I remember looking at these Wolly Bears when I was younger. We always said the more black you saw the more snow we would get. Of course as a child I wasn’t thinking about driving too and from work, or how the heck i’ll get to the hospital when this baby finally decides to come. I just knew that they were super cute and they felt funny on my hand. Maybe it’s because of where I live now, but I don’t see a whole lot of these around anymore. It would be a good thing to look at while walking around with the kiddos. Enjoy what nice weather we have left! If this little guy is right, we will be bundled up pretty good this year!
How the Woolly Bear Became “Famous”
- In the fall of 1948, Dr. C. H. Curran, curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, took his wife 40 miles north of the city to Bear Mountain State Park to look at woolly bear caterpillars.
- Dr. Curran collected as many caterpillars as he could in a day, determined the average number of reddish-brown segments, and forecast the coming winter weather through a reporter friend at The New York Herald Tribune.
- Dr. Curran’s experiment, which he continued over the next eight years, attempted to prove scientifically a weather rule of thumb that was as old as the hills around Bear Mountain. The resulting publicity made the woolly bear the most recognizable caterpillar in North America.
Do Woolly Bear Caterpillars Forecast Winter Weather?
According to legend, the wider that middle brown section is (i.e., the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter. But is it true?
- Between 1948 and 1956, Dr. Curran’s average brown-segment counts ranged from 5.3 to 5.6 out of the 13-segment total, meaning that the brown band took up more than a third of the woolly bear’s body. As those relatively high numbers suggested, the corresponding winters were milder than average.
- But Curran was under no scientific illusion: He knew that his data samples were small. Although the experiments popularized and, to some people, legitimized folklore, they were simply an excuse for having fun. Curran, his wife, and their group of friends escaped the city to see the foliage each fall, calling themselves The Original Society of the Friends of the Woolly Bear.
- Thirty years after the last meeting of Curran’s society, the woolly bear brown-segment counts and winter forecasts were resurrected by the nature museum at Bear Mountain State Park. The annual counts have continued, more or less tongue in cheek, since then.
- For the past 10 years, Banner Elk, North Carolina, has held an annual “Woolly Worm Festival” each October, highlighted by a caterpillar race. Retired mayor Charles Von Canon inspects the champion woolly bear and announces his winter forecast. “www.Almanac.com“
My grams used to to have a Farmers Almanac in her bathroom at all times. I wish I had this years edition so I could look and see what it is saying for the weather this year. Love the internet because I was able to look it up and see what it’s saying for this year.
2012–2013 U.S. Weather Highlights
- The 2013 Almanac says that temperatures will be much colder this winter from the East Coast westward to a line from the Dakotas to Texas.
- In every place west of this line, except for portions of the Desert Southwest, temperatures will be warmer than last winter.
- Snowfall will be above normal near the Great Salt Lake and in the areas from El Paso to Detroit to Virginia Beach.
- Snowfall be will below normal in most other locations that have snow.
- Good news: Areas suffering from drought during Summer 2012 should receive enough winter precipitation to bring improvement.
- Spring and summer will be much rainier than normal in Florida, easing its drought.
- Drier-than-normal weather will continue to be the rule in much of Georgia.
- Summer temperatures will be hotter than normal along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the Ohio Valley, but cooler than normal elsewhere.
- Expect fewer tornadoes than in the past couple of years.
- Be ready for hurricanes to threaten first the Gulf and Atlantic coasts in June and then primarily the Southeast, especially Florida, through the remainder of the hurricane season.
To see your region, purchase The 2013 Old Farmer’s Almanac. It offers so much for so little ($5.99, to be exact) . . . for so long (every day of the year!).
As a courtesy, we also offer the current and next month of long-range weather forecasts for free.
2012–2013 Canada Weather Highlights
- The 2013 Almanac says that most parts of Canada should be prepared to chill out: Temperatures will be colder than last winter everywhere except for the northern Maritimes and western British Columbia.
- Snowfall will be below normal in central Canada but above normal in most of the East and West.
- Look for a spring that’s generally a little drier than normal across most of Canada, with average temperatures near normal.
- Summer will be cooler than normal, while fall will bring above-normal temperatures across most of Canada.
- Eastern and central areas will have above-normal rainfall, and western British Columbia will have a rainy fall. Elsewhere, summer and fall precipitation will generally be below normal.
We predict that real winter weather will return to areas from the Great Lakes into the Northeast. Most eastern states – as far south as the Gulf Coast – will see snowier than normal conditions and cooler temperatures.
We are “red flagging” February 12–15 and March 20–23 for major coastal storms along the Atlantic seaboard; storms bringing strong winds and heavy precipitation.
But on the other side of the country, winter will continue its hiatus for another year. The forecast for west of the Continental Divide – the Pacific Northwest, desert Southwest, Pacific Coast – calls for mild temperatures and below-normal precipitation.
For much of the drought-stricken prairie region, an average amount of winter precipitation will bring long awaited relief.
To see your region, purchase The 2013 Old Farmer’s Almanac Canadian Edition.
Looks like the little Woolly bear might be right. What do you think? Do you put much stalk into these old tales? How about the Almanac?