Don’t put away those heavy coats just yet! The Farmers’ Almanac predicts that when America’s favorite furry prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, pops his head out of his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob next Saturday morning, he’ll turn around and head right back in again!
Farmers’ Almanac weather forecasts for the month of February predict fierce periods of cold and snow will continue to grip parts of the country before the sun shows its face again. We think Old Man Winter’s grip will remain tight for the rest of this winter, though that hold will be mostly isolated to the East Coast of the country and the Great Lakes region.
The Farmers’ Almanac is calling for cold temperatures and heavy snow in New England and the Great Lakes region this winter, with colder than normal temperatures for Mid-Atlantic states, and a wet and chilly season in the South. The center of the country should see wild temperature swings and stormy weather, while the western half of the country can expect milder than normal conditions.
Areas to the east of the Rocky Mountains should be colder than normal, with many locations experiencing above-normal precipitation. For the western third of the country, though, conditions are expected to be milder and drier than normal.
Areas from the Great Lakes to the New England should see snowier than normal conditions, and unseasonably chilly temperatures could reach as far south as the Gulf Coast.
In particular, we’re predicting major coastal storms bringing strong winds and heavy precipitation along the Atlantic seaboard from February 12—15 and March 20—23.
An ancient Celtic prophecy foretells that sunny weather on February 2, known in the Middle Ages as “Candlemas,” heralds a long winter. Medieval folk relied on hedgehogs to predict the coming of spring, while early American settlers found the local groundhogs more accessible. America’s oldest Groundhog Day celebration has occurred annually in Punxsutawney, Pa., since 1887, while the Farmers’ Almanac has been continually published since 1818. Since the young upstart Punxsutawney Phil first began prognosticating the weather, he has seen his shadow 96 times. He has foretold an early spring only 14 times in 120 years, the last time in 1999. Members of Phil’s “Inner Circle” claim his predictions are 100 percent accurate, though as recently as two years ago, the groundhog predicted an early end to winter, only for the eastern half of U.S. to get pounded with snow into mid-March.
Unlike the groundhog, the Farmers’ Almanac uses a top-secret mathematical and astronomical formula to make its weather predictions. Instead of relying on his shadow, forecaster Caleb Weatherbee takes sunspot activity, tidal action, position of the planet and many other factors into consideration. Fans of the almanac say its annual weather forecast is accurate between 80 and 85 percent of the time.
Even though he is wrong on occasion, we still respect the groundhog. Anybody can make a mistake and, overall, Phil has a pretty good track record. We think that, this year, he’ll see the light — and his shadow — and agree with us that winter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.