Six more weeks of winter!

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:27 PM GMT on February 02, 2010

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Punxsutawney Pennsylvania's famous prognosticating rodent, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow this morning. According to tradition, this means that a solid six more weeks of winter can be expected across the U.S. From the official web site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, groundhog.org:

Here Ye! Here Ye! Here Ye!

On Gobbler's Knob on this fabulous Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2010
Punxsutawney Phil, the Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators,
Awoke to the call of President Bill Cooper
And greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths

After casting a joyful eye toward thousands of his faithful followers,
And a bright sky above me
Showed my shadow beside me.

Six more weeks of winter it will be.


How did this this crazy tradition start?
It all started in Europe, centuries ago, when February 2 was a holiday called Candlemas. On Candlemas, people prayed for mild weather for the remainder of winter. The superstition arose that if a hibernating badger woke up and saw its shadow on Candlemas, there would be six more weeks of severe winter weather. When Europeans settled the New World, they didn't find any badgers. So, they decided to use native groundhogs (aka the woodchuck, land beaver, or whistlepig) as their prognosticating rodent.

What the models say
The latest long-range runs of the ECMWF and GFS models show the jet stream following a typical El Niño winter configuration. A northern branch dipping down over the Northeast U.S. will bring seasonably cold temperatures to the eastern half of the country, with a compensating ridge of high pressure bringing milder temperatures to the Northwest U.S. (and the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada). A second branch of the jet stream will be active across Southern California, Texas, and the Southeast U.S., bringing cooler and rainier weather than average. There are no indications that the jet stream will get "stuck" in a high-amplitude pattern that will bring long-lived record cold to any portion of the country, such as occurred over Florida in early January. At this point, I don't see any reason to disagree with Punxsutawney Phil's fearless forecast of a normal six more weeks of winter.


Figure 1. Departure of winter temperature from average for February. This is a very typical pattern for an El Niño winter. Image credit: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Next post
My next post will be Wednesday, when I plan to talk about the status of this year's El Niño.

Jeff Masters

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Viewing: 310 - 260

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310. Buhdog
2:39 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
new blizzogg
Member Since: July 30, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 960
309. nrtiwlnvragn
2:38 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
New Blog
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 10838
308. OuterBanker
2:36 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Jeff9631. Thanks for the update. We just watched three local channels and no one was willing to take a stab at how much snow we should expect. Thanks.
Member Since: August 8, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 39
307. TampaTom
2:31 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Happy Birthday, Flood!



OK, it's the Rock Band version...
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1050
306. AussieStorm
2:19 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Residents urged to remain cyclone vigilant


The Bureau of Meteorology is urging north-west Western Australian residents to remain prepared as the cyclone season reaches the halfway mark.

The bureau's updated seasonal outlook shows a significant risk of a tropical cyclone hitting the coast between now and April.

Two cyclones have already formed off the Kimberley coast and caused significant damage - Cyclone Laurence in December and Magda last month.

Joe Courtney from the bureau's severe weather section says another cyclone could form by the end of the month.

"Well at the moment the tropics are fairly quiet in terms of cyclone activity and that looks like being the case for the next week or so," he said.

"But as we get towards mid to late February, we'd expect the chances of a cyclone forming to increase and that time onwards we're urging people to be on the lookout for cyclones developing."

- ABC
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15892
305. AussieStorm
2:18 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Drenching closes western roads


Rain over the past week in far west New South Wales has forced the closure of many roads in the unincorporated area.

Dirt roads have become muddy and unsafe around Tibooburra and Wanaaring.

Fenn Miller from the Cameron Corner Store says he has seen 101 millimetres of rain fall at the tri-state border in 36 hours.

Mr Miller says he has been unable to drive a kilometre to check the level of his dam.

"That supplies all our toilets and showers, so I wanted to check it out because we were getting very low but I went down the other day but I got stuck with my quad bike and couldn't get back," he said.

- ABC
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15892
304. AussieStorm
2:17 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Drought stricken regions soak up heavy falls

As the remnant moisture from Ex-Tropical Cyclone Olga makes its journey into New South Wales and South Australia, some areas are picking up their biggest rain in years.

Northwest NSW is welcoming the heavy rain that brought Tibooburra their heaviest falls in three years, picking up 70mm in recent days, already well above their monthly average of 24mm.

This comes as good news as dry conditions have plagued the area with much of the region seeing less than 20% of their average January rainfall.

Unfortunately the heaviest rain had stuck just to that northwest corner so just a little further away Wannaaring only saw five millimetres.

Northeastern South Australia also saw flooding rain with Moomba picking up 75mm in the last 48 hours, which is their biggest rain in 11 years and more than they received in all of 2009. Further south, Arkaroola saw 46mm making it their best rain in four years.

The rain will continue to fall today and will spread further south in the Flinders before this moisture is dragged east. Melrose has had 17mm. Some areas over eastern SA and western NSW could see another 40 to 50mm over the next 24 hours.

- Weatherzone
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15892
303. Orcasystems
2:14 PM GMT on February 03, 2010


AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
301. Orcasystems
2:13 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


IkE some models are showing SNOW for the Florida Panhandle. Also next Friday A low is forecasted to develope very far south in Gulf so you better not hope this moisture moves to far north because you could get hammered. A cold heavy rain for C FL but the things may get interesting in Panhandle. Snowstorm after snowstorm is continuing to shift the back south.


Oh now there I was a little depressed this morning, only one cup of coffee so far.... and poof.. this little Gem to shine up my day :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
299. OuterBanker
2:12 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Still in DC. Haven't been home to the Outer Banks since Halloween. What is the opposite of "island Fever?" Anyway... are we in DC in for another storm beginning around 1300 Friday through Saturday? If so, how much?
Member Since: August 8, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 39
297. GrtLksQuest
2:05 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Happy Birthday Floodman - How does it feel to be as old as LST?
Member Since: November 28, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 220
295. IKE
1:59 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
From JB this morning.

TEXAS BEWARE!!!

The next 3 weeks will be wild in the Lone State State as an active southern stream and enough cold coming south will lead to the the coldest 15-25 day period of the winter starting about Sunday. A couple of these storms will probably stay far enough south to offer the threat of snow all the way to the I-10 corridor of Florida before the winter is over. This is not an outlandish statement, it simply fits with patterns that have done this before. But the hammering Texas should take the next 2-4 weeks should be worse overall as far as the southern areas of the US go as they are in direct line from California storms and colder air that is coming down.


Pretty bold statements from Bastardi.

Interesting...thanks for the info!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
294. weathermanwannabe
1:51 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:
A strong storm system along the Gulf Coast will produce the threat of severe thunderstorms in areas of the Deep South Thursday.


A warm, moist inflow off the Gulf of Mexico, along with a strong disturbance in the area, will create the possibility of high winds and hail with these strong thunderstorms. Flooding will be the major threat from the severe weather throughout areas from southern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.


Good Morning Folks........As of this morning, Tallahassee NWS is saying that the Florida Pandhandle/Big Bend should remain on the "cool" side of the front, given it's low trajectory, so they are not forecasting any severe weather/t-storms for North Florida other than the potential for flooding rains...
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8712
293. PensacolaDoug
1:51 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
From JB this morning.

TEXAS BEWARE!!!

The next 3 weeks will be wild in the Lone State State as an active southern stream and enough cold coming south will lead to the the coldest 15-25 day period of the winter starting about Sunday. A couple of these storms will probably stay far enough south to offer the threat of snow all the way to the I-10 corridor of Florida before the winter is over. This is not an outlandish statement, it simply fits with patterns that have done this before. But the hammering Texas should take the next 2-4 weeks should be worse overall as far as the southern areas of the US go as they are in direct line from California storms and colder air that is coming down.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 549
292. AussieStorm
1:42 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


How long are you supposed to get rain for?

ment to clear up by Wednesday next week.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15892
291. Michfan
1:33 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Looks like another soaker this weekend.
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1665
289. AussieStorm
1:29 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


That's good news because the Australian Drought has been making news even in the US. Hopefully you can pick up a couple of inches.

It's all thanks to the rain depression and associated troughs linked to Ex-TC Olga.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15892
288. PensacolaDoug
1:27 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
What you suggest than? ( I did not saw the movie yet)


I suggest more research. Un-biased if that is possible. I'm not sure it is tho with the current polarized politcal climate we find ourselves in. There is too much doubt about AGW to just buy the argument that our warmer planet is all man-made.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 549
286. AussieStorm
1:25 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting tornadodude:
Aussie, do you have any idea what this means? link

:P


Did you get the answer?
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15892
285. AussieStorm
1:20 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Good Evening all, at the moment it's raining cats and dogs outside no groundhogs to be seen, I don't think it could rain any harder.


Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15892
282. drg0dOwnCountry
1:08 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting PensacolaDoug:


No I didn't see the movie. I watched the trailers tho and it is apparent that the movie is pure left-wing propaganda using scare tactics to advance a political point of view that is based on questionable science. Just my opinion.
What you suggest than? ( I did not saw the movie yet)
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
280. PensacolaDoug
12:55 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
Did you saw the movie?


No I didn't see the movie. I watched the trailers tho and it is apparent that the movie is pure left-wing propaganda using scare tactics to advance a political point of view that is based on questionable science. Just my opinion.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 549
279. IKE
12:45 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
278. IKE
12:37 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
From Mobile,AL. weather office....

"LONG TERM...BY 12Z THU SFC RIDGE OVER THE MID MS RIVER VALLEY
BEGINS TO SHIFT EAST TO THE MID ATLANTIC REGION AS DEVELOPING SFC
LOW NEAR THE TEXAS COAST SHIFTS EAST. TO THE WEST MAIN UPPER TROUGH
OVER THE CENTRAL PLAINS AND SW CONUS BEGINS TO SHIFT EASTWARD
ALLOWING SFC FEATURE OVER THE WESTERN GULF TO TRACK NE TOWARDS THE
CENTRAL GULF COAST. AHEAD OF THIS SYSTEM PWS RANGE FROM 1.5 TO 2.0
INCHES...DEPICTED BY MOST MODEL GUIDANCE...SHIFTING NORTHWARD OVER
MUCH OF THE CWFA BY AROUND 18Z. THIS DEEP LAYERED MOISTURE MOVES
SLOWING EASTWARD ACROSS A BROAD THETA E SURFACE THU AFTERNOON
THROUGH FRI MORNING...COMBINED WITH THE FAVORABLE SIDE OF 125 KT
UPPER JET ELONGATED MOSTLY IN A NORTH TO SOUTH FASHION POSITIONED
MOSTLY OVER COASTAL LA STRETCHING NNE INTO SOUTHERN MS BY AROUND
12Z. FROM THIS PATTERN A BROAD AREA OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS
DEVELOPS TO THE WEST MOVING MOSTLY EASTWARD OVER THE CWFA BETWEEN
06Z AND 12Z FRI...POSSIBLY LEADING TO MORE FLOODING PROBLEMS
BY EARLY FRI MORNING. ALTHOUGH MOST AREAS RECEIVE 2 TO 3 INCHES OF
RAINFALL WITH THIS PATTERN LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS OF RAIN...4 TO 6
INCHES LOCALLY...WILL BE POSSIBLE ESPECIALLY WHERE STORM CELLS TRAIN
ACROSS THE AREA.
AT THIS TIME DUE TO SOME VARYING SOLUTIONS WITH THE
MODEL GUIDANCE THE BEST CHANCE FOR AREAL OR WIDESPREAD FLOODING
STILL LOOKS HARD TO PINPOINT BUT WILL LIKELY OCCUR WHERE ANTECEDENT
SOIL MOISTURE IS HIGHEST...MOSTLY OVER NORTHWEST FL STRETCHING NORTH
INTO PARTS OF SOUTH CENTRAL ALABAMA. AS THIS SYSTEM CONTINUES TO
TRACK EASTWARD GOOD WRAP AROUND MOISTURE IS NOTED ACROSS THE CENTRAL
GULF STATE RESULTING IN MOSTLY CLOUDY SKIES AND PATCHY AREAS OF
LIGHT RAIN THROUGH MOST OF THE DAY ON SAT. FOR SUN THROUGH MID WEEK
STRONG HIGH PRESSURE BUILDS MOSTLY OVER THE MID MS RIVER VALLEY
STRETCHING SOUTH THE CENTRAL GULF COAST COMBINED WITH ANOTHER SFC
LOW MOVING EASTWARD MOSTLY ALONG THE NORTH CENTRAL GULF COAST AND
OFFSHORE....LEADING TO BETTER RAIN CHANCES ALONG THE IMMEDIATE COAST
MON AFT THROUGH MID MORNING TUES. AS FOR TEMPS WILL CONTINUE TO USE
A MIX OF THE MEX GUIDANCE AND MOS GUIDE AND ADJUST FOR CONSISTENCY
WITH SURROUNDING OFFICES. 32/EE"
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
277. drg0dOwnCountry
12:33 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting PensacolaDoug:



Yep. Left wing loonies buying into.....

I'll stop here.
Did you saw the movie?
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
276. PensacolaDoug
12:24 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
Anyone else think there is an influx in "nuts" news?
People doing stupid things?

Btw this movie is intresting in this regards ;)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1300563/



Yep. Left wing loonies buying into.....

I'll stop here.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 549
275. PensacolaDoug
12:20 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting RTLSNK:
38*F and clear skies in Macon Georgia this morning, looks like a good day to fire up the Harley, throw on the winter leathers, and head out to the breakfast bar at Shoney's just as the Sun is coming up over the pine trees. :)



I love the Shoney's breakfast bar. Unfortuneately, they closed the one in my area about 3 years ago. Surprised me cause every time I ever went there it was busy. Go figure.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 549
274. bassis
12:02 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
16 f in Dover NH
Member Since: September 8, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 423
273. RTLSNK
12:00 PM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting PensacolaDoug:



Happy Birthday Flood. I had my 50th in Sept.
If I drank 10 pints of Guiness I'd be "Floodman"!


Gee, I sort of remember my 50th birthday. It was yesterday. 13 years ago. :)

Ditto on the Happy Birthday Floodman!
Member Since: September 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 20482
272. RTLSNK
11:55 AM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
Cool, have a great drive than, i saw your photo and can imagine how much fun this is (my mother use to drive also sometimes a motorbycycle - but not harley).


If it has two wheels, its all good. Have ridden many types in the last 45 years. Did a two week tour of Europe years ago with the Beach Family Motorcycle Tour Group out of Munich. Down through Austria, across the Northern Italian Alps, up into Switzerland, back into Austria, and back to Munich. An incredible motorcycle trip, motorcycle heaven. Rode a BMW 1100 GS provided by the Beach Tour. Would do it again in a heartbeat! :)
Member Since: September 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 20482
271. unf97
11:46 AM GMT on February 03, 2010
Good morning everyone!

45.4 degrees currently at my home north Jax, FL location. Looks like a nice day in store today. Temps seasonable with max expected to be around 60 degrees late today.

Next system will roll through this area late Thursday into Friday with more moderate- heavy rain. The El Nino pattern continues to be locked into place.

BTW, Pensacola Doug, let's keep on dreaming on that GFS scenario LOL... But, you never can rule anything out in reality in a pattern like this one.

Have a great day!
Member Since: September 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1193
270. drg0dOwnCountry
11:39 AM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting RTLSNK:
38*F and clear skies in Macon Georgia this morning, looks like a good day to fire up the Harley, throw on the winter leathers, and head out to the breakfast bar at Shoney's just as the Sun is coming up over the pine trees. :)
Cool, have a great drive than, i saw your photo and can imagine how much fun this is (my mother use to drive also sometimes a motorbycycle - but not harley).
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
269. drg0dOwnCountry
11:29 AM GMT on February 03, 2010
Anyone else think there is an influx in "nuts" news?
People doing stupid things?

Btw this movie is intresting in this regards ;)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1300563/
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
268. RTLSNK
11:27 AM GMT on February 03, 2010
38*F and clear skies in Macon Georgia this morning, looks like a good day to fire up the Harley, throw on the winter leathers, and head out to the breakfast bar at Shoney's just as the Sun is coming up over the pine trees. :)
Member Since: September 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 20482
267. PensacolaDoug
11:19 AM GMT on February 03, 2010
Quoting Floodman:


Now that's a good Irish joke...LOL



Happy Birthday Flood. I had my 50th in Sept.
If I drank 10 pints of Guiness I'd be "Floodman"!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 549
266. PensacolaDoug
11:15 AM GMT on February 03, 2010
G'morn all. The 06Z GFS is trying to give the N cent Gulf Coast another snow storm for next Tuesday I see.
Ah, dare to dream!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 549
265. severstorm
11:13 AM GMT on February 03, 2010

Morning to all. H-bday Floodman. Had .78 inchs from the last rains here in cfl. Have a great day. John
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 956
264. drg0dOwnCountry
11:10 AM GMT on February 03, 2010
The storm sytem which went through the canarien islands (german video with flash floods)
http://www.spiegel.de/video/video-1044219.html
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
262. drg0dOwnCountry
10:39 AM GMT on February 03, 2010
Wow, it's pretty silent - just like before a major storm.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
261. xcool
7:43 AM GMT on February 03, 2010



Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15618
260. drg0dOwnCountry
6:25 AM GMT on February 03, 2010
hought i post this comment from realclimate

Dave Cooke, on Polar amplification:

The broad picture behind high latitude amplification is pretty well established. Note that in transient simulations, by “polar amplification” we really mean “arctic amplification.” The South as a whole doesn’t change as fast as the Arctic, at least not until equilibrium. As other people have noted, the changing ratio of ice to land/ocean surface and corresponding surface albedo decline is a big factor. In fact, in model simulations that look at the variation in climate sensitivity over a broad range of forcing (out to an ice-free world for instance) the surface albedo feedback can be the main driver in reduced sensitivity as global temperature rises, while water vapor feedback tends to become stronger.

The way the ice-albedo feedback actually works is not generally well described in secondary sources, which tend to oversimplify the picture to just “less reflected radiation” but a real appreciation for the mechanisms involved comes with understanding the heat fluxes between the atmosphere and ocean on multiple timescales. For instance, Arctic amplification is especially prominent in the cold-season, when there is not much incident solar radiation to speak of. In the summer when there is relatively much more solar radiation, much of the energy goes into melting or evaporation rather than surface temperature amplification. So this shows that the picture is a bit more complicated than just “less reflected sunlight.” As Miller et al. (2007) note:

//”The amplification of high-latitude climate change results from complex positive feedbacks involving exchanges of energy and water mass between the ocean, sea ice, and atmosphere. The positive feedback related to changes in sea-ice albedo is one of the most frequently mentioned, however there are other positive feedbacks that are also important. Among these are feedbacks related to water vapor and clouds. Chen et al. [2003, 2006] demonstrated the importance of correctly representing in climate models the relationships among Arctic cloud and radiative properties. The present paper examines how some of these relationships and feedbacks may change in simulations of future climate.”//

Graversen et al. (discussed at RC some time ago) also brought up the issue of poleward heat transport which is relevant as well. In general though, arctic amplification is one of the most robust features of a warmer climate as we progress into the 21st century. By the way, I’m not entirely sure I agree with BPL’s statement, “There is less water vapor in colder air, so CO2 is proportionally more important the closer you get to the poles” as a reason for polar amplification.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.