Phil, as most Americans know, is the legendary groundhog from Punxsutawney, PA, who comes out of his hole on February 2 and predicts whether or not winter will continue. The tradition says that if Phil sees his shadow, there will be at least six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, then spring is just around the corner.
Two weeks ago, Phil popped out of his hole, saw his shadow, and immediately scurried back into his domicile. Boom, just like that, six more weeks of winter, and we’re certainly seeing that play out right now. Since Groundhog Day, the region has been blanketed with substantially more than three feet of snow.
Of course, for those who are winter sports enthusiasts, or make their living off of winter sports enthusiasts, all of this snow has been a blessing. Last year was one of the worst winters in memory, in terms of snowfall. This year has seen plenty of snow and seasonable weather.
In fact, conditions couldn’t be more perfect for the Presidents Day holiday week. There’s plenty of snow for skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing or whatever winter sport one participates in. On top of that, temperatures have been cold but not unbearably so. Just cold enough to keep the white stuff from melting any time soon.
Long range forecasts are also backing up Phil’s prophecy. Weather prognosticators are calling for seasonable weather right through the rest of the month and into March, which means temperatures in the 20s and low 30s during the day and colder at night, with the occasional snowstorm thrown in for good measure. Given how much of the local economy depends on snow, we can only see the snow as a positive development. Of course, it is also an inconvenience to many, and we understand that as well. But, we will take a winter with snow over a winter without it 99.99% of the time. Snow just makes winter in Vermont that much better.
The current Punxsutawney Phil, of course, continues a forecasting tradition more than a century old, made even more famous by the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day.” Despite all his notoriety, Phil does have competitors, and some made predictions completely opposite from Phil’s.
A quick internet search revealed a number of pretenders to Phil’s prognosticating preeminence, including Staten Island Chuck and General Beauregard Lee.
Chuck, a resident of the Staten Island Zoo, who is known formally as Charles G. Hogg and is notorious for biting former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, wrongly predicted that spring was just around the corner. General Lee, a whistlepig who blogs from a game ranch in Georgia, not only wrongly foresaw an early spring, but also predicted the Atlanta Falcons would win the Super Bowl by beating the New England Patriots 42-21. We all know how that turned out.
So much for the pretenders.
Phil had it right, at least for those of us here in the Deerfield Valley. We are thankful to the groundhog, the Pacific weather patterns, the jet stream or whatever factors have provided Vermont with a substantial bounty of winter whiteness.
Following a sparse and warm winter like 2016, the last thing we needed was a cloudy day on February 2, 2017. No, the sun was bright, the shadow was a fright, the rodent predicted an extended winter, and we’re all reaping the rewards of that.