Sorry Cecil, but not only don’t the folks in L.A. not get it, I afraid that you’ve taken a trip to lala land yourself on this one. Whether of not a groundhog sees its shadow on Feb.2nd is totally immaterial, as is the weather of the day. There’ll be about 6 more weeks of winter regardless as 6 weeks (and a few days) from February 2nd is March 20th…the first day of spring. I hate it when I have to explain old jokes to another old guy.
Also, I disagree with there being 6 more weeks of winter because the first day of spring is March 20/21; looking at average temperatures, on December 21, the average is 33 degrees, while on March 20 it is 48 degrees - a full 15 degrees warmer. Now, shouldn’t winter be the coldest 3 months of the year? Then the dates would be November 29-February 27 (average 40 degrees; coldest period is December 26-January 28 with an average of 32, so December 21 can be more accurately defined as the start of the coldest month of the winter). Or just go with the meteorological definition, used for weather records - December-February.
There are a variety of ways to define seasons: astronomical, meteorological, convenience. Is it by amount of sunlight, weather temps, or rough approximations of the two of those to divide the calendar into four equal segments? What about “school in session/school out of session”? Pick your definition, then we can decide if we agree on the answer.
It’s wrong because the actual seasons do not actually follow the solar quarters of the tropical year. Why do you think "Midsummer’s Day” (in Europe) is in June, near or on the solstice? Using the equinoxes and solstices to delimit the seasons is nothing but a sop to the “tl;dr” crowd, who were already around long before the Internet was invented.
Because many Astronomers *don’t *associate the equinox/solstices with changes of seasons. One of the earliest Bad Astronomer’s blog posts was about this. The association is very recent and quite unscientific. No one a hundred years ago, Astronomer or otherwise, would have thought summer in the northern hemisphere started in late June.
Now, back the question in the OP. Weather is cyclic, especially in winter. A period of bad weather. A period of good weather. If it’s good weather now, bad weather will soon move in. “Now” can be any arbitrary point. E.g., Candlemas Day. But note that starting in February, weather overall is getting better, so that there is less time for really bad cycles of weather. You might have at most one more really bad cycle before spring comes, depending on latitude, etc.
So good weather now might have seen to have correlated well with there definitely being one more bad wave of winter weather.
Whether 6 weeks is an apt length for a weather cycle is a whole separate issue.
This article was re-posted today (of course; it’s February), and I thought much the same as **foolsguinea **here. I theorized that if it was just pessimism, then, more often than not, Punxsutawney Phil would see his shadow. Heck, if the pessimism was handed down with the tradition, it wouldn’t even approach a 50/50 split; it would be three out of four times, or maybe even four out of five.
Looking at the almanac(scroll down): seems about right. In a hundred years (1900 - 2000), Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow 87 times. Interestingly, the one time they couldn’t find Phil (in 1943), they assumed that meant no shadow, rather than following the tradition of pessimism.
Also, the weather seems to matter not at all. Even with cloudy skies or fog, Punxsutawney Phil has very sharp eyes that can see even the hint of a shadow.
Groundhog Day, formerly known as Candlemass Day, was historically thought to mark the halfway point of winter. For much of the temperate zone, winter is three months long, more or less. This means that, on average, spring will come in about six weeks whether or not Phil sees his damned shadow.The provident farmer on Candlemass Day, Has half of his fires and half of his hay.
That is, if you still have half your food and half your fuel left, you should be able to make it through the winter comfortably.