“And now comes the calm mild day, as still such days will come, To call the squirrels and bee from out their winter home.”
~ William Cullen Bryant, American writer & editor of The New York Evening Post, 1794-1878
Phil saw his shadow – now what? This sleepy little groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pa. on Feb. 2 proclaimed in his 126th weather prediction ceremony six more weeks of winter. Does this mean the National Weather Service, The Weather Channel and Dallas Raines are no longer necessary in the field of meteorology? Absolutely not! Groundhogs haven’t made their way to the Crescenta Valley yet. Until they do, we must depend on the scientific world for our weather forecasting. Unless, of course, we can recruit our local California ground squirrels for the job. Just a thought…
This week started out (then quickly changed) on the warm side, with mild Santa Ana winds creating clear blue skies. Where is winter? Aside from the bare trees, indications of spring’s approach are evident. While outside last Saturday giving the yard a much needed soaking, I was entertained by squirrels chattering and racing up and down and across the utility lines and trees. And all the while, sparrows were staking out nesting locations under our eves.
Overseeing all this activity, with an appreciation only a Retriever can fully relish, was Abby. Phil the groundhog on the east coast may say winter, but our local furry weather predictors (the ground squirrels) are saying spring. Hate to be a killjoy, but the calendar has March 20 for the first day of spring.
The reason calendars include Groundhog Day is anyone’s guess. Perhaps for fun, because otherwise it does not make much sense. The sun must be out to make a shadow and would be a sign of spring not more winter! The National Geographic Society studied the groundhog and the prediction. It was found to be accurate only one out of every three times. No matter; we can still enjoy the day and admire the passing of seasons.
Groundhog Day appears to have made its way to America with immigrants from England and Germany, where Christians recognized Candlemas – the midpoint between winter and spring. These sayings give credence: “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight. But if it be dark with clouds and rain, winter is gone and will not come again.” (Old English)
“A shepherd would rather a wolf enter a stable than a badger watch for a shadow in sunshine.” (German)
There was a 70% chance of rain on Tuesday of this week. Umbrellas eagerly awaited its arrival (as did Jim Chase, I imagine), the winds began to blow, and the first drops fell. Yes! The storm had arrived … and a few more drops … the storm left.
So goes the rainy season, thus far.
Warmer temperatures into the weekend and cooler ones to start the week are forecast, as offshore and onshore winds continue to dominate the weather. No umbrellas needed for at least 10 days.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and Official Skywarn Spotter for the National Weather Service.
Reach her at