Folklore vs. Meteorology: What winter weather signs do people look for in nature?
A lot of science goes in to modern day winter prediction, but there are also some tell-tale signs from Mother Nature herself - right under our feet.
I met up with outdoor guru, Bob Carey to discuss the prognostication of the Woolly Worm.
"So Tom, these guys are giving you some competition, because long before you were on the scene, they were predicting the weather for the winter!" said Carey, "And the lore is that the more dark there is in the Wooly Worm, the more severe the winter is going to be."
As we looked at a couple specimens crawling about, it appeared as though most of the Woolly Worms were "predicting" a pretty tough winter. However, one worm looked rather bright compared to the others.
Carey said, "So the outlier here, actually helps us know a little bit more about the science of their color. The color of the Wooly Worm that we see now is more of a reflection of the past season, than it is of the winter to come."
That means that this folklore would actually be telling us about last winter.
"When they emerge they will become the fabulous Isabella Tiger Moth, so you've never seen an Isabella Tiger Moth, but it sounds like a Pokemon, correct?" said Carey, "Now what's interesting is when I was picking these guys up, folks were actually driving around them to make sure they didn't run over them. How many caterpillars do you know that folks will actually go out of their way to avoid running over?"
When it comes to any other predictions of winter weather we can find in nature, Carey had a few thoughts on that as well.
"Well, in this part of the world, one of the things that folks look at to prognosticate a bad winter is the thickness of the shells on acorns," said Carey, "So, you know, before folks had meteorology they had indications from nature that winter was going to be tough, or not so bad, and because of the ubiquity of acorns, it was an easy thing to assess from year to year. They noticed that on years that the acorn husk was thicker, it usually was associated with a colder winter."
That means a thicker shell meant a colder winter, and a thinner shell was a milder winter.
Carey said, "So, once again, the indications here are if we solely rely on this, then we're going to have a tough winter."
Time will tell if the Wooly Worms and acorns are right about what we can expect this winter season.