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UPDATE:  Here is the 2018 Report:  https://gulllakesk.ca/2018/01/08/2018-pig-spleen-weather-forecast/

Pig Spleen Prognostication

Most think the best part of a pig is the bacon – but for farmers in the know – it’s the SPLEEN

Well it looks like I missed the big “Pig Spleen” Boxing Day party – but thankfully I still have the results of the party with the Pig Spleen Forecast for 2013.

What IS a Pig Spleen Forecast you might ask?  Good question.

Gus Wickstrom, Pig Spleen Prognosticator

The Town of Tompkins has a sign proudly proclaiming themselves as the home of Gus Wickstrom

Known officially as “Pig Spleen Prognostication” it’s most famous prognosticator was a man by the name of Gus Wickstrom, a farmer of Swedish descent who lived in the area around Tompkins, Saskatchewan.  Using the spleen of a freshly butchered pig at the start of the new year (though some will say Spring spleens will bring much more accurate results), Gus was was able to predict the weather up to six months in advance by means not of fancy diagnostic equipment, but simply from looking at it, and when the need arises – even biting into it to ensure accuracy.  An accuracy Gus claimed was as high as 80%.

According to the folklore learned from Gus’s Swedish grandfather, the spleen when looked at should be divided into six areas with each area representing a calendar month.  The top of the spleen (the part closest to the pig’s head) starts as January, and moves on down the line.  Where it’s seen as thickened, a change in weather (that’s usually cold) is indicated, and where there is a pronounced bulge – well…look out, because it’s getting colder yet.

Jeff Woodward, Pig Spleen Prognosticator

Jeff Woodward bites the spleen of a pig as part of his yearly weather forecast. Photo courtesy Kit Simpson of the Gull Lake Advance Newspaper.

Sadly Gus passed in 2007, but not before he passed his considerable forecasting knowledge on to his nephew Jeff Woodward, who carries on the family tradition to this day.

Check out Jeff’s Forecast for 2013 following this Video of Gus in action in a great interview he did with Southwest TV News that really captures the character and flavour of this pig spleen prognosticator!


The snow accumulation will be significant and it is a good year to have a snowmobile.

The forecast this year is based on several spleens from the Ear View Hutterite Colony south of Gull Lake, and a few spleens from Don Friesen from Waldheim Sask. The winter of 2013 looks like it will have much more precipitation than normal with general snow and the possibility or tendency towards rains and freezing rains.  The trends will be similar for Waldheim although there will be less significant precipitation than southwest Saskatchewan.  Although the winter is starting out cold, this will change in early January with much more erratic warm and cold than we have seen so far.  The snow accumulation will be significant and it is a good year to have a snowmobile. Precipitation tend towards rain and freezing rain instead of regular snowfalls.  For the Cypress Hills area, the opportunity for seeding will be a early and a break in precipitation in May will provide an opportunity to get the seed in the ground and take advantage of the rain at the end of June.  There are two anomalies in the spleen that cover the Mar 16-23 and April 10-15 that are difficult to predict. These dates will be significant.

January: The general tendency from January 1 to February 21 is for snow and rain.  There will be rain and snow on Jan 2 and Jan 15 followed by colder weather and snow again on Jan 20. The start of the month from Jan 1 to 16 will be mild however the New Moon on Jan 11 will be colder than normal. The conditions following will be abnormal with lots of cloud and overcast and light snow particularly early in the morning towards the end of the month.  After Jan 20, Jan 27-28 is likely to have snow and between Jan 20 and Jan 31 there will be general light snow on several days which will accumulate.  Highway conditions for the entire month will generally be poor with frost and slippery conditions particularly in the mornings. The rain and freezing rain will make these days particularly treacherous.

 February: The start of the month will be be a continuation of January, generally mild, overcast and moist which will culminate with a snow event on Feb 15.  The groundhog will likely see his shadow however this will not be a good indicator of the winter in this area. Colder weather will set in towards the end of the month starting on Feb 21. Precipitation will stop at the end of the month.

 March: The beginning of March will be clear and sunny and a return to warmer weather. Early snowmelt will cause much of the snow to consolidate and some runoff will result. An anomaly in the spleen on Mar 16 to 23 will signify a significant change in the weather (around St. Patricks Day) which will probably be a late storm that will taper off towards the end of the month.The conditions will gradually dissipate and easter will be a mix of sun and cloud but should be warm.

 April: Mixed conditions will be maintained at the start of April.  Another significant event will occur between April 10 and April 15 which I am interpreting as abnormally warm and windy weather for the area.  This should be the time that the land dries significantly making conditions right for seeding. Following April 15, there are no significant precipitation  events in April.

 May: May will see some light rains however nothing significant for the entire month. There is very little information in the spleen for this month only that light precipitation will build into June.

 June: June will start off normal and will turn wet towards the end.  Starting around June 10, there will be some precipitation and colder than normal temperatures peaking around June 18. June 19 will be rain free however after a small window of nice weather, the rain will return until June 25 when it will stop until the end of the month.

 July: The weather in the South West will be atypical of the rest of the province where the drier than normal conditions will prevail particularly in the North West.

This year, the spleens had allot of fatty deposits and were relatively consistent in appearance.  It should be noted that the spleen from Waldheim did not have the same anomalies as the Ear View Spleens.  There was however an anomaly that should occur around January 10 where this portion of the spleen had a ring of fat on the front of the spleen meaning there is not a strong delineation between temperature and precipitation

Jeff Woodward, PSP.