Winter is coming, but what kind of weather we'll experience depends on who you believe. Most forecasters are predicting a cold and snowy winter, but not the woolly bear caterpillars.
School children in the region collected 274 woolly bears during the fall, which were sent to the Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack. The hairs on the critters were examined, and a different forecast about the upcoming winter was developed. Business Manager Jerry Spessard says the hairs on the caterpillars had very small black bands on the front and rear, and a lot of orange in between. "And that leads me to believe that we're going to have a fairly mild winter because there's such a large amount of the 'orangish' color in the woolly bear," says Spessard.
If there were large black bands on the front and the rear of the hairs, it would mean a cold and snowy winter, according to Spessard.
While there are many predictions about what type of weather we'll experience during the winter, Spessard says the woolly bears' track record has been very good in recent years. "We've kept records on this for the past 30 years. Up until the last couple of years, it's been a 50-50 situation. But the woolly bears have actually--I'm going to say in the past four years--have done very well in predicting the weather," he says.
That prediction from the woolly bear caterpillars is at odds with the winter forecasts in the Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack, which is calling for a cold and snowy season. "I'm putting my faith in the woolly bears this year and not in the Almanack," says Spessard.
The forecasts in the Almanack are developed by weather prognosticator Bill O'Toole of Emmitsburg, who bases his predictions on the time of day that the phases of the moon change.
Accuweather, based in State College, Pa., is forecasting snow before Thanksgiving. It also says a lot of the snowy, and wintry weather will hit the region in late January and early February.