I saw my very first wooly bear today. According to legend, it says a lot about just how much snow the Hudson Valley is going to see this winter.

There has been much written about the folklore surrounding the prognostication of winter weather. Almanacs swear that astrology and sun patterns have magical powers over how much snow certain areas of the country will receive. Others claim that the aches and cramps in their old bodies are sure signs of impending snow.

While these theories are sometimes right, they're also sometimes wrong. However, for generations some Hudson Valley families have been relying on something else to predict winter that they say is foolproof.

A fuzzy little insect, known affectionately as the Woolly Bear, appears in the Hudson Valley around this time every year. This little creature is said to hold some mystical powers, including the ability to predict the weather.

According to the National Weather Service, many people believe that the insect can predict local weather. Wherever it's found, the wooly bear's coloring is believed to tell a lot about how much snow and cold weather is coming in that specific part of the country.

The amount of black on the woolly bear in autumn varies proportionately with the severity of the coming winter in the locality where the caterpillar is found.  The longer the woolly bear's black bands, the longer, colder, snowier, and more severe the winter will be.  Similarly, the wider the middle brown band is associated with a milder upcoming winter.

If this is to be believed, the very first woolly bear that has been spotted in my area of Poughkeepsie is predicting an average winter.

A. Boris

This little guy has an average amount of black and brown fur, which means that we're supposed to get an average amount of winter weather. Additionally, the back end of the woolly bear appears to have less black than the front, which means we may see a bit colder weather at the beginning of the season, but as winter ends things will become milder.

Some meteorologists are predicting a rough winter this year, but I'm going to go with this little guy. I guess only time will tell which one is right.

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