This coming Sunday, February 2, is Groundhog Day, a day when groups of people across North America pluck unsuspecting woodchucks from their burrows in the hopes of finding out whether or not winter will end early.
Groundhog Day has its roots in Candlemas, also known as Imbolc, the midpoint on the calendar between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. An old bit of weather lore says that sunny skies on this day foretell a long winter, while grey skies indicate that spring is on the way, as illustrated by this old English song:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.
And so the tradition of the groundhog seeing his shadow was born. Of course, with the glare of hundreds of cameras trained on him, it would be a miracle if Punxsutawney Phil – or any of North America’s other prognosticating groundhogs – didn’t see his shadow.
But forget Phil. Anyone who consulted the 2014 Farmers’ Almanac has known since August whether winter would end early. And the answer is no. Winter isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
We predict significant snowfalls for parts of every area except, unfortunately, for the drought-ridden West Coast.
Over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, in particular, we are “red-flagging” the first ten days of February for heavy winter weather.
This year, Groundhog Day coincides with Super Bowl Sunday. MetLife Stadium in New Jersey’s Meadowlands is hosting Super Bowl XLVIII, marking the first time a Super Bowl will be played outdoors in a cold weather state. We are forecasting stormy weather for this major sporting event.
According to the groundhog day legend, a Super Bowl storm should mean an early end to winter, but we expect the following week in particular to remain especially volatile and turbulent. We also foresee other heavy snowfalls throughout the rest of the month.
And we expect mid-March to bring a wave of storminess stretching almost from coast to coast, bringing a wide variety of precipitation types as well as strong and gusty winds.
Though the Spring Equinox will arrive on March 20th, winter weather may hang on for just a bit longer this year, making for a late start to spring.
For more detailed predictions for your region, be sure to check out our long-range forecast!