By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus
For the past 38 years, a prairie dog in Lander has been predicting the future of winter weather for Wyoming. This year on Tuesday, Feb. 2, she did not see her shadow, which means an early spring in 2022, according to Mayor Monte Richardson.
Had she seen her shadow, Wyoming would have had six more weeks of winter. Let’s see, in six weeks it will be March 15. Now that might be spring in most parts of America but here in Wyoming, that date often signifies our heaviest accumulations of snow. Sub-freezing temperatures can occur throughout the rest of March and even into April.
Famed Lander sculptor Bev Paddleford sculpted a larger-than-life bronze statue of Lander Lil, which stands lookout from her perch on the grounds of the local Post Office. This year, she is wearing a mask, due to the COVID pandemic.
Back in 1984, some Lander folks felt that too much attention was being paid to Punxsutawney Phil, a ground hog, in Pennsylvania. It seemed that the Rocky Mountains needed its own weather sentinel.
Local businesswoman Mary Ann Atwood and local economic developer Alan O’Hashi, came up with Lander Lil. There really was a real Lander Lil who lived in a prairie dog town located on the site of the Post Office, hence the bronze replica that now stands there.
The sun rose but was obscured by clouds on Tuesday, Feb.2, in Lander and there were shadows everywhere.
Despite Lander Lil’s prediction, it is pretty normal for Wyoming to have six more weeks and more of winter weather, says veteran meteorologist Don Day.