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

Winter Weather Predictions 2013-14

Hello fellow readers,

Winter predictions are always a popular topic this time of year. You’ve heard the folklore; the wider the middle brown section of the wooly bear caterpillar the milder the coming winter. The more frenzied the nut collecting of squirrels the harsher the winter. While visiting the Lakota Wolf Preserve in early August, Pam noted their critters were way ahead in developing winter coats indicating a tough winter ahead. The legends go on and on and are fun to anticipate but we look forward to the official opinion of the experts.

Marcia of Columbia turned me onto an authority in our area – the Eastern Pennsylvania Weather Authority (EPAWA) who recently released their 2013/14 Winter Outlook.  They provide detailed technical information based on trends of several indicators using acronyms and lingo that frankly are puzzling to me kind of like today’s business jargon.  “There are some indications that warming in ENSO regions 3.4 and 4 would suggest a weak El Nino may begin to develop sometime in January. This, combined with some other factors (especially a declining QBO) is a grand slam for snow lovers.”  Oh boy, at least I understand the grand slam part.

They did share some easy to understand associations such as there is significantly more snow cover in Canada this time of year as compared to the last two indicating less chance cold air will moderate as it reaches our latitude. Translated, arctic blasts are likely to last longer.  Another variable, the sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic are warmer than usual due to the lack of tropical storm activity which may hold snow events longer on land. Wahoo, it sounds like a grand slam indeed!

Speaking of business jargon mumbo jumbo; while trying to predict this winters’ forecast, I read through the analytics and drilled down to get to the minutia of the winter weather ahead. But at the end of the day, I circled back and reached out to the reliable woolly bear caterpillar.


Wooly Bear Caterpillar What does it mean when the brown section  is on the end AND the middle?   Hummmmm

Wooly Bear Caterpillar
What does it mean when the brown section
is on the end AND the middle?


Garden dilemmas?


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
  1. Lynn Wielenga Reply

    Hi Mary!

    I spied 5 woolies on the road yesterday and wrote a simple poem about the experience…just wondering if I may publish your cool photo (along with my poem) on my blog, with credit and link to you? This looks like an interesting blog…I enjoy gardening too!

    Thank you for a reply 🙂

    • Mary Stone Reply

      Hello Lynn, I just visited your blog and poetry creative one! It would be an honor to be linked to you… so yes, you may use my woolly bear photo with a photo credit and link to me. Mary Stone of Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries: Or, if there is another way you’d like to word or link to me let me know. I’m a bit of a newbie with the blog, but have been writing the column for 3 years for a local newspaper. We seem to share the same desire to share life experiences and learn from one another. So nice to meet you! Mary

  2. Lynn Wielenga Reply

    Thank you, Mary! I posted my “woolly” poem along with your photo and link here:

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