By Robin Kile
This is the 10th year for the woolly bear winter weather prediction in Pendleton County.
This tradition began in October 2013 when the North Fork Elementary third-grade class (especially Jesse) began bringing in caterpillars from the playground each day. After they did some research into the folklore of predicting winter weather using “woolly worms,” the teacher and the students decided to try their hand at this.
The class, with the help of their teacher, developed a “secret formula” to use when making their prediction. That first winter, the prediction was for 68 days of snow, and the county “actually” had 67 days. Of course, there may have been more snows than that, as any snow falling from the sky anywhere in Pendleton County counts as a snow day.
Their teacher continued this tradition with other third-grade classes until her retirement, and now because of the prompting of the community, she continues to make the predictions. Friends help gather the woolly bears so their black and brown rings can be counted (woolly bears are unharmed and released back into the wild), and watchers throughout the county keep their eye to the sky and report daily flakes.
Last year’s prediction was for 69 days of snow, and the “actual” count was 64 days.
The 2022-23 prediction is for 71 snowy days. There have already been two days (Oct.18-19), so only 69 more to go.
By the way, if any of Kile’s first woolly bear counters (now seniors in high school) can remember the original formula that was invented, let her know. There is a reward waiting for one!