We don't need a groundhog, we have a swan

By: James Hopkins Email
By: James Hopkins Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Tuesday unofficially marks the halfway point of winter and all eyes will be on the very famous groundhog to see if there will be six more weeks of winter or if spring is on the way.

According to the U.S. National Climate Data Center, Punxsutawney Phil is right only about 40 percent of the time.

For residents here on the Western Sslope, we have our own bit of weather folklore. It's the legend of the "Swan's Neck" and it seems to be a little more accurate.

"I believe that Groundhog Day is an eastern phenomenon, if we had the tradition we'd have a prairie dog," says Harry Talbott, of Talbott Farms.

Most people agree the groundhog's prediction has no bearing on the weather in Grand Junction. "It's too far away," says resident Shanae Maestas. Resident Jackie Hart agrees, "It's way too far away in my opinion."

But the Grand Valley's Swan's Neck is a local a way of telling residents that the season is changing.

The Swan's Neck is a rock pile on the Mesa, that when is covered with snow, forms the shape of the swan. It's the first point south of Palisade Point and usually can be seen from all around the Valley. When the snow starts to melt away the swan's neck is the first to go.

"The legend is when the swan's neck is gone or broken then it won't freeze the local peaches or the produce," says Talbott.

Like all good tales, the legend has a few variations. "When the swan's neck breaks, then winter's over," says Maestas. "When the swan's neck breaks, "ski" season is over," says Hart. Either way, it means warmer days are on their way.

This legend has a better track record then the Groundhog's 40 percent. "It's probably correct more than half the time," says Talbott. The swan is hard to spot right now, due to the excessive amount of snowfall up on the Mesa. Some local farmers believe the neck won't break until late March.


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