The most famous groundhog in the world did not see his shadow Wednesday morning, Groundhog Day, as perhaps one of the most odd spring rites known to man continued in Punxsutawney, Penn.. Phil, a well-kept and pampered groundhog, had his day in the sun, so to speak, and forecast an early end to winter weather.
At the same time, a massive storm front moved across the Midwest and into the Northeast, dumping huge amounts of snow on top of the enormous amount of snow lingering from the last massive stormfront that passed through. As people in the Plains states and the Midwest were digging themselves out of multiple inches of snow and the Northeast prepared for a direct stormfront hit, Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction fell on unamused ears worried about just getting through what was left of a challenging winter.
Six weeks of winter weather can be an extremely long time for people who have been fighting an already long and cold winter already.
As strange luck would have it, Phil and western Pennsylvanians don’t seem to have much to worry about (at present) with the current weather system moving through. According to the Weather Channel, the region recorded higher temperatures than in the surrounding areas and forecasts only saw an accumulation of up to four inches of snow through Tuesday. Lingering snow could dump as much as 6 inches of snow in Ohio and Illinois but as much as 10 inches in Michigan and around the Great Lakes. Accumulations are forecast to reach up to 2 feet in many areas of the Midwest, including Chicago.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, recorded its highest single-day accumulation ever. The Tulsa World reported that 14 inches of snow fell in a 24-hour period that began on Feb. 1 and ended in the wee hours of Groundhog Day. The old record, 12.9 inches, had been recorded in 1994.
Western Oklahoma recorded its lowest temperature ever — 36 degrees, according to USA Today. The paper also noted that Oklahoma City received 11 inches of snow in 12 hours, more than the city usually sees in an entire year.
Temperatures in Dallas fell to lows the city hasn’t seen in 15 years.
As of Tuesday, only six Southern states were completely without snow within the contiguous United States. Of those six, even Florida has been hit with a harsher winter than usual, with cities as far south as Miami recording their lowest temperatures on record in December.
But off to the East, from western New York, eastern Pennsylvania, and the Northeast corridor, predictions ranged from 8 to 18 inches of snow. When added to the snowfall from Monday, parts of New York and New England could find itself under up to two feet of snow by storm’s end. New York City is set to break its accumulation record of 75.6 inches, which occurred in the winter of 1995-96. At present, the city has seen an accumulation of 56.1 inches. To place these record snowfalls in perspective, the city’s average is only 11.1 inches per winter season.
Before it is over, record and near-record temperatures and snowfalls are forecast all along the upper northern tier of states. Winter weather advisories have become the rule. Besides causing untold logistics and infrastructural problems throughout the affected areas of the country, the effects on travel have been extensive as well, causing 6,000 airline flight cancellations Tuesday, according to Sky News.
For the record, the New York Daily News noted that New York’s Staten Island Chuck, one of Punxsutawney Phil’s many copyhogs, was in agreement with the Pennsylvania weather prognosticating rodent. Little good the Groundhog Day prediction will do the woodchuck as he and his handlers find shelter from the two feet of snow headed his way.
“Groundhog Day 2011,” PACast.com
Kevin Roth, “Monster storm blasts Northeast before exiting,” Weather.com
Doyle Rice, “Records fall along with snow, temperature,” USAToday.com