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Folk Forecasts

In my quivering hands I hold the complete snow forecast for this winter—from the first flake to the final flurry.

The forecast was compiled by three of Kentucky’s pre-eminent barnyard scientists and folk-prognosticators:

• L.H. “Dick” Frymire, of Irvington in Breckinridge County, is a “treeologist.” For 46 years, he has used tree leaves and bark, reams of weather data, and a secret formula passed down from a long-departed friend to predict the date and depth of each snow for the entire winter (give or take a day or two depending on where you are in Kentucky). His son, J.L., of Hardin County, assisted the 85-year-old Frymire with research for this forecast.

• Ike Adams, of Paint Lick in Garrard County, is president of the National Association of Woolly Worm Winter Weather Watchers, better known as N.A.W.W.W.W.W. Adams, who moonlights as a popular syndicated columnist, studies the color of woolly worms to determine winter events.

• Bill Mardis, of Somerset in Pulaski County, beloved editor emeritus of the Commonwealth Journal newspaper—known to many as “humble reporter”—counts the fogs in August to predict the number of “rabbit tracking snows.”

Here are the predictions, beginning with Frymire’s:
November 18 killing frost
November 21 flurries
November 24 first tracking snow
November 27 1-inch snow
December 23 3-inch snow
January 4 coldest day of year, 12 degrees
January 12 sleet and hazardous driving
January 16 7-inch snow
January 21 5-inch snow
January 25 3-inch snow
February 22 first robin
March 26 1-inch snow
March 27 will be 68 degrees
April 4 last snow (flurries)

Adams’ N.A.W.W.W.W.W. forecast calls for snows to begin in late November, with a pleasant break in mid-December, then lots of snow and rain from late December through January.

Many of the woolly worms in Adams’ surveys were “jet black on the head end, then a brown ring, then black again, then a darker brown ring, and then they stay black all the way through the end of February.”

He says that means the coldest weather and heaviest snows will be in February and early March, with another big snow possible in late March or early April.

Mardis reports that his “fog counting committee” recorded 11 fogs in August, which signifies 11 rabbit tracking snows.

On top of that, Mardis has a photo of a hornets’ nest built next to a security light on a telephone pole, another harbinger of heavy snows.

The woolly worms in his neck of the woods are black as coal and all heading south, Mardis says. He is advising his readers to “order long johns” as quickly as possible.

He says he now relies solely on the word of his fog-counting committee in compiling his forecast “because at my age everything is starting to look foggy.” He adds: “Of course, I’m just like the professional people. When I miss it, I just look the other way and act like I didn’t do it.”

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