Above normal temps, less snow forecast for coming season
It depends who you believe.
Some people rely on the old Indian cat-tracker formula.
Others look to the wooly bear caterpillar, the Farmers' Almanac or the National Weather Service.
Janesville received its first measurable snows when 0.01 of an inch fell Nov. 25 and again Wednesday night.
The first significant snowfall of the season came Thursday night, when 3 to 5 inches were forecast to fall.
The official arrival of winter is Dec. 21. What does the season have in store?
The cat-tracker formula, kept alive by the Ties family of Brodhead, predicts 34 snows this winter. It's based on the date of the first snow plus the age in days of the new moon.
The first measurable snowfall in Janesville was Nov. 25. The last new moon was Nov. 16. So, the moon was nine days old Nov. 25. Add nine and 25 to get 34 snows.
Scientifically minded people might believe meteorologist Chris Kuhlman at the National Weather Service in Sullivan. He said the Wisconsin winter will be warmer than normal.
"But that doesn't mean for the entire winter," he said. "It's a very good possibility we can have a month at below normal. But, overall, the entire winter outlook is slightly above normal as far as temperatures."
Kuhlman said there is no clear indication how much snow we'll get, but believes "it will be very likely less than the last two years," when snowfall was above normal.
If you look for signs in nature, such as the wooly bear caterpillar, you'll find the coming winter will be mild.
Since the 1600s, some people have believed that the wooly bear stripes forecast the winter weather. If a wooly bear caterpillar's brown stripes are thick, the winter will be mild. If the brown stripes are narrow, the winter will be severe.
Wilbur, winner of the Annual Wooly Worm Festival in North Carolina, offers a prediction for 13 weeks of winter—one for each stripe. The 13 weeks include four weeks of "cold" and two weeks of "below average cold."
Some people swear by the reliability of forecasts in the Farmers' Almanac.
For December, the annual book predicts 24 "cold" days in December and January and four "very cold" days in January. Only eight days in December and January are supposed to have "heavy snow."
We'll have to wait until spring to see which predictions were most accurate.
Snowfall brings minor accidents
Rock County's emergency responders and dispatchers were busy during the afternoon commute Thursday night.
But, by the time things settled down around 7:30 p.m., no major accidents were reported.
The number of runoffs and fender-benders was surprising, Rock County Communications Supervisor Brian Becker said.
"We had so many of them it's hard to even fathom," Becker said.
City of Edgerton EMS responded to three accidents between 4 and 5 p.m.
That made nearby departments step in to help, Becker said.
"Edgerton came down to Milton. Milton went over to Edgerton. Janesville had to go to Milton. Milton went up to Fort Atkinson," Becker said. "Everybody helped scratch everybody's back."
In the City of Janesville, accidents were also numerous but minor, police Sgt. Chad Pearson said. The list included reports of cars bumping into light poles and skidding past other cars.
"It's the typical response we get to the first wet day of the season," Pearson said.
—Ann Marie Ames