how to split a storm with an axe

How To Split A Storm with an Axe [Arkansas Folklore]

Have you ever heard of “splitting” a storm with an axe?

Well, recently, a friend asked me if I would like to hear the story of “the axe.”

This is what she said:

My dad was taught by his family and he passed it on to me and now on to my sons. If you are in the direct path of a storm, you can take an axe and chop it into a block of wood, making sure the bit is pointed toward the storm, the storm will split!

We just did this Monday night at Cowhide Cove. We had a storm with 40mph winds, hail and 2-3 inches of rain predicted.

Jeff went out and chopped the axe in the wood and all we received was some rain. He had to make sure which direction the storm was coming so it would split and go around us.

We never go camping without our axe and a block of wood.

As I said this has been passed on through generations and has always worked for us! Thought you might like to hear the story of “the axe”.

Splitting a storm with an axe
Splitting a storm with an axe. Photo by Jeff Gray

Of course, this blew my mind.

I have never heard of such a thing and I certainly have never done it!

Now, with that being said, I have heard of witching for water and I have even done it.

Also called “dowsing”, witching for water has been done for millenia.

There is one study, conducted by the German government in the 1990s, that perplexed the scientific community. During this study’s 10-year research period, researchers paired up experienced geologists and dowsers, sending them to dry regions like Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Yemen. Scientists were surprised to find that many of the dowsers were spot-on. In Sri Lanka alone, drill teams drilled 691 wells under the supervision of dowsers and found water 96% of the time.


As far as splitting a storm goes, it’s not as widely known.

My research shows that it’s a practice still performed today by the Wichitas (Oklahoma Native Americans).

The Wichitas hold a ritual in which they throw an axe into the ground, splitting the storm so it goes around the tribe, he said.


Further research also shows that it’s an African-American folk belief that dates back to slavery.

Been a many wind storm come by, cloud up, look bad. I take the axe out there and in 15 or 30 minutes, look like it goes around yonder way.Burgs is one of the few Mississippians who still follows what he calls the signs of the old people.


Splitting a storm with an axe is also part of Texas legends.

The more I look, the more I see this practice popping up in the history of so many regions and people groups.

I ran across another story from a woman who talked of her grandmother splitting a storm with an axe.

Mom said during a terrible storm, she saw grandmother lodge an ax in the ground to split an oncoming tornado.


After talking with a friend, I learned that this is also a practice known in Appalachia (along with many other practices like putting an axe under a bed if someone is in labor).

So, where did using an axe to split a storm originate? I have no idea.

What I do know is that the Encyclopedia Britannica states that the axe originated in the Stone Age about 30,000 BC. So, perhaps Fred Flintstone was splitting storms in the stone age.

A special thanks to Vickie Gray for sharing this story with me.

Speaking of crazy things, do you know how to make a toothbrush from a Black Gum twig?

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