Punxsutawney Phil, perhaps the most famous weather-predicting rodent, saw his shadow this year, indicating more cold days ahead, although several other famous groundhogs, an aardvark, armadillo and a quahog apparently predict spring could be around the corner.
Pennsylvania’s loveable groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow as he emerged from his burrow on Thursday, meaning six more weeks of winter are ahead, according to a tradition in the central Pennsylvania town that dates back to 1887.
At the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, however, Leia the aardvark—a more recent alternative to the Groundhog Day tradition, following several years of forecasting by the zoo’s Parish the nutria—poked her nose in a termite mound labeled “spring.”
Just north of Austin, Texas, Bee Cave Bob the armadillo was released on a cloudy day, meaning there is no shadow to cast, and that spring is coming—although Texas is currently in the midst of an unseasonably cold front, with more than 400,000 homes and businesses in the state without power.
Members of the Nantucket Natural Resources Department in Massachusetts shucked Quentin the quahog, which squirted to the right, indicating spring is around the corner (the quahog was promptly eaten raw).
Staten Island Chuck also disagreed with Punxsutawney Phil when New York City’s groundhog failed to see its shadow Thursday morning, making it eight straight years Chuck has predicted an early spring.
Wiarton Willie, Ontario’s groundhog, did not see its shadow either, indicating warm days ahead.
Joe Minella, a hatchery technician with the Nantucket Natural Resources Department told Forbes he believes Quentin the quahog’s prediction could be correct, as the island off the coast of Cape Cod experiences a mild winter, although a bitter cold front is expected to arrive this weekend. According to local legend, Minella said, if the quahog’s shell breaks while it’s shucked, a storm is coming, “so maybe Quentin was able to predict that, too.”
Fred la marmotte, another weather-predicting rodent in Quebec, died abruptly on Thursday, local officials announced in an event marking the groundhog’s weather prediction—leaving officials stunned and leaving the question of whether winter will last yet to be determined.
According to at least one statistic, Leia, Bob, Quentin, Chuck and Willie may be onto something. Their predictions come as cities in the mid-Atlantic face a historic “snow drought,” with Washington D.C. and Baltimore still waiting for the first measurable snowfall of the year. New York City, meanwhile, recorded its first measurable snow (more than 0.1 inches) this week, breaking a record for the latest day in the winter before the city received snow. Philadelphia received 0.3 inches of snow this week, breaking its drought.
While cities on the East Coast experience a warmer and rainier winter than usual, California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains have recorded record snowfall so far this season. The layer of snow, called snowpack, in the mountains is more than 200% higher than normal, the Los Angeles Times reported. States in the Northeast, meanwhile, are expected to face a “once-in-a-decade” cold front, with 15 million people under wind chill watches and warnings starting Thursday, although no snow is expected.
Mid-Atlantic Faces Historic ‘Snow Drought’ As New York And Philadelphia Still Wait For First Measurable Snow (Forbes)
NYC May Break Snow Drought As Northeast Prepares For Dangerous Cold Blast (Forbes)
500,000 Without Power As Southern Ice Storm Continues—Northeast Prepares For ‘One-In-A-Decade’ Temperatures (Forbes)