Appalachia Folklore Weather

Folklore about Snow


The Foxfire Book

  • If it snows crosslegged it’ll be a deep one.
  • If it’s cloudy and smoke rises it might snow.
  • The number of days old the moon is at the first snow-tells how many snows there’ll be that winter.
  • If snow lays on the ground for 3 days it’s waiting for another snow.

B. Ruth

  • Wait until the snow flies before you rob wild bees.
  • If you scrub your wooden floors with water from melted snow they’ll turn black.
  • Dry snow scattered over a dusty floor and quick swept out will beat any carpet sweeper ever you’ll buy.

~James Still~ from
The Wolfpen Notebooks

Granny Sue: 

  • The day of the month the first measurable snow falls is supposed to be the number of measurable snows that winter.

Barb Wright:

  • If the wild birds are very busy at feeders (or in the barn, etc.) and if the cows act restless,there will be snow. Both my dad and grandpa said this,and it seems to hold true.

Ed Ammons:

  • My mother used to say “if it snows like meal, it’ll snow a great deal.”

Ethelene Dyer Jones:

  • My daddy used to count the fogs in August and held to “The number of fogs in August, the number of snows in winter.”

Jim Casada:

  • A cross-legged snow will be deep (A cross-legged snow is one where wind is in play, driving the snow flakes this way and that. The connection with a deep snow makes sense, because such winds are usually associated with strong fronts.)
  • Snow hanging on the ground; it’s waiting for more to come
  • Chimney smoke hugging the ground; there snow will soon be found
  • Rabbits up and about in broad daylight, there will be snow before it’s night.
  • If there is no snow in January, Snow will come in March or April.
  • When there’s lots of snow, A fruitful crop will often grow.
  • When the ground and grass is dry at morning light, expect snow before the night.
  • When heavy frost is on the grass, snow seldom comes to pass.
  • Birds active and flying low, beware of a coming snow.
  • When the moon carries a halo, it’s a sign of coming snow.
  • Rabbits moving on a winter day, a heavy snow is on the way.
  • When dimmer stars disappear, rain or snow is quite near.
  • When clouds move against the wind, Rain or snow is around the bend.
  • When hornets build their nest’s extra high; Look for snow nearing your thigh.


Got any other snow folklore? If so please share it!



Come cook with me!

Location: John C. Campbell Folk School – Brasstown, NC
Date: Sunday, June 23 – Saturday, June 29, 2019
Instructors: Carolyn Anderson, Tipper Pressley

Experience the traditional Appalachian method of cooking, putting up, and preserving the bounty from nature’s garden. Receive hands-on training to make and process a variety of jellies, jams, and pickles for winter eating. You’ll also learn the importance of dessert in Appalachian culture and discover how to easily make the fanciest of traditional cakes. Completing this week of cultural foods, a day of bread making will produce biscuits and cornbread. All levels welcome.

Along with all that goodness Carolyn and I have planned a couple of field trips to allow students to see how local folks produce food for their families. The Folk School offers scholarships you can go here to find out more about them. For the rest of the class details go here.

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  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    October 25, 2019 at 6:33 am

    Snow is the poor farmer’s fertilizer. I suppose this one holds some wisdom as the snow pulls nitrogen from the atmosphere and it is more likely to soak into the soil than rain which doesn’t soak in as it is more likely to run off.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Jim Casada, thank you for explaining “a cross-legged snow.” I love the imagery of that expression, but had no idea how it applied.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Snow, Snow stay away come again some other day or was that suppose to be rain instead. O well, works for me.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 30, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    Why do folks say “it’s cold as whiz”…when I always thought whiz was warm…lol Guess it depends on what part of the country and how one is adjusted to cold….
    Cold here, not any snow in our neck of the woods today, a dry flake or two whirled around early…Only a skiff yesterday to a double skiff in some spots, like the metal truck roof etc. All gone today but very cold…
    Next Saturday will give us a hint to look forward to or not…A wise old ground hog would not venture out to tell anyone what he feels about the Spring arrival or not…
    Love this post…
    Thanks Tipper…stay warm..
    PS..the birds are eating us out of house and home…we’ve been adding cracked corn to the seed…the ones that eat it like Doves, Jays and some woodpeckers….is supposed to keep them warmer…I made suet cakes for Carolina Wrens, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Ladder Back Woodpeckers and Flickers…Nuthatches, Titmice and Carolina and Black Capped Chickadees love it too…The Towhee’s (Jorees) and Juncos feed on the ground so we scatter seed for them as well…The Angel Cardinals have been arriving by the droves…at the sunflower feeders…and Gold Finches, Purple Finches and others are dining on the Niger Socks….Love my birds…

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    January 30, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Here’s one more: The date that it snows enough for a goose to leave tracks is the number of measurable snows that winter.
    and of course, a green Christmas means a busy graveyard in the spring.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 30, 2019 at 9:32 am

    I recall several of these from my youth; smoke to the ground, fogs in August = winter snows, increased animal activity before a storm and whether hornet nests are high or low with high meaning, as I recall, a bad winter (or maybe vice versa?).

    Just looking before I read today’s post. Temp here now is 25 F but there is no frost. Relative humidity is only 48%. Lack of frost means that even with temperatures in the 20’s the dewpoint, when air moisture condenses and freezes as frost, was not reached. Good for the survival of my winter garden plants.

    I used the National Weather Service wind chill calculator and it came out 15.1 degrees Fahrenheit. I’d tell a man we are having winter this year. It will do me Ok anyway.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Lord have mercy. Just reading all those ideas, sent my brain in a spin. I think it was rare to get snow down south so maybe that is why I never heard those sayings. Up here I have heard, if there is a wide black band on the caterpillars we are in for a snowy winter.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2019 at 9:02 am

    I can’t think of a single saying about snow, which is kind of amazing considering I live in Massachusetts! But Ed Ammons’ mother’s saying expresses something I’ve often observed – a very fine snowfall that looks like it can’t possibly amount to anything is the one that often ends up leaving deep snow. That’s the kind of “nothing” snowfall that gets me right outdoors bringing in extra wood and making sure there is plenty of hay within reach near the barns. Ed, if you don’t mind, I will start using your mother’s saying!

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      January 30, 2019 at 11:07 am

      My mother, were she here, would be proud to have you repeat her little saying!

      • Reply
        February 1, 2019 at 11:21 am

        Thank you, Ed! And the timing is funny, because we had just that sort of snow later the same day – so I was able to share your mother’s saying right away 🙂

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    January 30, 2019 at 8:35 am

    The old springhouse here has no electric. The old carpets upstairs needed cleaning. I followed the old advice of sweeping them with snow. The white snow became dirty with each sweep of the broom as it lifted the dirt and dust from the rugs. It works.
    The red cardinals appeared predicting this snow we had overnight. They are a sign of snow to come.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 30, 2019 at 8:30 am

    I’ve always heard that if snow stays on on the ground for three days it’s waiting for more.

    • Reply
      October 31, 2019 at 12:05 pm

      When the geese take flight in Fall, from that day six weeks forward the weather will make a big change. Very accurate.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 30, 2019 at 8:00 am

    The birds certainly were busy before this snow flurry. I had to fill the feeders twice the day before. The turkeys gobbled up their food in the morning and came back for more by noon. I love all of the lore.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    January 30, 2019 at 7:10 am

    I love weather and znimal lore both. Thanks

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