We can now accurately predict the harshness for Northern Virginia’s upcoming winter. Based on the purely scientific method of Woolly Bear analysis, we have a prediction for winter 2009. The ratio of black to brown bands on the Woolly Bear can foretell the harshness of the upcoming winter. More black the harsher the winter; more brown predicts a gentler winter.

How does the Woolly Bear accomplish this task? When the caterpillars grow during a wetter fall, the black bands will be larger then the brown one. A wetter fall sets a trend toward a wetter and milder winter.

Woolly Bear with smaller black bands, Fall 2008

I found this Woolly Bear in Sky Meadow’s State Park. The smaller black bands on his body predict we will have a mild winter. Don’t worry about buying a new snow shovel this year; the Woolly Bear has spoken.