Groundhog sees his shadow--six more weeks of winter?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:24 PM GMT on February 02, 2008

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,

Here Ye! Here Ye! Here Ye!

On Gobbler's Knob on this fabulous Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2008
Punxsutawney Phil, the Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators,
Rose to the call of President Bill Cooper and greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths.

After casting a weathered eye toward thousands of his faithful followers,
Phil consulted with President Cooper and directed him to the appropriate scroll, which proclaimed:

"As I look around me, a bright sky I see, and a shadow beside me.
Six more weeks of winter it will be!"

I'm hesitant to disagree with a forecaster of Phil's stature, but I see only about of week of hard-core winter left over the U.S. The 16-day run of the GFS model shows the jet stream retreating to a position in southern Canada in about a week, which will usher in mild temperatures for this time of year across most of the U.S. The latest 1-month outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center shows an above normal chance of warmer than average temperatures across a large portion of the U.S. for February.

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, instead of building wooden badgers, they decided to use native groundhogs (aka the woodchuck, land beaver, or whistlepig) as their prognosticating rodent.

The Groundhog Oscillation: convincing evidence of climate change
According to a 2001 article published in the prestigious Annals of Improbable Research titled, "The Groundhog Oscillation: Evidence of Global Change", Punxsutawney Phil's forecasts have shown a high variability since 1980. This pattern, part of the larger "Groundhog Oscillation" or GO cycle, is convincing evidence of human-caused climate change.

Jeff Masters

Albino Groundhog (pincollector1)
Canada's famous albino groundhog named Wiarton Willy from the town of Wiarton, Ontario. Whether or not he sees his shadow or not will determine an early Spring.
Albino Groundhog

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76. thunder01
8:18 PM GMT on February 04, 2008
Excellent point, MichaelSTL.
The current La Nina is still quite strong (certainly the strongest we've seen in years). It is also notable for the odd distrbution of SST anomalies, especially over the western half of the Pacific. That 1988 vs. 2008 map is very telling--the range of strong negative anomalies is actually quite staggering when one sees them over the entire basin. Because, as you mentioned, cold ENSO events (La Ninas) store heat in the deeper reaches of the ocean, the upswing of the thermodynamic pendulum has the potential to be extremely impressive (imagine those negative SST anomalies translating into positive anomalies of a similar magnitude over a similar area. Wow.) If we do get an El Nino of that magnitude, well, let's just say that it would be an interesting 18 months to come...

I'll have a new seasonal forecast up on Weather West at some point in the next 2 weeks, and it'll consider the influence of the ongoing La Nina regime...
73. listenerVT
5:59 PM GMT on February 04, 2008
VERMONT: The New Connecticut

We would truly miss the sugar maples.
And with the level of unexplained bat deaths this year,
the mosquito population would explode.


I want my sub-zeros back!!
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72. listenerVT
5:57 PM GMT on February 04, 2008

Yeah, that is a rather, er, playful term, isn't it? LOL!
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71. listenerVT
5:56 PM GMT on February 04, 2008
{ { { Hope you're feeling better soon Storm! } } }

Take care. ♥
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70. mobal
5:18 PM GMT on February 04, 2008
Groundhog Oscillation, LMBO!!
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68. listenerVT
4:43 PM GMT on February 04, 2008

Do you have a celebration and call it Marmot Day?
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67. listenerVT
4:39 PM GMT on February 04, 2008
Thanks, Dr. Masters.

Usually I say,
If the groundhog sees his shadow we'll have six more weeks of winter
if not, it's just another month and a half. Ha!

But ONE more week? That would be unprecedented here in Vermont.

Candlemas is not only a holiday that was observed in England,
it is still observed by several denominations today.
It was when a lot of people made their last batch of candles for the winter.
So they needed some idea of how hard to work that day! Ha!
I still hand-dip candles each year on Candlemas.
(A tradition we started while studying the American Revolution, home schooling.)
They make great Valentines or Easter gifts.

One more week? Can't wrap my mind around that. Nosirree.
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66. listenerVT
4:34 PM GMT on February 04, 2008
Puerto Rico had a 5.0 quake this morning!

How are all our peeps down there?
(Sorry...the "Link" button is not functioning for me today. It's worth a cut and paste.)
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65. magnitude9
4:31 PM GMT on February 04, 2008
Out here in Washington we call them Marmots.
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64. biff4ugo
3:50 PM GMT on February 04, 2008
I think we need a more indepth Groundhog Oscilation report on April 1st.

Hope everybody had a great weekend.
Member Since: December 28, 2006 Posts: 119 Comments: 1638
60. Inyo
6:03 AM GMT on February 04, 2008
It has been a La Nina but indeed January was wet for most of California including LA.

Feb. isn't looking quite as wet but we'll see!
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 932
58. CybrTeddy
3:05 AM GMT on February 04, 2008
Oh dang, Wilma was horrid, I Mean, every single Hurricane that i have been hit by were eaither near CAT-5 or CAT-5 (Floyd, Isabel, Wilma) Isabel was the scariest, because it was so watch, and it was so scary to see that it was maintaning CAT-5, I was so scared that it might ram into my house with 175 mph winds. Wilma being tied with Isabel, not only the fact that it was the strongest Atlantic hurricane to ever form in the Atlantic, it was like a 3 hour fly to were it was. I was scared that it going to hit us directly, (GFDL said this, oh boy scary)
Floyd bing the fact for no apparent reason, turned from hitting Florida, strait into me. (Yes i know why it turned, but this scared me into beyond scared.)
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 26104
57. Cavin Rawlins
2:12 AM GMT on February 04, 2008
Gene looks alot like wilma appraching s fl.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
56. Cavin Rawlins
12:38 AM GMT on February 04, 2008
Tropical Cyclone Gene.....dry air intrusion broke down the core of the storm earlier but has since then rebuild back the northern (northeast to be specific) "eyewall".

MODIS TERRA high resolution image of the center of Gene at 2208 UTC 3 FEB 2008.

12.5 km resolution quikscat

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
55. HrDelta
12:37 AM GMT on February 04, 2008
For anyone living in the New Orleans Metro I have a question. I heard that the MRGO is going to be dammed up. Is work progressing on this, and if it is, how close to done are they?
Member Since: October 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 512
54. Cavin Rawlins
12:09 AM GMT on February 04, 2008
Strong quake in Africa kills at least 40: officials, hospitals

KIGALI (AFP) - A strong earthquake shook the African Great Lakes region on Sunday, killing at least 34 people in Rwanda and six in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to officials and hospital sources.

Houses crumbled and deep cracks spread up the walls of buildings in the centre of Bukavu in DR Congo, near the epicentre of the quake which measured 6.0 on the open-ended Richter scale.

People ran out of churches packed for Sunday mass as the walls shook.

"According to the figures I have at the moment, 34 people are dead," said Rwandan local government minister Protais Musoni on Sunday afternoon.

The quake struck at 0735 GMT some 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the DR Congo town of Bukavu.

Across the border to the east, Radio Rwanda said 10 people were killed "straight away when a church collapsed" in the Rusizi district of Western Province and 13 others died in Rusizi and Nyamesheke districts.

Local authorities in the DR Congo said six people had died in the Sud-Kivu region, according to UN-sponsored Okapi radio.

Provincial health officer Manou Burole said 55 people had been wounded there.

Several dozen injured were admitted to the city's general hospital and at least 12 casualties to the Panzi hospital, medical sources said.

Radio Rwanda said 250 wounded were transported to various regional hospitals, and a witness in Rusizi district said public buses were used to transport the casualties.

Rwandan minister Musoni said that the provincial governor was on site and that the police and army were helping with rescue operations.

"Rescue operations are continuing to try to pull people out of the ruins of their houses," he said.

In the DR Congo town of Kabare, north of Bukavu, the walls of a church collapsed on the congregation during the mass, injuring 37, including five seriously, priest Leon Shamavu told AFP by telephone.

A first shock, which lasted around 15 seconds, was followed by two lesser aftershocks, residents of DR Congo and Rusizi said.

"People are panicking so much they're afraid to return home. They're afraid of being surprised by aftershocks and prefer to stay outside," a Rusizi resident told AFP.

The quake was also strongly felt in neighbouring Burundi, south of Rwanda, Francois Lukaya, a scientist at the Goma observatory in North Kivu told AFP.

All Burundian hydroelectric dams stopped, causing a half-hour power cut, a water authority official said.

The quake also shook the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, around 120 kilometres south of its epicentre.

"I felt a very strong shock shake my house. The walls shook really hard," a resident told AFP.

It was one of the "biggest earthquakes ever recorded in the Kivu region," Lukaya told AFP.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
53. Tazmanian
11:43 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
52. StormMan
11:15 PM GMT on February 03, 2008

Your last statement about drier than normal south of I80/Tahoe, I thought it has been very wet through out California, LA basin, San Diego, go a little east, AZ, NM...

My overall point of my initial post was to point out there is a lot of coldness going on.

And the question about this being caused by la nina, ok, sure, let's say it is...what caused la nina...? since is a cooling of the equatorial waters of the Pacific...folds into my initial post about the sun being quiet (less output=more cold)

Member Since: August 15, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 61
51. BtnTx
10:54 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
Super Bowl Game weather:


Later I found out roof is closed so weather won't matter...
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50. BtnTx
10:22 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
Bump as per Taz. I think its about an hour before Super Bowl kickoff. What's the forecast?
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49. MacLorry
9:55 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
"The Groundhog Oscillation: convincing evidence of climate change"

Why not? It's about as scientific as the IPCC.
Member Since: March 14, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 25
48. Tazmanian
1:09 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
47. sporteguy03
7:58 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
well we did have a crippling cold snap in Central FL and the coldest in 5 years too!
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5972
46. Starwoman
7:57 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
Can't you guys send some of that snow over?
Here were I live we have defenitely to little (Allthough in the mountains there is plenty). I want to use my new snowshoes.....
Member Since: September 11, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 196
43. NorthxCakalaky
6:05 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
Last Friday Ice Storm recap for North Carolina.

# Schools were either closed or in some cases where I live a 2hour-delay.

#Some mountains got over a half-inch of ice and lost power when the winds picked up.

# Airplane from Atlanta,G.A crashed over the foothills of N.C killing all pasengers.

# I have never seen such "Heavy Freezing rain".Trees fell and blocked some of the roads and banks beside the road were froze and portions of the porch where the water was not runing so fast were froze.Also, the vehicals were froze.

6more weeks to go.
41. hahaguy
5:26 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
ya geek we're the lucky ones lol
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2886
40. HurricaneGeek
9:21 AM GMT on February 03, 2008
hmmm...winter? here, todays like is like 83 lol. LOL

Same area as hahaguy and hurricane23
Member Since: May 10, 2007 Posts: 110 Comments: 7039
39. Tazmanian
4:23 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
what is the forcast for wind shear overe the next few weeks???
38. Cavin Rawlins
4:08 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
surfmom, thanks....
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
37. SBKaren
2:59 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
Well, it sure still feels like winter here today in southern California. Under rainy skies and it has been downright cold this winter so far. I wouldn't mind a bit of moderate temps for a while. Guess we'll just have to wait and see what really happens.
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 201 Comments: 15242
36. Alleyoops
2:56 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
Wiarton Willie says the winter that has ravaged most regions of Canada this year will give way to an early spring.

The country’s most famous weather prognosticating rodent failed to see his shadow when roused from his slumber this morning.

An early spring is also the prediction of Canada’s other famous groundhog, Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam. But Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil disagreed. He saw his shadow when roused from his slumber by his handlers.

Staten Island Chuck is calling for an early spring. He apparently saw no shadow on emerging around 7:30 this morning from a small house at the Staten Island Zoo. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced the creature’s finding.

Guess most of us are in for an early Spring while others will still see nasty weather..Glad its not here....
Member Since: April 18, 2007 Posts: 190 Comments: 29468
35. surfmom
2:56 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
STormW - if your on Good morning and as always great appreciation for your weather updates...I've been quiet, working too many hours, but I ALWAYS LOOK for your forecasts!!!! :)
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34. surfmom
2:54 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
Vry nice synopsis W456 - Love the infor on the Gulf.
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
33. surfmom
2:53 PM GMT on February 03, 2008
Well, i am hoping that Dr.M is correct --I've already had enough cold fronts. Looking forward to surfing without the rubbersuit on. Glad to see the regulars still on & posting. Been swallowed up by work at the Polo Club. Not looking for the hot temps. of summer (the horses in FL suffer so) but living in the 70's would be a pleasure. What I am curious about - is RAIN --do any of you weather "pros" see a wet spring/summer??? Pastures are so dry, grass and hay are very poor and difficult to find.
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
32. Cavin Rawlins
2:10 PM GMT on February 03, 2008


A broad 250 hpa zonal west-southwesterly flow has develop across the Southeast Portion of the Continental United States in associated with an upper trough across the Rockies and an upper ridge over the Caribbean. This flow is advecting a swath of broken to scattered cloudiness and showers from Northern Mexico across the Southern Plains and into the Deep South and Atlantic Corridor. Meanwhile, a weak ridge protrudes across Gulf of Mexico region providing exceptionally fair weather across the Gulf waters and surrounding regions of Mexico, the Yucatan and the Florida Peninsula. The return flow is also providing an onshore flow, which is enhancing the moisture plume outlined earlier.

A broad ridge is analyzed across the Atlantic based on satellite imagery and surface observations through 1330 UTC. The region lies within the downstream area of the upper ridge across the Caribbean providing for a stable troposphere...thereby fair weather dominates. Patches of shallow cloudiness and brief showers is seen within the moist but thin surface layer.


Trades have really increased across the Caribbean due to the merger of the Bermuda and Azores ridge. This is creating an influx of tradewind moisture and chilly air into the Caribbean with linear patches of cloudiness and passing showers moving from the Atlantic, across the Lesser Antilles, through the Caribbean basin and then across the Central American Terrain. The cloud features become more broad and deeper west of 70W indicating more heating and moisture transfer below the cloud bases here.

by W456


Tropical Cyclone Gene - SE Pacific - Infrared Imagery

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
31. StormMan
1:31 PM GMT on February 03, 2008

I appreciate your question..but, most of those links I posted were for weather items that are unique over an extended time period, several are records unbroken for 40-100 years. If just a La Nina vent would not be as notable. Plus, this La Nina vent is not only fairly weak it is practically over if you check the temps on the eastern side of the Pacific.

Or just observe how much precip has been happening in California/Arizona and the deep south...a strong La Nina would have those places mostly dry, right? Over the past several weeks each has received weekly storms.

Or consider that 2007's records in the Southern Hemisphere occurred previous to this most recent La Nina episode (snows in S.America and S.Africa)

A prolonged "near-neutral" period with volatile SST conditions has clearly been replaced by more or less stable La Nina conditions in place since late August 2007.
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30. KoritheMan
9:43 AM GMT on February 03, 2008
StormMan: How do you know most of that stuff isn't from La Niña? I don't know all of the effects it has on land, but I do know that the snow in China may have been influenced by La Niña, which is quite strong at the moment.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 644 Comments: 23116
29. KoritheMan
9:42 AM GMT on February 03, 2008
It may be warm for the next month (based on forecasts and outlooks), but I wouldn't be surprised if we have another major freeze in late March or April, like the last two years (particularly bad last year because it was later and followed a near record warm March, with several billion in crop losses).

I didn't think about that when I posted. Come to think of it, that may actually happen. Talk about freakish cold. Last year's March/April freeze was some of the coldest air I've had to endure, since Louisiana doesn't get cold all that much.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 644 Comments: 23116
27. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
5:22 AM GMT on February 03, 2008
oh man, he saw his shadow.. he should have been where I live. (it was cloudy most of the day) HAHA
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