More winter or early spring? The forecasts are in.

Another February 2nd has arrived and once again, the spotlight is squarely on the shadows of groundhogs nationwide.

For years I've wondered. What's so magical about a groundhog's shadow? What kind of forecasting powers do these furry little rodents possess that I don't? I sent Mallory Nicholls in search of the truth and her findings found what faulty forecasters groundhogs really are! The pride of Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil, and General Beauregard Lee of Atlanta, GA. were accurate less than 40% of the time. If my accuracy was that poor, I'd find a hole, jump in and never come out. Truth is, you're better off expecting the opposite of what these groundhogs predict. Maybe Phil and Lee purposely lie. Can you blame them? How annoyed would you be if you were dragged from a warm, cozy den half asleep, into the bitter cold for everyone to see? Of course, we know the yearly ritual is all in good fun and rooted in folklore originating in the 1800's. A few years back, I decided to join the fun and make my own rest-of-the-winter forecast and see how it compared. I'll admit, I was a bit apprehensive. What if their forecasts ended up better than mine? How would I endure the relentless heckling? I didn't want to be know as THAT guy with forecast skills poorer than a woodchuck!

I'm proud to say that my forecast on Groundhog day last winter was right on the money. We did have 6 more weeks of winter with below average temperatures and even a big snow February 12-13. Phil was right on the money too while General Lee's prediction of an early spring was far off the mark. Record: Me 1-0, Phil 1-0, Lee 0-1.

Fast forward to Groundhog Day 2011...the pressure is on again. Six more weeks of winter or is an early spring around the corner? After tireless research and analysis (at least on my part) here's our predictions:

  • * Punxsutawney Phil: Did NOT see his shadow so expect an early spring
  • * General Beauregard Lee: Did NOT see his shadow so expect an early spring.
  • * Look Ahead Ed: Walked outside the WPDE studios and saw my shadow so expect six more weeks of winter.

Here's where I separate the men from the hogs. I believe the next 6 weeks will average slightly below normal, but not nearly as cold as December and January. The upper air pattern that kept it so cold for so long in December and January has broken down. While we'll get occasional intrusions of cold air, I don't think the intense cold sticks around nearly as long. I also expect more days in the 60's and perhaps 70's compared to the numbers we saw in December and January. Chances of snow? Not as nearly as good as they were in December and January, but I still think we'll have one more storm that produces snow in our viewing area.

Win, lose or draw, tune in March 16th to see how I did!