BANNER ELK, N.C. (WGHP) — The high country can expect the start of winter to be filled with below-average temperatures and snow of more than 3 inches, according to “Porta Potty,” the 2022 Woolly Worm Champion.

Porta Potty beat out two dozen woolly worms this weekend at the 45th annual Woolly Worm Festival. Around 20,000 people flocked to the town to see Porta Potty’s 13 rings of color, coinciding with the 13 weeks of winter.

While the first four rings were black, which means below-average temperatures and snow of more than 3 inches, the middle of the worm was light brown which typically means average winter temperatures. The last couple of rings were light brown, fleck and black leaving readers to believe winter in the high country will end with below-average temperatures and more snow.

Believe it or not, the fuzzy worm is more right than wrong.

“87% accuracy,” said Jason DeWitt with the festival. “We think we are better than any groundhog.”

Before modern forecasting mountain folks would look to the woolly worm as a guide for preparing for the winter. 

“It refers back to the old time when the Banner Elk area was known as the lost province,” said DeWitt. “They didn’t have much access to the outside world and the farmers needed help preparing for the winter.”

Similar regional winter predictions have historically been tied to tales of apple trees producing more than average fruit and bees making hives underground, all signs of a colder-than-normal winter.  

Money raised from the festival goes to the children of Avery County.