Animal Forecasters: What can animals tell us about the weather?


RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – As we all know forecasting the weather is not an exact science. It relies on a combination of experience, intuition, and scientific knowledge. But even without any book learning, some of the best forecasters can be animals, and they let us know about it.

As many of you shared with me on my facebook page, your four legged family members give you clues that something is going to happen...they start to whine, pace, cry, shake, or find the nearest hiding place.  They're nervous and the main trigger is thunderstorms. These behaviors can show up long before the storm arrives and likely because of a drop in air pressure.

At the Metro Richmond Zoo, the tigers love the rain and the snow.

"In a typical rain, they just act normal, but if it's getting ready to thunder, we'll actually notice them on edge and then without fail, the thunder starts, and lightning," said Jim Andelin with the Metro Richmond Zoo.

And animals don't predict just weather, the chimpanzees let the zookeepers know something big was going to happen on August 23rd, the day of the Louisa County earthquake.

"Before the earthquake happened they started hollering and whooping it up, more of an alarm, like if they were threatened with something, that type of alarm call, and they started screaming and screaming and then it went on for a long time after the earthquake," Andelin said.

And then there is "Polar", the perfect name for a dog who has a unique ability that will soon come in handy, he can predict snow!

"He predicts snow with 100% accuracy," said Rachel Henkle, Polar's owner.

At the age of 12, this yellow lab is not as young and active as he used to be, but he barks, runs around, and wears himself out warning the family that snow is on the way.

"Like, if it's a 30% thing, and he's barking, it's gonna snow. If it's a 90% chance and he doesn't bark, it won't snow," she said.

So this winter when Richmond is on that dreaded rain/snow line, like we so often are...we know who to call on to see if the forecast is on the right track.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved