96 for a high on Saturday, and then without a lot of warning our high temperature on Tuesday was in the 70’s. Coffee shops were a buzzin’ today with predictions of lower temps, driving all of us old traditionalists to scope out the non-metrological prediction for fall 2023.
September? Looks about average, with a chance of warmer weather toward the end of the month. Of more importance for next spring rather than this fall, is the prediction of above average rainfall.
October? Sorry to bring the bad news, but there is snow in the forecast on the 16th of October. Snow? What! That’s what the almanac says, and who is going to argue with a prediction system that has been a part of kitchen table coffee talk for decades, well actually since 1792.
And finally, the view way beyond the horizon for the winter of 2023-2024? It takes just three words to sum up the first couple of months. Drum roll, please; cold and snowy. Can you believe that. Winter in North Dakota that may be cold and snowy? That’s what the Old Farmer’s Almanac says, and I am sticking with them folks. Much easier to hear “I knew it was going to be a warmer than average winter” verses “you said warmer, and it’s been below zero for a solid week!”
There are other ways of predicting the long term weather folks. Growing up in a small town in North Dakota I would hear about the severity of winter based on the date the last robin was seen in Maddock, North Dakota. It’s kind of like the sparrows returning to Capistrano, only in reverse. If the robins started to abandon their northern habitat before September 1st, it would be a long winter. Well folks, I can only speak for my small back yard, but the robins are gone. Then there’s those pesky little varmints, the tree squirrels. I was told that the sooner that squirrels start storing their nuts, the closer those cold winter temperatures are.
My question to those using squirrels to predict the weather is: “How are you able to monitor a squirrel’s activity?” However, I promise that I will make it a point to watch and see. I don’t want winter temps to come unexpectedly, right? There was a scientist that put radio transmitters in peanuts to monitor when squirrels started to store nuts. He maintained that a squirrel’s brain gets much larger as it starts to catalogue where it stored nuts for winter consumption. Again, how is it that you can stop down a squirrel and measure the size of said squirrel’s brain.
More to Come
Many of you arrived in Minot over the summer and are now seeing your first hint of fall. It’s not your imagination. As you approach the Souris River valley and Minot from either north or south hill you notice that the some, not all, of the trees are starting to change color. If nothing else, turning the calendar page from August to September and noticing the shorter days should be a hint that those beautiful fall days have begun. Sure, Mother Nature will mix in a few hot summer-like days, but it’s time to start hanging those lightweight coats in the out-the-door closet.
And as for the Old Farmer’s Almanac? Who is going to challenge the wisdom of a book that has been published since 1792? One only needs to scan through the myriad of weather apps available on your mobile phone to surmise that predicting weather, even a few days in advance, is certainly not an exact science. What we do know is that summer 2023 is largely behind us. Fall of 2023 is mostly ahead of us, and well winter 2023 “will arrive whether (or is that weather) we want it to or not.
Best Kept Secrets
If you are ever touring Garrison Dam there is a drive that goes south along the river along the tailrace, or the flow out of the turbines in the Garrison Dam powerhouse. It’s a popular fishing spot, for both humans and this time of year, the American Bald Eagle. Take your binoculars and pick up one of the majestic birds high above the river watching keenly for fish in the Missouri River. The eagles are normally around this area year round. It’s quite a scene to watch them locate their prey, dive from the sky and fly off with a fish balanced in their claws. Worth the trip, folks. Make sure to bring your camera.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to teach high school history to unwilling teenagers.