I was asked recently what Woolly Bear Caterpillars are predicting for the winter months. I was surprised, being in weather, that I had never heard the folklore around weather but did a little research to find out what exactly it is. So here is what they say:
The theory is…. The wider the brown band on woolly bears, the milder the winter. A narrow brown band with more black means a more severe winter.
When trying to find information about the little guys and how it actually plays out I found out that unfortunately it does not seem to be very true. Apparently scientists have tried to study in recent years how the bands forecast and what the actually outcome was. From several studies it seems that there has been no correlation to prove the old wise tale.
According to the Ohio State University Extension, "the truth behind the woolly bear's band length actually has more to do with age than with predicting the weather. As the caterpillar prepares to overwinter, the caterpillar molts, becoming less black and more reddish-brown as it ages."
So unfortunately for us there is no way we can use the little bugs to predict what our winter will be.
I can tell you we will see a La Nina for the winter months. Right now we are considered "equal chance" to see below or above average temperatures for the three month period of November, December and January. We are also in equal chance of below or above average for precipitation.
For more information you can head over to our blog where we continue to update the Climate Predictions.
Here is a good site describing the folklore and history.
Till next time! Meteorologist Kristen Connolly