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Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil Saw His Shadow

If the legend holds, there will be six more weeks of winter. Will we in the Pacific Northwest be able to tell the difference?

It’s official, sort of: We'll get six more weeks of winter. Punxsutawney Phil crawled out of his burrow and saw his shadow. As the legend goes, we will have six more weeks of winter, which brings us roughly to the second week of March.

Chicago meteorologist Tim McGill called into question the accuracy of the weasel weather forecasting tradition. “Punxsutawney Phil is a punk when it comes to weather forecasting,” he wrote in his weather blog, citing a Penn State professor who says that the groundhog has only been accurate 39 percent of the time.

But that’s Chicago, this is the Northwest, and here in the Puget Sound lowlands, spring usually means warmer temperatures and lots of rain. The warmer air means that if you’re lucky enough to live near a pond,  and wake you up in the morning. It also means the weeds will be vigorously popping up through the sodden earth.

Groundhogs aside, this year we are experiencing a La Nina winter, typically characterized by wetter winters (although this time, it’s been drier than normal—see Cliff Mass’s explanation here). “Seattle winter really ends in the beginning of March...greatly reduced chances of major windstorms, floods, snowstorms,” Mass wrote on his blog.

So punk or predictor, here in Western Washington we don’t need Punxsutawney Phil telling us what the next six weeks of weather will be; it’ll be mostly raining and overcast with sun breaks.

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