February 02, 2012

GroundFrog versus GroundHog

As an atmospheric scientist, my role is to interpret a wide range of information...even unconventional information...to provide new insights into meteorological phenomenon.  I will do so here.   During the last week, two animal prognosticators have provided a vision of the weather future that are seemingly at odds, but really aren't.

The Snohomish GroundFrog reveals his secrets
On one hand there is the well-known frogprognosticator of Snohomish, Washington--otherwise known as the GroundFrog.   At a solemn ceremony on Saturday, the wise frog predicted good weather for the remainder of the winter for the Northwest--a prediction that is consistent with the latest two-week forecast of the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center for the western U.S. shown below.  Red indicates temperatures above normal.  No snow worries here.

On the other hand, Punxsutawney Phil, the well-known groundhog of Gobbler's Knob, PA, saw his shadow today, which implies 6 more weeks of winter.

Let me assure you that these forecasts are not inconsistent, considered their locations.  An atmospheric upper level pattern with a ridge over the West Coast and a trough over the eastern U.S. is consistent with their predictions and is quite reasonable.  In fact, here is the latest 15 day forecast at 500 hPa from the NWS GFS model that is showing such a feature--ridge over the west, trough over the east.

 Clearly, the innate wisdom of animals has something to teach us.


  1. But...what is the frognostication for spring? Let's hope we don't have a repeat of last year.

  2. I've already assured my softball league that we'd have NO RAINOUTS this spring & summer (unlike the last 2 years), so I hope our friendly neighborhood frognosticator can tell us something about that—and make me look good to the league.

  3. Our two eight year old Nordic dogs started shedding their fur on 1/12/10 and 1/18/11 the past two years. They have yet to shed any tuffs of fur this year. Hmmmmm.

  4. My yellow lab has been shedding heavily the past several weeks.

    Of course, she somehow managed to shed heavily year round - so I guess that's not much of an indicator. :-D

  5. I did not know that Hypnotoad lived in Snohomish. All Hail Hypnotoad!

  6. Hi, Cliff. What's happening with the warm temps at Mt Baker (50 and calm), 47 at Hurricane ridge, even up to Whistler (37 from top to bottom) yet it's 24 and windy here at Crystal? No complaining; we can see the entire Cascade range; gorgeous.

  7. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cailleach#Legends, comes this alternative explanation of why the weather on the cross-quarter day determines the length of the winter:

    "Là Fhèill Brìghde is also the day the Cailleach gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on February 1 is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood to keep herself warm in the coming months.[3] As a result, people are generally relieved if February 1 is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep, will soon run out of firewood, and therefore winter is almost over."

  8. I started keeping a spreadsheet of weather (in my Fairwood neighborhood) in Aug '05. I just scrolled through the "years", and in 5 of the past 6 years, it snowed in Mar and/or Apr. The only non-snow winter/spring was 2007.


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