PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Punxsutawney Phil's prediction of six more weeks of winter is probably not surprising given the January we just had. And while many, including the Stormtracker 16 team, would argue there is no actual science behind a groundhog seeing or not seeing his shadow, there are animals that have extrasensory capabilities and therefore are believed to be able to sense the weather that is coming.
"Dogs, with their superior sense of smell, can sense the metallic smell of a thunderstorm or an electrical storm or something like that," said Joe Iacovazzi, a biology instructor at Keystone College.
The diversity of animals, and animal behaviors, is one of Iacovazzi's favorite topics to discuss with his students.
"Cows, they're very large organisms, so when they stand, they dissipate their heat a little bit easier, so that means when they're sitting down, that means they're cold, and also they may be trying to preserve a dry spot for them when it rains."
Frogs are dependent on the environment for their breeding. Justin Elchynski, the reptile curator at the Electric City Aquarium, explains.
"Typically, frogs are looking to be laying their eggs after it rains because pools will be filled up, and that provides a place for them to lay and a place for tadpoles to grow up," he said. "It's actually believed that frogs can sense changes in barometric pressure which indicates that a storm is coming in, and when they sense that change, they'll actually start calling, attempting to attract a female, and hopefully they'll be able to breed."
So, when rain is on the way, frogs will croak louder and longer. Frogs are not the only ones who can sense that change in pressure.
"Sharks, for example, they can also sense barometric pressure. They move into cooler, deeper waters in the approach of a hurricane, so they can avoid all of that altogether," Iacovazzi said.
And birds are another good example of animals sensing that pressure change.
"The high atmospheric pressure can hurt their ears and their equilibrium and things like that. So usually, if you're seeing birds low to the ground and flying low to the ground, that may be indicative of a high-pressure system," said Iacovazzi.
Now the question is, are these animals better at predicting the weather than Joe Snedeker?
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