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The world's strangest weather predictors include seaweed, an onion, and more

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer

Groundhog Day 2017 - Punxsutawney Phil

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


Punxsutawney Phil may be America's contribution to quirky weather forecasting techniques, but others around the world rely on methods as bizarre as whether a groundhog sees his shadow. Elsewhere, cattle, shellfish, parrots -- and even an onion -- are used to predict what's ahead with the weather.

1. Maori birds
The Maori in New Zealand have a number of weather and climate indicators; two that stand out involve the kaka, a parrot, and the kotuku, a heron. If a kaka begins acting up, twisting and squawking above the forest, a storm is on the way. And if kotukus are plentiful in the summer, then gales and a heavy winter will follow.

2. Seaweed
Here's a handy cheat for beach bums; just hang dry seaweed by your door overnight. If the seaweed is dry, it'll be a dry day, but damp seaweed portends rain. Of course, this assumes you have dry seaweed lying around to start with.

RELATED:
Punxsutawney Phil isn't the only famous groundhog: These 5 states have their own weather prognosticators
Groundhog Day's history: How Punxsutawney Phil became an international, weather-predicting celebrity
5 things about Punxsutawney Phil you probably don't know

3. The weather on St. Swithin's Day
In England, according to an old rhyme, the weather on July 15 supposedly will last another 40 days. "St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain/For 40 days it will remain./St. Swithin's day if thou be fair/For 40 days 'twill rain nae mare." It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but perhaps it's best to say nae mare about it.


4. Ethiopian cattle
Borena herders in southern Ethiopia believe a future drought is forecast if cattle become calm and sleep in the pen very close to one another. Or, if they refuse to graze in a nearby pasture and prefer to stay near water points even after drinking.

5. Kiribati shellfish
On the Pacific islands of Kiribati, locals look to the shellfish nimatanin, which can be found in the shallows on the reef by the islands' beaches. The shellfish will stay on the surface of the rock if there will be nice weather, but if worse is ahead, they will remain in the crevices of the reef, and the deeper they hide, the worse the conditions will be.

6. An onion
Queensland, Australia, native Halwyn Herrmann uses a locally grown onion and table salt to predict a year's worth of weather. According to the Queensland Times, Herrmann cuts an onion in half at midnight on New Year's Eve, removes six rings from the left half (representing the first six months of the year) and six rings from the right (for the last six months). Then he places salt in each ring and leaves it until 4:30 the next morning. Whatever volume of water is in each ring because of the salt, "you just measure by eye," he says. "And the more water there is, the more rain for that month."

It's not exactly the most scientific method, but at least he's not monitoring the sleeping habits of cattle.

This week’s episode of Everything Under the Sun covers two topics. First, host Regina Miller talks to Punxsutawney Phil's handler, John Griffiths for a fun look at the history and tradition of Groundhog Day. Then, Regina discusses the Polar Vortex with AccuWeather's long range team. What is it, and what impact will it have on the length of the winter cold? Tune in to find out!

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