Man examines pig spleens to get winter forecastSome people predict storms because their joints ache, pressure changes because their heads hurt or rainfall because their hair curls.
By: Katie Ryan The Jamestown Sun, Worthington Daily Globe
Some people predict storms because their joints ache, pressure changes because their heads hurt or rainfall because their hair curls.
One Jamestown man predicts weather based on feelings in his guts, or rather, the guts of another creature.
Unlike reading satellites, radar or computer-generated maps like traditional meteorologists, for his climate projections James-town resident Norbert Schulz reads butchered pig spleens.
“I have no idea why the pigs know anything,” Schulz said, but it seems to work.
His forecast for this year seems accurate, he said. He’d predicted: We’re in for a long winter.
Jamestown received 7 inches of snow in November and December 2007 compared to the 34.5 inches it received in November and December 2008, according to the North Dakota State Hospital, which keeps snowfall records for the city.
John Wheeler, WDAY meteorologist, said he isn’t sure what to expect for the remainder of the winter, but said he uses healthy skepticism when relying on atypical weather predictions.
“The real test is careful verification,” Wheeler said.
Schulz makes his predictions based on the two or three pigs he’s butchered every November for about 10 years.
The practice of reading pig spleens is rare, Schulz said, saying he knows of maybe two others who attempted it. The pigs have to live outdoors and be butchered in the fall for the most accurate results, he said. Spleen reading just works, he said.
“I don’t know, but it seems like I’m not wrong,” he said.
Schulz learned how to read spleens while farming near Pingree. He said narrow spleens mean a short winter without too much snow and wide ones mean long, blustery ones. Some spleens vary in width with the top wide and the bottom narrow or vice versa, he said. That means some months are mild and some extreme, he said.
“This one was wide right along,” he said, meaning he expected snow and cold would hit the area early and not leave for about six more weeks.
“For years and years, I never saw anything like this,” he said.
Schulz predicted moderate winters for the last three or four years, he said, but this year, he gave employees at Walz Pharmacy two pieces of advice.
“Go get yourselves a pair of coveralls and a shovel,” he remembers telling them.
Pharmacist Laurel Har-oldson said she took his suggestions, and solidified her plans for snow removal.
“I got my snow shovel out,” she said.
Employees at Walz Pharamacy like hearing what Schulz has to say, Haroldson said, even if they aren’t always pleased with the news.
“We can’t really give him grief because he’s been pretty accurate,” she said of the seven or eight years Schulz has given forecasts when he’s visited the pharmacy.
Despite some other Farmer’s Almanac-type methods, Schulz said his is reliable.
“You can forget about that little animal crawling in the hole,” Schulz said of the Pennsylvania groundhog who on Feb. 2 determines the longevity of winter if it can see its shadow. Despite what Punxsutawney Phil predicts, Schulz said, the Jamestown area can expect cold and snow through March.
But after that, he said, this area can expect some calm.
“After we settle down from this,” he said, “it’s going to be really nice.”