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Predicting weather with a stick

Kasia Bodurka, reporting
November 5, 2011 — It may seem out of the ordinary, but using a stick to predict the weather has been a native tradition for many years. Kasia Bodurka explains.

The weather stick is a native tradition
The weather stick is a native tradition

Sue Ann Bavlnka checks a weather stick outside her window every morning.

“When the stick is pointing up towards the sky, you can expect great weather. It's going to be sunny, it's going to be dry,” she says. “But as the moisture builds in the air, the stick starts to work towards a down position.”

Cat Criger, a Traditional Elder at the University of Toronto - Mississauga Campus, says that the weather stick has been a native tradition for a long time.

“The weather stick is, if I can use the term, a native invention that originated with the Abenaki people down south of the border near Vermont. And it's been with our people for as long as I know or I can find out or as far as we can research it. it's simply part of a balsam or a fir tree.”

But how does a weather stick actually work?

“The key to it seems to be changes in relative humidity that affects the branch in different ways on different sides of the branch,” says Bryn Jones, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

“What happens when there's a change in humidity is that the one side of the branch will respond more than the other in terms of the cells either absorbing humidity as it's increasing or expelling humidity as the air's getting drier. And that causes the stick to bend.”

The weather stick is a useful tool to gauge what the weather will be like. But if you want to know the temperature, or the forecast for the next few days, you can check your local forecast.

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