Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pig Spleen Meteorology

My friend Jeanette told me about this crazy story she heard on NPR tonight about a crazy old guy who predicts weather by looking at pig spleens. At first, I didn't believe her, but apparently, this is a system that has been used for some time. It is even in the Farmer's Almanac!!

Apparently, they look at the thickness of different parts of the spleen and can predict the average temperature and precipitation. Starting from the top to the bottom the length of the spleen represents the months of January to June. Any lumps found along the spleen means snow, rain, wind, blizzards or lightening storms.

There is a caveat: The pig spleen forecasting only works from January to June and only within a 200-mile radius of where the pigs are kept.

Don't believe me? Check out these links.

And here is a schematic of famed meteorologist Gus Wickstrom's predictions from the pig spleen in 1998.


Will said...

Steve - we believe you that people do this (if I'm hopped up on moonshine during the pig slaughter that's probably the least crazy thing I'd come up with) but the question is DOES IT WORK???

Jeanette said...

How unusual, someone doesn't believe me! All it takes is a little bit of faith and research to realize...although I may embellish, I am not smart enough to make this shit up!!

Gus Wickstrom's nephew... that is who the NPR story was about. He inherited the museum and had to learn how to read the spleens.
As for you Will--here you go for evidence based medicine (or should I say EB spleen meterology):

An excerpt from the MNBC article

"Smokov's Ukrainian parents brought their knowledge of pig spleen forecasting with them when they came to the U.S. a century ago. As for listening to forecasts on the radio, electricity did not reach Smokov's ranch until 1949.

"The spleens are 85 percent correct, according to my figures," he said. As for the weathermen, "Those guys aren't any better."

At the National Weather Service office in North Dakota, meteorologist Vic Jensen relies on Doppler radar and other sophisticated scientific instruments. But he is charitable toward folk methods such as Smokov's.

"I can't discount some of these kinds of theories," Jensen said. "It's just another way for people to forecast what's going to happen."'