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Columns | "In The Pines With Dana Goolsby"

Thunder In January Pineywoods Weatherlore

By Dana Goolsby
Dana Goolsby
Thunder in January means more than rumbling in the sky to many East Texans. For many, many years East Texans have been predicting the weather by trying to make heads or tails of signs from Mother Nature. The state of the weather is often the first subject people discuss when they meet. If you are living in East Texas it is highly likely you have been hearing thunder that began yesterday evening on January 8. What does thunder in January mean?
Lightning in East Texas Pineywoods
Lightning in the Pineywoods
Photo by Dana Goolsby, 2012

Thunder in January means different things to different people. Out of everyone we spoke to, not one person gave the same answer.

“Thunder in Texas means your fixing to get wet…any month of the year,” according to one East Texan who doesn’t put much stock in weather-lore.

Other East Texans still hold closely to the old wives’ tales that have been passed down from generation to generation.

“My grand-daddy used to say, thunder in January or February means frost in May,” Jana Pace of Cushing told MYETX.

One old wives’ tale suggests that thunder in the winter means there will be snow within a week to 10 days. Another says thunder in January means there will be a crop-killing frost early in the fall. Another January thunder tale predicts great floods for the month of June.

Others say it’s thunder in February that is significant. One Houston County resident told MYETX they have always heard, “If it thunders in February it will frost on that same day in April.”

Several East Texans recall hearing thunder in January of 2011. Last year, 2011 proved to be one of the driest years on record in Texas and broke drought records across the state. However, it did snow on a few occasions throughout the Pineywoods last year.

MYETX split a persimmon seed again this year and found a spoon. Finding a spoon in a persimmon seed foretells a wet winter with possible snow. East Texas persimmons have portrayed spoons for the last several years and for the last several years, it has snowed in East Texas. In 2007, it snowed on Easter.

Psychic Persimmon
Photo courtesy Dana Goolsby, November 2010
Weather Folklore - Psychic Persimmons
Still, others in East Texas predict the weather based on a “feeling.” Weather is known to effect the way people feel and when the weather is damp and cold, some folks experience aches and pains. A change in the weather has been to blame for many achy knees and backs.

Weather-lore is one of the most popular topics among readers, especially in the weeks and months leading up to winter each year and in the event of strange weather. If you look up the word “lore” in the dictionary the official definition is “the body of knowledge, especially of a traditional, anecdotal, or popular nature, on a particular subject.” While meteorologists use sophisticated equipment to forecast the weather, old timers have been making their own predictions for centuries by looking to the skies, their surroundings, animal behavior and other factors they believe help determine future weather conditions.

MYETX has compiled a list of popular weather-lore sayings that East Texans have lived by for nearly two centuries.

  • If a dog lies on his back, it is going to rain.
  • When the cows lie down in the field, it is going to rain.
  • If the cows are lying down in the field, the fishing is not good.
  • When the maple leaves turn inside out, it is going to rain.
  • If you see a ring around the moon, it will rain within 24 hours.
  • If you see the quarter moon tipped down, it will rain.
  • It will rain if you kill a spider in the house.
  • Rain before 7 will stop before 11 (a.m.).
  • Trees showing the undersides of their leaves foretell rain.
  • If ant hills are high in July, winter will be snowy.
  • If the first week in August is unusually warm, the coming winter will be snowy and long.
  • For every fog in August, there will be a snowfall the following winter.
  • Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry will cause snow to gather in a hurry.
  • A green Christmas = a white Easter.


    © Dana Goolsby

    "In The Pines With Dana Goolsby"
    January 27, 2012 Column
    This article was originally published on MYETX.com

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