Monday, October 18, 2010

Woolly Worm's forecast: Snowy new year

I don't know if woolly worms gloat, but the winner of last year's Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, Wilbur, did a pretty good job of predicting the winter of 2009-10.

Now we'll see if this year's winner -- a worm with a Charlotte-area connection -- is correct in his/her prediction that the winter of 2010-11 will have a cold and snowy start, a mild middle, and then finish with very cold temperatures.

The 33rd annual Woolly Worm Festival took place Saturday and Sunday in Avery County, and organizers estimate the event drew more than 23,000 people.

The festival features food, games and entertainment, but it's built around the woolly worm, a caterpillar who, according to folk legend, predicts the upcoming winter. That prediction is based on the hue of the creature's rings. Each ring represents a week of winter, and the darker the color, the worse the week.

Last year's winner, Wilbur of Chapel Hill, correctly predicted a cold and snowy winter.

Dr. Ray Russell, an Appalachian State University faculty member who operates the popular Ray's Weather website, says the winter of 2009-10 produced 134.3 inches of snow in Beech Mountain and 83.6 inches in Boone. He says it was the third-worst winter in history in the N.C. mountains.

So what about this year?

The winning worm in Sunday's championship race was owner and "trained" by 5-year-old Cole Peurifoy of Concord, above. I don't have the worm's name, but his rings indicate the Weeks 1-5 and 12-13 will be the worst.

Incidentally, the rings were interpreted this year by Tom Burleson, a 7-foot-2 former basketball standout with North Carolina State University and in the NBA. Burleson has legitimate woolly worm-interpreting credentials. He's from Avery County and still lives there.

The forecast, courtesy of Cole Peurifoy's worm:

Week 1 (Dec. 20-26): Cold with snow.
Weeks 2-4 (Dec. 27-Jan. 16): Extremely cold.
Week 5 (Jan. 17-23): Ice storm.
Weeks 6-11 (Jan. 24-March 7): Average to mild weather.
Weeks 12-13 (March 8-20): Very cold.

Ray Russell's Forecast: Russell doesn't agree with the woolly worm. Disdaining the color of the woolly worm's rings and paying heed to scientific factors such as La Nina and other short-term climate conditions, Russell is predicting the winter of 2010-11 will be mild and less snowy than last year.

His mountain and foothills snowfall predictions -- 75 inches at Beech Mountain; 32 inches in Boone; 11 inches in Asheville; and 7 inches in Hickory.

You can check out his information at


Anonymous said...

I thought Tommy used to be 7'4" ? Maybe he had shrinkage due to washing??

Anonymous said...

He was always about 7-2, Norm Sloan added 2 inches to make him the tallest player in the country in the early 70's.