Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Winter Folklore & Weather Predictions 2015 / 2016

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Winter Weather Predictions, Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Hello fellow readers,

There are oodles of folklore on winter weather predictions. Plentiful acorns, thick corn husks, squirrels gathering nuts early, crickets in the chimney, halos around the moon, early rodent infestation or bird migration, when pigs eat sticks, and my favorite – narrow rust colored bands on woolly bear caterpillars – are all sure signs of a harsh winter ahead. I heard a new one recently, when Marcia from Columbia buys a new winter hat or fuzzy robe it’s a slam dunk for a snowy winter.

Why is it that so many woolly caterpillars cross the road in the fall asked Jim of Mt. Bethel?  It’s not to get to the other side (sorry jokesters) but in search for overwintering sites under bark or inside cavities of rocks. When spring arrives, woolly bears spin cocoons and transform into the Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia Isabella); not beautiful butterflies more fitting coming from their cute fuzzy larvae stage. In truth, woolly bear caterpillars from the same bunch of eggs can have a wide variation in the size of their colored bands making the folklore iffy.

The Eastern Pennsylvania Weather Authority (EPAWA) released their 2015/16 Winter Outlook for the areas they serve which includes Northern New Jersey. They provide detailed technical information using acronyms, complicated charts and squiggly maps. Thankfully they boil things down in laymen’s terms.

They predict December temperatures will be slightly above normal, precipitation also above normal with the monthly snowfall near to slightly above normal. January temps will likely be below normal and precipitation and snowfall near normal. They predict February temperatures could be well below normal and precipitation and snowfall well above – whoa! March temperatures likely will be slightly below normal with precipitations and snowfall predicted to be slightly above normal. What’s normal anyway?

They go on to explain the active track and battle zones that may set up many times this winter where there will be a tough rain, snow and ice line to deal with making their job forecasting individual storms more difficult. Maybe best to rely on Mr. Woolly Bear.

Did you know since 1973 there is an annual Woolly Bear Festival held every fall in Vermilion, Ohio. It’s much like the Ground Hog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Maybe a good add-on to your bucket list. Garden dilemmas?

Wooly Bear caterpillar, Pyrrharctia Isabella, Garden Dillemas ask Mary Stone, Garden Tips

Wooly Bear caterpillar / Pyrrharctia Isabella

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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