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Birds predict a cold, wet winter for US

By Marshall Connolly
October 5th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Complex computer models perfected over the decades help scientists predict the weather, but those models have nothing on birds. Although they have no space program, no radar, and no television, the birds of North America are predicting this winter will be wetter and colder for some parts of the country.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Of course, it's always wetter and colder in one part of the country or another, but what makes the birds' prediction so notable is that it seems to coincide remarkably well with the computer models. 

Early bird migrations and computer models both predict a wet winter for California, with above average snowfall for the Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies. The northern tier of states will have a warmer and drier winter than usual. 

On the eastern seaboard down to Florida, cold and wet is also in the forecast. And from the southwest across the interior of the South, and up to New York and Maine, the weather is expected to be average.

One of the key birds scientists watch are sandhill cranes. Scientists have found the birds to be excellent bellwethers for the coming winter based on the timing of their migration. The birds flourish in the mild winters of the San Joaquin Valley. For many, their arrival is the first sign of the coming winter.

Scientists say this year's migration is one of the earliest on record. 

Meanwhile, the models seem to agree.

The San Joaquin Valley is a rich agricultural area, but it often suffers from dry, hot conditions and drought. If it turns out the birds are right, then farmers and residents of the valley have good news on tap for 2013. 


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