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Tortoise predicts snowy winter ahead

Tortoise predicts snowy winter ahead

By Mary Richards | Posted - Dec. 20, 2012 at 12:18 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — The weather hasn't been too wintery lately, but prepare for some snowy days in January, February and beyond. How do we know? Because of a tortoise in the Millcreek area.

E.T. is kind of mellow these days, chilling in her hibernation box. The desert tortoise is 69 years old and she knows what's coming this winter.

She's normally done eating in September to prepare for her six month hibernation. This year, she ate until mid-October.

"She kept eating kale, mustard greens, parsley, carrots -- so I knew something was different," said her owner, Tosh Kano.

Kano said those are super foods. E.T. was storing up fat for a longer winter.

"January, February, we are going to have a real good snow accumulation," said Kano.

Kano said it's all about the signs. The acorns are bigger this year, and there are more of them. There were more 100 degree days over the summer. Before our mild winter last year, there was one 100-degree day, and fewer acorns. And E.T. ate very little before her hibernation, ending in August, and only wanted bean sprouts.

January, February, we are going to have a real good snow accumulation.

–Tosh Kano

Before the winter of '93, she ate and ate until the end of October. Kano was the public works director for Salt Lake County then, and based on E.T. and the other signs, he ordered extra road salt.

"My staff thought I was crazy!" he said.

But it paid off big time, with days and days of storms in January and February. Other jurisdictions ran out of salt and were able to borrow from Kano.

Kano said after that, KSL Meteorologist Mark Eubank used to call him to check on her.

"He used to say, how's E.T. doing? She's a very good predictor of what winter we'll have," he said.

"We are so sophisticated these days with radar and computer projections, and we don't know the signs," Kano said.

So consider yourself warned about the coming months! And get the shorter-term KSL forecast here.


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