August fog and winter snow, is it true?
CHARLOTTE, NC – In the mountains of North Carolina, many people know the folklore that says “For every fog in August, there will be a snowfall.” People usually keep track with beans or even coins in the jar. Some variants have large squalls for heavy fog meaning heavy snow and small squalls for light fog and light snow.
Either way, this folklore has existed for generations in many parts of the country, including many parts of Appalachia and North Carolina.
Is there a correlation between fog in August and snowfall in winter?
No, foggy days in August do not correspond to snowy days in winter.
WHAT WE FOUND
While many weather folklores have a few small grains of truth or valid connections to nature and weather, most do not. The only real way to know is to look at the data, which I did.
For this, we use official weather observations from Boone, NC, which are taken at Watauga County Hospital. This automated observation system takes measurements every minute, every hour, every day throughout the year.
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I looked at the average number of days per August that fog was reported at any given time of day for Boone. The average number of foggy days was 6.2 days per August. Also, ironically, Spetemebr actually has more foggy days and, combined with August, has the most foggy days per year.
Then I looked at the same place for the number of snowfalls of any kind for any hour during the winter season. This came out at 29.6 days where it snowed between October and April. If I reduce that to the meteorological winter from December to February, you still get 27.8 days of snow on average per winter. All of this is well above the average of 6.2 foggy days in August.
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What about measurable snowfall only?
What if we just looked at the days when it snowed really stuck? Which is defined as a measurable snowfall of 0.10″ or more. This number is much closer to but still much higher than the average day. Year-to-year totals vary, but the average over 30 years ranged from 17 to 13 measurable snow days per year.
While keeping track of foggy days in August is fun and really keeps you away from the crazy heat and humidity, there is no data or scientific correlation to days with snowfall. Sure, there are probably years when the number is close, but that’s more of a mere coincidence and not a correlation.
With 22 years of data, the average would have to be at least statistically close for there to be a true correlation.
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