Nature predicting the upcoming winter? - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Nature predicting the upcoming winter?

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- We just started fall last week, but many of us are already looking ahead to what winter may bring.

What if nature gave us warning signs as to how harsh the upcoming winter may be?

Some of these myths have been around for ages, but do they have any merit on what the upcoming winter may bring?

The winter of 2010 brought record snow and bitter cold, while last winter could not have been more different.

When comparing our winters over the past two years, clearly it's night and day. But what if mother nature was giving us signs on how harsh or how mild our upcoming winter may be.

"We can certainly look at the black stripes on a woolly bear and if they're big they say it's going to be a hard Winter, " said DNR Wildlife Specialist Jaime Edwards.

"Those caterpillars that are orange black, orange they say that the longer the black is the longer your winter is. Again, old wives tale, we see them all different lengths in a year," said Quarry Hill Nature Center Naturalist Clarissa Josselyn.

While the woolly bear caterpillar seems to be the most popular thing for people to look for, it appears there is no relationship between that stripe and the severity of winter. But the list goes on.

"If woodpeckers use the same tree that that's a sign of a severe winter, the bands on a racoon's tail, if they are really thick tails, and if the bands are really bright, it's going to be a hard Winter," said Edwards.

As for how much snow will come in any given winter, we turn to the pine tree.

"Pine cones are supposed to grow on a tree to the point where the snow will fall for that year," said Josselyn.

And according to that pine tree at Quarry Hill Nature Center, we'll see 66 inches of snow for the winter. That number not out of the realm of possibility as average snowfall around the area is about 50 inches give or take. As for signs that are currently showing themselves.

"We are seeing a little bit of an early migration of some song birds, but I do think that's a reflection of the drought more than possibly winter coming," said Edwards.

But even with all of these potential clues from Mother Nature, she will always have a mind of her own.

This is something that will always be up for debate and while it does appear likely that most of these don't reliably predict the upcoming winter, it's still a fun conversation maker.

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