Las Cabañuelas: An Ancient Tradition of Weather Prediction


Peering into the Future: The Ancient Tradition of Las Cabañuelas Image: Shutterstock/ Flystock

IN the realm of weather prediction and climate understanding, there exists a unique and ancient practice known as ‘Las Cabañuelas,’ (there is no translation but in English, they are referred to as the weathermen). This time-honoured tradition, deeply rooted in various cultures across the world, offers a fascinating glimpse into the ways in which humans have sought to decipher and anticipate the patterns of nature. Though the science of meteorology has evolved significantly over the years, the art of Las Cabañuelas continues to captivate our imagination as a harmonious blend of folklore, observation, and intuition.

The Origins of Las Cabañuelas

The origins of Las Cabañuelas can be traced back to ancient civilizations that relied heavily on agriculture and were attuned to the subtle changes in the environment. This practice has been particularly prevalent in regions with strong agrarian traditions, where farmers and rural communities depended on accurate weather predictions to plan their planting, harvesting, and other agricultural activities.

Various cultures have embraced the practice under different names – from ‘Cabañuelas’ in Spain and Latin America to ‘Cabanas’ in the Philippines and ‘Cabanatuan’ in the Caribbean. Despite the linguistic and regional variations, the core principle remains the same: interpreting weather patterns during specific periods at different times throughout the year to forecast the weather for each corresponding month.

The Observational Approach

At the heart of Las Cabañuelas lies a holistic and observational approach to predicting weather patterns. This method involves closely observing atmospheric conditions, natural phenomena, and even animal behaviours during specific periods that correspond to the months of the year. The belief is that these observations during the early days of January serve as a microcosm or reflection of what the weather will be like for the rest of the year.

For instance, certain signs, such as the direction of the wind, the clarity of the sky, the behaviour of animals, and even the growth of plants, are believed to provide valuable insights into the upcoming weather patterns. Cloud formations, the appearance of the moon, and the temperature are meticulously noted and interpreted to create a weather forecast for each month.

Intuition and Wisdom

Las Cabañuelas, while rooted in observation, also holds a space for intuition and accumulated wisdom. The elders of communities who have practiced this art for generations often play a central role, in passing down their knowledge to younger generations. Their ability to sense subtle changes in the environment and interpret signs is a testament to the deep connection humans can have with the natural world.

A Blend of Tradition and Modern Science

In the age of advanced meteorological technology and sophisticated weather forecasting models, it might be tempting to dismiss practices like Las Cabañuelas as mere superstition. However, there’s something valuable in this ancient approach that complements modern science rather than opposes it. The reliance on direct observations of the environment fosters a strong bond between humans and nature, reminding us of our interconnectedness and dependence on the Earth‘s rhythms.

Furthermore, it’s worth acknowledging that while Las Cabañuelas may not offer the same precision as modern weather forecasting, it often succeeds in capturing certain trends and general patterns. This folk wisdom has a role to play in underscoring the complexity of meteorology and the fact that nature’s intricacies are not always fully captured by scientific equations.

Preserving a Rich Tradition

As the world continues to evolve, traditional practices like Las Cabañuelas face the risk of fading into obscurity. However, there’s a growing movement to preserve and celebrate these practices as valuable cultural heritage. Efforts are being made to document the observations and interpretations of various communities and to integrate them into larger conversations about climate change and sustainable living.

Jorge Rey and his Important Accurate Prediction

Jorge Rey, a resident of the Burgos town of Monasterio de Rodilla, has become a prominent figure in the world of rural weather prediction. His prediction of the massive snowfall that blanketed much of the Iberian Peninsula during Filomena is particularly noteworthy. The sight of Madrid covered in a layer of white snow captured the world’s attention and highlighted the efficacy of Las Cabañuelas method.

Las Cabañuelas’s method operates on the premise of observing nature during two distinct periods: from August 1 to 13 and from August 13 to 24. These observations are then used to predict the weather for the corresponding periods in the following year’s first and second fortnights.

For Jorge Rey, this method led him to declare the ‘Year of wasps, a year of snow and blizzards.’ This cryptic prediction suggests that a proliferation of insects, particularly wasps, and crickets, during this time might foretell a cold and snowy winter in 2024. While Rey’s insights have garnered attention and admiration, it’s essential to note that Las Cabañuela’s method and the proverbs associated with it lack scientific validation.

José Buitrago ‘el cabañuelo de Mula’

One prominent practitioner of the Cabañuelas method is José Buitrago from Mula in Murcia, affectionately known as ‘el Cabañuelo de Mula.’ He employs this ancient technique to provide insights into the weather patterns of the upcoming summer months, bridging the gap between tradition and modern anticipation.

José Buitrago predicted the weather for the summer of 2023. Drawing upon observations made between 2 and 12 August 2022, he envisaged a summer characterised by heat. Buitrago projected temperatures ranging from 35 to 39 degrees Celsius and foresaw the occurrence of up to three heatwaves with temperatures surpassing 42 degrees.

However, Buitrago’s predictions extended beyond mere temperature forecasts. He also foresaw the potential for storms and heavy rainfall in central and northwest regions, specifically the Vega del Segura area in early summer. In line with his observations, he suggested that hail might grace mountainous and nearby areas, such as Lorca and Cartagena, over the course of the season. And of course, as we now know all of these predictions were accurate.

Buitrago’s predictions for the summer of 2023 offer an intriguing blend of observation and intuition. His anticipation of soaring temperatures has resonated with the reality of the season, showcasing the intersection of ancient wisdom and modern meteorological trends. Moreover, he has forecast the possibility of the potential for a DANA or ‘gota fría’ toward the end of summer or the beginning of Autumn based on the high temperatures this summer and the increase in the water temperatures. Only time will tell if his predictions are yet again correct.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!