Extreme Temperature Diary-February 2, 2018/ Topic: The Groundhog and Global Warming

Friday February 2nd… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😊. Here is today’s climate change related topic:

The Groundhog and Global Warming

In life sometimes we take ourselves way too seriously, so today with a wink and a nod our subject will be about Groundhog Day knowing that this tradition comes out of folklore and not science. Case in point from what I’ve been seeing on social media:

Seriously? There is a ton of general interest in the Groundhog & our explanatory coverage is all in good fun. Everyone knows it’s folklore.

Yes global warming is a dead serious subject, but we can have a lite fun with our little furry forecaster. Climate Central has come out with some charts indicating that spring is coming earlier referencing the groundhog:
According to Climate Central: “Since 1887, Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting each February 2 whether or not an early spring was ahead. Legend states that when Phil does not see his shadow, an early spring is on the way. Otherwise, there will be six more weeks of winter.  Phil saw his shadow last year, and he has only failed to see his shadow 18 times. This week, we examine the trend in the temperature during the six-week period that follows Groundhog Day — in most places, that period is getting warmer.”

More from Climate Central:

According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, the observance may have its roots in Candlemas Day, which is also on February 2. One old English song proclaims:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

Interestingly, of those 18 times Phil has not seen his shadow, 13 have come since 1970. But no matter what Phil sees on any given year, there is one clear trend — the overall temperature of the planet is going up. The warming that has resulted from the increase in greenhouse gases has led to spring coming earlier across the country.

Earlier spring may sound nice at first, but it comes with an increased risk to agriculture. Fruit trees need a set amount of cold to become dormant over the winter, or they may bloom too early in the year. Thus, an early bloom followed by a quick early season freeze can cause tremendous damage to crops. This was seen last year in the Southeast with a freeze in the middle of March. While March freezes are not climatologically unusual in the Southeast, many crops had bloomed more than three weeks early due to the very warm February. Damage was especially heavy to peaches, blueberries, strawberries and apples, with losses estimated at $1 billion.

Today others have been taking the Groundhog theme and running with it showing the more serious warming trend:

He’s “predicted” 11 early springs since 1980, but only 6 from 1900 to 1980.

Here is one tweet from the warm, dry and dusty Southwest:

Groundhog day is tomorrow.  With the record warmth across the Southwest…maybe we’ll skip Spring and go directly to Summer. 

Here is what the true experts forecast for the U.S. during February…more of the same warmth in te West with the polar vortex ushering in cold air from Canada across the northern tier of states: 
Models are strongly hinting that the dipole will break down after 2/8 such that it will be much warmer east of the Rockies:
Unfortunately the “new drought” for the Southwest will persist:

California, February 2018

My, the “warm team” is going to score a lot of ET points today:
The Climate Guy

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