Here is what to know about Groundhog Day

The ever famous groundhog on his big day!

I love Groundhog Day! I know it’s silly to some, but we do know that the groundhog really exists (unlike some of our favorites). Like any good forecaster, Punxsutawney Phil takes great pride in telling us what the future will bring. In case you forgot, if Phil sees his shadow then obviously it’s a sunny, clear day and we get six more weeks of winter. If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, look for an early spring.

What you might not know is this all started around the Christian holiday, Candlemas, which is Feb. 2. They even had a saying regarding the weather and Candlemas:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,

Come, Winter, have another flight;

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

Go Winter, and come not again.

This poem became the norm in Europe. The Germans worked a hedgehog into it for forecasting. The Americans went with a groundhog, and since 1886 that groundhog has been Punxsutawney Phil! He never dies, by the way, and you can read all about him at his website right here.

Will Phil see his shadow?

Not likely. You’ve probably already heard about the nor’easter dumping tons of snow on the New England area. Tomorrow morning, that system will be hanging around and Pennsylvania will be cloudy and snowy:

I've put a red dot where Punxsutawney is and they'll have clouds and snow tomorrow

No shadow seen means an early spring. The eastern U.S. could use one as they are getting blasted by winter now and will see freezing temperatures spilling in from Canada this weekend. Here’s the American Model.

American Model Temperature Forecast

What does that mean for us?

We’re a little early in the game for this one, but the models have continued to shunt the really cold air next week, for now, off to the east, thanks to the location of that big high pressure to our northeast:

Canadian COLD air spills in to the eastern US

Here is a still picture of the model forecast for next Monday morning showing a low of 31° to the northeast of Houston, but freezing all the way down to Northern Florida. In town, we’re forecasting 33° so a light freeze in outlying areas is certainly likely. Look at those numbing numbers in the East!

The super cold air shunts East

Regardless of whether Phil’s forecast proves true or snuffs out like a Candlemas candle, the spirit of the day is frivolous fun. I hope you find a way to enjoy it and I hope Phil is right! I like early spring!

Whether Phil is right or not, the next season is spring and it's not that far away!


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.