The beautiful sunsets and clear starry skies this fall have been the best I can remember in years.

Just when I thought the leaves weren’t going to change colors, this week’s vibrant performance came through. Things have been so hectic, I am late in my annual winter weather prognostications.

As faithful readers of this column know, for a number of years I have endeavored to predict just how bad, or good, our cold months will be. I have taken my respect of the late Helen Lane, perhaps the best weather foreteller in state history, and morphed it into my own perspective.

The Griffith Ecological Meteorological Scale (GEMS) has become the local guide for many folks when it comes to winter weather forecasting.

Of course, I am somewhat biased, but I truly believe I owe it to our community to be proactive.

Due to the strange events of 2020, I have changed the observation period for my weather omens from the usual Aug. 15 to Sept. 15 time frame to Aug. 15 to Oct. 22. That gave me a longer period to assimilate my database, thus providing a more accurate assessment.

The seven categories I use, as well as the scoring system and outcomes, are the same. As usual, I welcome any and all comments from those of you who wish to respond.

This year’s groups are as follows. The numbers in parentheses represent my scores leading to the outcome predictions below.

1) number of yellow jacket stings while mowing (1)

2) number of cobwebs run into without seeing them (6)

3) number of blue-tailed skinks on our back porch (18)

4) number of days with musky deer smells (7)

5) number of times accidentally stepping on a house cricket (2)

6) number of nights hearing coyotes in the woods (2)

7) number of woolly worms seen during the daylight (1)

The scoring and prediction results are:

Zero-10: two snows of less than three inches each, 15 days under 40 degrees.

11-20: four snows over three inches each; 20 days under 40.

21-30: six or more snows totaling 20 inches; 30 days under 40

Over 30: The amount of snow and ice will require you to buy the best Arctic gear available, keep the home fires going all day, and planning to stay indoors until the first day of spring.

Though my score this year is less than 2019, I am dangerously close to the rare 40 point level. Therefore, my wife and I are planning a southern journey that might be below the equator (if I can get over my fear of flying).

And, if I am wrong with my forecasts, do not blame me, blame these legendary characters: Hiems, the Roman deity of winter; Boreas, the Greek personification of the north wind; and Shakok, the Native American spirit of winter.

And, no matter what happens, here’s wishing you and yours a safe, warm and healthy winter.

Until next time:

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we had not sometimes a taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” — Anne Bradstreet

“It seems like everything sleeps in winter, but it’s really a time of renewal and reflection.” — Elizabeth Carden

Dr. Shelley Griffith is a retired Athens physician who writes this column for The DPA.

Dr. Shelley Griffith is a retired Athens physician who writes this column for The DPA.

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