Smyth County

Mammoth weather prediction rings true

Mammoth weather prediction rings true

SALTVILLE, Va. - With the recent winter weather in the first weeks of spring, its hard to find someone with a kind word for the famous groundhog who predicted an early spring.

But there's a local prognosticator who's got a great track record. This forecaster dates back to the ice age and seems to be right every time.

The Great Saltville Valley has a history that predates history itself. At one time, great creatures roamed the valley floor. "It's an unbelievable history through all periods of time going all the way back to the end of the last ice age and the extinction of some of the species that were living at that time, including the mammoth and mastodon," says Harry Haynes, director of the Museum of the Middle Appalachians.

So it made perfect sense for the woolly mammoth to become the mascot of the Museum of the Middle Appalachians and help with fundraising and education. "The water that had been frozen up in the glaciers had melted and caused the ocean levels to rise. The seasonal weather that we now have, winter, spring, summer, fall, that's when that weather developed," Haynes said.

And what better prognosticator for upcoming weather than the woolly mammoth? It seems it has a better accuracy than Punxatawney Phil, the well-known groundhog from Pennsylvania.

"Woolly has a 100 percent success rate with predicting weather. You're going to have an early spring or not or whether you'll have six more weeks of winter," Haynes bragged.

There's no victory dance for Woolly the Mammoth on this blustery spring day, but just a sense of relying on generations of instinct. "Woolly has at least 10,000 years of weather experience behind her and she's very tuned to the weather," said Haynes. "Woolly owes her survival to being tuned to the weather and she's not going to divulge her secret."

Secret or not, facts are facts. Who's right and who's wrong, but this year she was right on the money.

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