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WEATHER U: Pining for dry weather

Weather U - pine cones-EDITED 36975168_l
When bad weather is on the horizon, a pie cone's scales close up. - 123RF Stock Photo

It’s been wet for a few days. You don’t need me to tell you that and sometimes, you don’t need much more than a stroll in the woods.

I’ve never used pine cones to predict the weather, but I do notice them when I’m out for a good nature walk. My grandmother always noticed them. She said that if the scales on the cone were open, the weather was going to be nice. If the cone was tightly closed, there was rain or snow on the way.

She was right! Here’s why.

Pine cones have traditionally been used to forecast the weather because they change shape according to the humidity in the air. In dry weather, pine cones open out as the scales shrivel and stand out stiffly. When it is damp, the scales absorb moisture and as the scales become flexible again, the cone returns to its normal shape.

By the way, you can check out the theory by putting a pine cone on a baking sheet in the oven. The hot oven will dry out the cone and the scales will open up. But remember, the cone is not reacting to the temperature change. It’s reacting to the change in humidity; the oven is drying out your pine cone.

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