Spoons in the persimmon seeds: Is winter snow on its way?

Weather

Look what a viewer shared with the Weather Authority via the Live Alert 19 app!

Jason Simpson, my husband and I opened up at least 20 of these persimmon seeds and here is some of them. Out of all we opened up it was spoons. Just wanted to let u see. I try to do this every year. Thanks for all u do.

The caption states:

Jason Simpson, my husband and I opened up at least 20 of these persimmon seeds and here is some of them. Out of all we opened up it was spoons. Just wanted to let u see. I try to do this every year. Thanks for all u do.– Anonymous

According to weather folklore, a persimmon seed may give clues about an upcoming winter’s weather.

The white, fibrous structure you see when you cut a persimmon’s seed open is actually the root– and the shape of the root, according to the myth, is what signals the type of winter weather to expect.

When cutting open a cross section, the seed’s root will either resemble a spoon, fork, or a knife.

The myth says a root in the shape of a spoon signals a “snowy” winter. If the root looks like a knife, it will be an icy winter. A fork is rumored to signal a mild winter.

But this is just a myth, right? Persimmon seeds don’t actually predict the upcoming season — but what are some of the teleconnections that meteorologists use to forecast weather conditions 4 to 12 weeks ahead of time?

La Niña in the Winter

One of teleconnections that meteorologists use for a long-term outlook is the El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. The three phases of ENSO are El Niño, La Niña and neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña).

In September, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that La Niña conditions formed within the Pacific Ocean.

La Niña is the term used to describe the cooling of the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, near the equator and along the coast of South America. If sea surface temperatures are considered below average consistently, during a 3-month rolling period of time, then La Niña conditions are considered to be present.

Weekly averaged sea surface temperature anomalies for the past twelve weeks. Source: Climate Prediction Center/NOAA

Typical La Niña weather for North America includes a jet stream that bends upward around the Gulf of Alaska (known as a ridge) while curving over the Pacific Northwest before developing a downward bend (known as a trough) over the Midwest.

Depending on where the jet stream develops, wetter weather is possible for north Alabama, though the entire Southeast — as a whole — tends to experience warmer conditions during La Niña winters.

La Nina’s impact on the U.S. winter weather

Never say never! Snow during a La Nina Winter?

That’s not to say that it never snows in the Southeast during a La Niña winter! In fact, the Christmas Snow of 2010 and the January snow/ice storm of 2011 occurred during a La Niña Winter, as shown in the rolling average monthly mean below.

A strong La Niña was present during the 2010-2011 snowstorms in north Alabama.

That winter, La Niña conditions were present, but overriding the “warmer trend” was a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation (AO), which brought record-cold temperatures as far south as Florida.

The cold air was in place as a low pressure system pulled moisture-rich air into north Alabama from the Gulf of Mexico.

As a result, north Alabama — and many areas nearby — enjoyed a “White Christmas” on December 25, 2010!

Do you have any persimmon seed observations you would like to share with the Weather Authority? If so, click the button below!

~ Christina

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