News On 6 WARN Team: What 'Godzilla El Nino' Means For Oklahoma
TULSA, Oklahoma - Before long, temperatures will plummet and our weather experts could be talking about snow and ice.
Chief Meteorologist Travis Meyer and the News On 6 WARN Team wanted to compare folklore and Mother Nature to see if it gave a consistent preview of Green Country winter.
In Oklahoma, winter can mean wind-driven snow, paralyzing ice storms, brutal cold spells, or mild and dry conditions. Often, it's all of the above.
This year, there is a big added weather factor, El Niño. But this year's version is shaping up to be a Godzilla El Nino.
But before we get to that, we wanted to take a look at some weather-predicting folklore. One of those ways, believe it or not, is by looking at cows and seeing the thickness of the hair on the back of their necks. The ones we saw didn’t look all that thick, which could mean a mild winter.
There’s a similar theory for corn husks - a thicker husk means a tougher winter. The corn I grew doesn't seem to have thick husks, which bodes well for a milder season ahead.
Some say that ducks and geese leave their breeding grounds in the North Country early, which could be a sign of a bad winter. Well, local expert Reginald Murray said, this year, those birds have done just that, meaning we could be in for a hard winter.
Squirrels gathering nuts early and storing them in greater numbers could be prepping for a particularly cold season.
Another mammal said to signal a hard winter is the raccoon. If they are denning up and foraging earlier, have more fat or longer guard hairs than usual, then a hard winter may be upon us, and that’s what Murray is seeing this year.
"The last time we saw the characteristics that the wildlife are displaying right now was the winter prior to the blizzard. The time we saw that characteristic displayed prior to that was the winter prior to the ice storm," he said.
Hornets are also supposed predictors of snow amounts. The saying is, "See how high the hornet's nest, it will tell you how high the snow will rest."
And, of course, we can't leave out the woolly worm. This year we’ve seen some with bright brown bands, indicating a mild winter, however, there have been some black ones meaning there could be a hard winter.
But animals are the only believed predictors, heavy and numerous fogs in August indicate a hard winter, some believe.
We did end up with a little fog late in the summer, but not more than usual. Lately, we have seen frequent halos around the sun, and that angelic weather phenomenon is considered a sign of lots of wintry weather.
Many persimmon seeds this year are showing the shape of spoons, and folklore says that means lots of snow can be expected.
And, depending on your choice of Farmer's Almanac, you may see one predicting a mild, dry winter while another is showing a wet and chilly one.
So, the folklore seems to be contradictory for this winter, but Mother Nature and the El Nino pattern seem to give a clearer idea:
It's where the Pacific Ocean near the equator is warmer than usual, impacting weather patterns globally. NOAA scientists say it may be one of the top three strongest El Niños since 1950.
The other two strong El Niño winters of 1982-83 and 1997-1998 were both warmer than normal, with less than half a foot of snow each of those seasons in Tulsa.
Typically, a strong El Niño sends a strong sub-tropical jet stream over the Southern U.S., which drives Pacific moisture into our region with each storm system.
So, we should see a wetter than normal winter. The official outlook from the Climate Prediction Center calls for much-above-normal precipitation and slightly below-normal temperatures.