Although spring is in the near future, we can almost certainly expect another winter storm in late February or March. There is always the possibility of an April Fool’s Day blizzard as we had in 1997. While we have television and radio meteorologists as well as the National Weather Service to alert us to incoming storms, that was not the case in the first half of the twentieth century. Granby, however, had its own weather prophet, Norwood T. Case, to predict the weather through nature and his own intuition.
Norwood T. Case was born and raised on the family farm in East Granby, where the family grew tobacco and raised dairy cattle. After farming for a portion of his life, he moved to Granby and worked as a manager at the Hartford Market. He was a well-known community leader in both towns, serving as the East Granby Town Assessor as well as a member of its Board of Selectman. In Granby, he served nine years as the Democratic Town Registrar and volunteered as a Grand Juror for Hartford County.
In his farming days, it was imperative that Case know the future forecast to have a successful season. Every morning at 7 a.m., he would record the temperature, the direction of the wind and the location of the clouds in the sky. When the first snow fell in November, he searched for cat tracks in the snow. From their impression, he predicted how many winter storms Granby would experience that season.
For the winter of 1940-41, he predicted 26 storms and he was exactly right. The next winter season, he predicted 27 and was off by one; Granby saw 26. He also used birds for more specific forecasts. In the late fall of 1945, Case was watching the birds and noticed the southward migration of the robins and swallows. This observation informed his prediction of the average snow fall for the year—50 to 54 inches of snow compared to the 87 and a half inches the year before.
During the winter, Case and his brother cut ice blocks out of Cranberry Pond to store and sell in the spring and summer months. Case could determine if it would be a cold winter by watching how the squirrels hid their nuts as well as the longer length of their fur coats and those of the farm animals. When asked about the cold weather, he would reply, “Moon is always to the north, which always means cold weather.”
As every weatherman experiences, there were times when he got it wrong and received criticism, to which he replied, “I may be wrong, but then the weatherman on the radio is quite often wrong himself.”
Norwood died at the age of 82 on May 3, 1948. At his funeral, Reverend Arthur Teale remarked, “The weather lore that Mr. Case used could not come from books…it must have originated from close observation of nature combined with a useful skill of legendary knowledge.” Norwood was placed next to his wife, who died two years earlier, at the Hillcrest Mausoleum in Springfield, Mass.
To learn more about Norwood T. Case or the history of weather in Granby, join the Salmon Brook Historical Society by calling 860-653-9713 or visit salmonbrookhistoricalsociety.com