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'Groundhog Day and Weather' presentation discusses origins of weather predictors

February 04, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Beth Repasi demonstrates how high and low pressure effects clouds by using smoke trapped in a plastic bottle. "Groundhog Day and Weather," part of the Saturday Plus series at the Discovery Station in Hagerstown.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

As 9-year-old Madison Michael peered out of a window Saturday at the Discovery Station in Hagerstown, she said she believed Punxsutawney Phil was spot on last week when he predicted six more weeks of winter.

“It’s snowing,” Madison said. “I thought that the groundhog was right.”

Madison and about a dozen other people turned out Saturday afternoon to attend the Discovery Station’s presentation of “Groundhog Day and Weather,” a lecture that discussed the origins of Groundhog Day and other weather predictors.

Presiding over the event was Beth Repasi, an AmeriCorps volunteer with a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from California University of Pennsylvania.

Repasi told the audience that Punxsutawney Phil lives in a heated makeshift log and comes out every year on Feb. 2 to make his prediction. Feb. 2 was chosen because it marks the halfway point between the beginning and end of winter.

Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow nine out of ten times, but his predictions are correct only a third of the time, she said.

Repasi read to the participants from “Groundhog Weather School,” an educational children’s book that taught, among other things, the correlation between cloud formations and weather. The book also mentioned Groundhog Day celebrations in other parts of the country.

Hagerstown resident Erin Glesner said she brought her 10-year-old daughter, Alexis Gross, to the event because they wanted to enjoy a mother-daughter day together.

She said the lecture offered something nice to do on a cold day.

“I think it’s interesting,” Glesner said. “I’ve never been to Discovery Station, but my kids have always wanted to come.”

Glesner said that although the event was geared toward children, it was educational for adults as well.

“I didn’t know Groundhog Day started in Rome and traveled to Germany before it came here,” she said.

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