Friday, February 3, 2012

Weather forecasters

Last fall, the forecasters on the television news  predicted this would be our worst winter in fifty years. Instead, it has turned out to be the second mildest winter on record. So much for all that schoolin'! Humans seem to be no more accurate in predicting the weather than the groundhogs who, on Groundhog Day each year, are supposed to tell us whether spring is just around the corner.

Groundhog Day, for international readers not familiar with it, is 'celebrated' (more in some communities than in others!) on February 2nd. Legend has it that if the little furry beasty sees his (or her?) shadow when emerging from the hole in the ground, there will be six more weeks of winter; if not, there will be an early spring.

I've never quite understand the reasoning - I suppose it is because clear sunny days in winter are generally colder than cloudy ones in many parts of Canada and the US. But here on the wet coast, much of winter is cloudy, and clear sunny days often herald spring. Of course, we don't have groundhogs on the island, as far as I know, so maybe groundhog predictions don't hold true for us. (If you want to find out what the groundhogs in your area predict, check out this chart on Wikipedia.)

According to Wikipedia, groundhog proponents claim the critters have an accuracy rate of 75% to 90%, but
...a Canadian study for 13 cities in the past 30 to 40 years puts the success rate level at 37%....[and] the National Climatic Data Center reportedly has stated that the overall prediction accuracy rate is around 39%. (
Seems like that 37-39% puts them in about the same league as television weather forecasters.

I prefer to look for signs of spring by keeping an eye on the plants in my area. So yesterday, Groundhog Day, I took the camera on my walk and found this:

And even in my own patio garden, which doesn't get the benefit of much sun this time of year,  greenery abounds:
The chives are popping up
and the blueberry shrub is budding
The parsley, which was green all winter, is showing fresh new growth
And the daisies, which also never died back, have spring green leaves appearing.

And the wildlife, too, know spring is in the air. From the heron, whose plumage is becoming more showy,

To the ducks who are pairing up, two by two,

Our clear blue skies predict a shadow is nothing for a groundhog to be afraid of.

And my little fostergroundhog, Petey, says spring is definitely in the air:

Petey:  Ah can't see my shadow - that means an early spring!
Me:  Petey, you're blind.  Of course you can't see your shadow - you can't see anything!
But I'll accept your prediction of an early spring. 
 What signs of spring are there where YOU live?


Sheryl said...

Ahh, but you have marmots. Groundhogs belong to the marmot family (at least as far as I can figure out) so you just need to call it Marmot Day! LOL

georgia little pea said...

Oh Petey! :)

I can't believe your parsley survived winter and mine died over summer. A rose bud even. Definitely good signs of Spring, I would say. Over here, another wet week. I hate La Lina. And weather forecasters.

Funder said...

Um... some grass is coming up, since the ground finally got wet in our one and only winter storm? I love seeing all your beautiful greenery!

Could care less about the actual furry rodent, but I sure love Groundhog Day the Bill Murray movie.