CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Spring wildflowers are on track for a timely blossom in West Virginia, according to staff at state and national parks. Unseasonable temperatures in recent years had thrown cycles off, but barring exceptional weather, 2014 should be normal. It could even be very good, thanks to ideal precipitation.
"I think this could be a very good year," Dale Nisbet, a national-resource specialist at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, predicted.
Nisbet said Tuesday he expected the season to be on track and possibly exceptional. "There's so much moisture in the ground." Increased moisture fed by a winter of adequate rain and snow should help wildflowers look their best, he said.
Conditions in southern West Virginia also appear to be optimal, according to Richard Altare, a ranger for the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. "Unless we see a hard cold, everything should be on track," said Altare said, who annually guides wildflower-observation programs in the national parklands there.
Bloom times can, however, vary greatly, according to elevation and longitude. Diane Holbrook reminds visitors to Tomlinson Run State Park that signs of spring can be more than week behind in the northern panhandle of West Virginia.
Only an hour's drive from Lake Erie, Tomlinson Run, the northermost state park in the Mountain State, is far enough north to lag behind other park areas. "Even between here and Weirton we're as much as a week behind," she said, adding that winter will soon pass. "The robins came back to the park this week, so we know spring is on the way."