No big snows, no below-zero temps, local forecaster says

HOPE — When the first Groundhog Day ceremony was conducted in Hope, town officials made it clear Grubby’s accuracy in weather forecasting wasn’t their top concern.

Instead, the annual ceremony that began in 2015 was about honoring American folklore and promoting community camaraderie, organizers said.

Nevertheless, folks in Bartholomew County still want to know what to expect from the weather. One source that may be considerably more reliable than most others is Hope Moravian Church treasurer David Epperson.

Since Epperson has a lineage that goes back to the first settlers of Hope, the 1976 Columbus East High School graduate is well known in the Hope area.

But since the 60-year-old Cummins, Inc. retiree holds a doctorate in atmospheric sciences from North Carolina State University, his periodic predictions that blend both meteorology and climatology are gaining a growing number of Facebook followers in the region.

On Jan. 31, Epperson stated that Bartholomew County residents should expect temperatures that could be near record cold levels a couple of times though March 15. Overall, temperatures are likely to average 1 to 3 degrees below normal for the next six weeks, he wrote.

Earlier this week, Epperson also was predicting one or more snowfalls greater than the 1- to 3-inch range.

“Perhaps we could see at least one snowfall of over 6 inches,” Epperson warned in late January. “We could also possibly see a significant ice accumulation of a quarter to a half-inch.”

But a few days later, updated weather data prompted Epperson to ease up on his predictions. It now appears most of the precipitation through late March likely will be in the form of rain or a wintry mix.

New data indicates most of the snow and frigid temperatures expected earlier is now trending northeast of Bartholomew County, he said.

“No big snows,” Epperson said Friday. “And I’m no longer expecting the temperature to fall again below zero.”

There is one other bright aspect about Epperson’s long-term weather outlook. Columbus area residents should expect a greater than average number of sunny days from now through March 15, he said.

February forecast highs and lows

Highs

February begins with average highs near 39 degrees, which increase to 42 by mid-month, to 49 as March begins, and to 53 by mid-March.

Lows

February begins with average lows near 20 degrees, which increase to 23 by mid-month, to 26 as March begins, and to 31 by mid-March.

Source: David Epperson

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.