Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By CBS 3 Meteorologist Dave Anderson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

February should be closer to normal than January


February 6, 2020

Another Groundhog Day has come and gone and this year, Punxsutawney Phil predicts a short winter and a rapidly approaching spring. Of course, Phil's accuracy rate is 39%. Coin flips are 50% accurate and one of the famous almanacs has a 52% rating so take that with a grain of salt.

February 2nd has long been an important day to many cultures because it falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Over time, the day became "Candlemas" which marks the presentation of Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem. Early Christians believed that a sunny Candlemas meant another 40 days of winter. Over time, northern Europeans decided the day could only be considered sunny if badgers could see their own shadows. When German immigrants settled Pennsylvania, they brought the custom with them and chose the native groundhog as rodent du jour. Phil became spokes-hog in 1887 as a lark put on by a local newspaper.

Around here, 40 more days of winter would be awfully short. Last winter went five months and the one before that was one week shy of being six months. However, the way January rolled, one might think a quick end to winter is ahead. That month had a departure from normal mean temperature of plus 5.9 degrees.

However, some long range forecasters think it will be about a degree colder than normal around here for February 2020. Snow totals should be near normal. The month's forecast calls for a cold and snowy period from the 1st to the 7th, it should be flurry filled but mild from the the 8th to 15th, it should be normal temperature-wise from the 16th to the 19th and that probably means more snow, too. The rest of the month from the 20th to 29th should be cold and dry.

In our part of the world, getting a groundhog to wake up from hibernation to do a weather forecast is awfully hard. That's why the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth always substitutes a porcupine. And, I hear the folks around Lake Nichols by Canyon use a muskrat which indeed did predict a rapid end to winter this year.


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