‘It’s Groundhog Day!’

There’s a scene in Groundhog Day that I’ve always wanted to recreate. In the trailer video above, at the 11 second mark, Bill Murray’s character animates the map by “blowing” the satellite into motion.

Hysterical.

While many make the trip to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney to participate in the annual Groundhog Day tradition, keep in mind that groundhogs don’t actually predict the weather.

No. Seriously.

Some people put a lot of stock into Punxsutawney Phil’s “shadow/no shadow” prediction. But the reality is that there is no predictive “skill” from Phil’s “forecasts”, and the tradition is not an accurate one at all.

Instead, if you want to get a sense of what the rest of the winter season would be like, take a look at the following teleconnections:

There is a lot of atmospheric science involved with analyzing teleconnections, which is where checking the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) comes in handy.

3-month temperature outlook from the CPC.

3-month temperature outlook from the CPC.

3-month precipitation outlook from the CPC.

3-month precipitation outlook from the CPC.

The CPC — which is a division of NOAA — provides weekly to monthly precipitation and temperature outlooks. The CPC takes into account short-term as well as long-range weather forecasts, based off of the teleconnections listed above.

So what does the rest of winter have in store for the Tennessee Valley?

According to the CPC’s three-month outlook, there is roughly a 33 percent chance that temperatures in the Tennessee Valley will run above average for the months of February, March and April. Regarding precipitation — be it in the form of rain as well as snow, freezing rain, sleet, hail, etc — there is a roughly 33 percent chance that the Tennessee Valley will experience below average precipitation for the remaining winter months.

As a reference, the average temperature data is as follows for the Huntsville area:

February

Average high: 56 degrees. Average low: 36 degrees. Average rainfall:  4.84 inches.

March

Average high: 65 degrees. Average low: 42 degrees. Average rainfall: 5.21 inches.

April

Average high: 74 degrees. Average low: 50 degrees. Average rainfall: 4.32 inches.

No matter the weather (or what Phil or his rodent colleagues “say”), I hope you have a happy and safe Groundhog Day!

– Christina Edwards

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