Atlantic reach its greatest strength. Additionally, the Atlantic is at its peak of heat and wind shear is normally low. However, September 2017 crushed the previous... more

October 9, 2017

I sometimes wonder why I am in the climate business. According to folklore, those leaves you have to rake up will tell you all you need to know about winter. Are your chrysanthemums really pretty? Get out the mittens. The birds and bees are not only into sex; apparently, they are weather forecasters as well. The competition for my job is horrendous. Here is a sample of rodent wisdom: Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry, Will cause snow to gather in a hurry. In addition, a tough winter... more

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