April showers bring May flowers and while I sit and write this it has been pouring rain, freezing rain and sleeting. The wind is blowing and its pretty cold outside so the fireplace is going today. April brings some of the widest variety of weather we will see all year. It can be freezing with snow on the ground in the morning to sunny and warm in the afternoon.

This kind of weather changes can bring severe weather and it’s time to make sure you’re ready. We talked last year about having a “go or ready kit” when bad weather strikes. Taking the time now to prepare may mean the difference between life and death.

You don’t want to waste time gathering supplies while a severe storm bears down on your home or workplace. Wisconsin Emergency Management WEM has a very good website with list to help you build your kit. If you don’t have internet access go to the local library, there are many books containing information on preparing for disasters.

If you prepare for the worst case scenario then the little incidents will not even make you worry. Take time to learn about the weather and how to forecast it yourself, not that many years ago farmers used animals, plants and things around them to keep ahead of the weather.

We have gotten away from this and rely on technology to tell us what is going to happen outside on a daily basis. Now don’t ignore what the weather man says but learning some of these old farmers tricks may come in handy.

Some of the old folklore goes like this, “The higher the clouds, the finer the weather” or “Clear moon, frost soon.” Some other are; “When clouds appear like towers, the Earth is refreshed by showers,” “Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning,” “Ring around the moon, rain real soon” and the one we all remember “Red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”

When you research what these phrases mean you will see how early weather was forecasted. Also by observing animals you’ll see that they, too, have their own ways of predicting weather.

Here are some animal weather proverbs and prognostics: Expect rain when dogs eat grass, cats purr and wash, sheep turn into the wind, oxen sniff the air, and swine are restless.

If the bull leads the cows to pasture, expect rain; if the cows precede the bull, the weather will be uncertain. When cats sneeze, it is a sign of rain. When cattle lie down in the pasture, it indicates early rain. Bats flying late in the evening indicate fair weather.

If the groundhog sees its shadow on Candlemas Day also known as Groundhogs Day (February 2), six more weeks of winter remain.

When horses and cattle stretch out their necks and sniff the air, it will rain. If the mole digs its hole 2½ feet deep, expect severe weather; if two feet deep, not so severe; if one foot deep, a mild winter.

When pigs gather leaves and straw in all, expect a cold winter. When rabbits are fat in October and November, expect a long, cold winter. If sheep ascend hills and scatter, expect clear weather. Wolves always howl more before a storm.

Other things to watch for in wild animals will be their preparation before a storm. Birds and squirrels will be more active at the feeders and disappear long before it gets bad outside. Clouds are probably the easiest way to predict the upcoming weather. Cumulonimbus clouds (traditional thunderstorm looking clouds) early in the day and developing throughout the day can mean greater chances of severe weather.

Mammatus cloud (the puffy, pocket looking clouds) can form with both severe and non-severe thunderstorms as well as other cloud types. Cirrus clouds (the stringy fluffy ones), high in the sky like long streamers, mean bad weather within the next 36 hours Altocumulus clouds, (look like fish scales), also “mean” bad weather within the next 36 hours.

The sailor’s saying is “Mares tails and mackerel scales, tall ships carry short sails.”  Rain is sure to follow the next day. Cumulus towers (look like an explosion in the sky) indicate the possibility of showers later in the day. Nimbostratus clouds (rain clouds) hang low and heavy in the sky, and mean rain is imminent.

Cirrocumulus clouds (small, puffy in rows) means that cold weather is on its way. “Keep an eye to the sky” this spring and you will be ready if bad weather is headed your way.

Here is an update from last week on the proposed railroad. I speculated on closed crossings based of information found on the Great Lakes Basin website. With more searching I was able to find a document that lists every intersection from it’s beginning to end.

Every intersection has some form of crossing listed and this makes my speculation incorrect. The information listed on Great Lakes Basin website does contradict this document based on their comment that “By eliminating at-grade railroad crossings, GLB would eliminate the risk of collisions at such crossings.

By minimizing highway-railroad grade crossings, GLB would minimize both the potential for train-vehicle collisions and potential conflicts with the movement of public safety vehicles and school buses.” So again make sure you do some research and educate yourself on how this will impact you.

Until next week, stay safe

Chief Rindfleisch