Appalachian professor says groundhog’s prediction wrong for Boone

Joshua Farmer

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this past Saturday when he made his public appearance in Punxsutawney, Penn., which indicates an early spring.

Overcast weather preventing the groundhog from seeing its shadow during this day is interpreted as a sign of an early spring, while a sunny day that allows a shadow to be cast foretells six more weeks of winter.

But the groundhog’s 2013 prediction is probably inaccurate, said Baker Perry, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Planning.

“The latest forecast models suggest that colder conditions will return next week and persist into the latter half of February,” Perry said. “Another storm system will likely impact Boone early next week followed by a cold front.”

Perry said some of Boone’s biggest snowstorms have come during late winter and early spring.

“For instance, 1960 saw record snowfall from mid February to late March, during which Boone received 84 inches of snow,” he said. “In 1987, Boone received 17 inches of snow as late as the first week of April.”

Appalachian students said they are both excited and discouraged by the prospect of an early spring.

Senior English major Brandon Laberteaux is hoping for more snow to prolong the skiing and snowboarding season.

But senior interior design major Chelsea Ashworth said she would prefer an earlier spring this year for the sake of safer traveling in Boone – both on foot and on the road.

The Boone snowfall accumulation is at 22 inches so far this season, according to raysweather.com, with forecasts of storm clouds and cold winds for the upcoming week.

Punxsutawney has been celebrating Groundhog’s Day for 127 years, despite the 39 percent accuracy rating of the groundhog’s predictions, according to a study by StormFax.

Inspired by the traditions of ancestral German and Celtic settlers in Pennsylvania, Groundhog’s Day takes place on an astronomically unique day equidistant from the winter solstice and the spring equinox—the precise middle of the winter season.

Story: NOLEN NYCHAY, Intern News Reporter