Punxsutawney Phil: hope you’re satisfied

Published 9:40 am Tuesday, March 25, 2014

For one fleeting moment I teetered on the edge of joining my lifelong friend, Gattis Hodges of Woodland, on his planned trip to Pennsylvania to shoot that annoying little critter – Punxsutawney Phil.

In hindsight, Gatmo and I should have made that road trip on Feb. 2 as furry Phil saw his shadow that morning and scampered back into his warm, cozy burrow….thus dooming us to six more weeks of winter.

What we didn’t know at that time was his six-week prediction was sent into overtime.

Even though the calendar said spring officially arrived this past Thursday (March 20), it seems as though it can’t fight off Old Man Winter’s final flurry of punches. Today’s (Tuesday) forecast was calling for us to perhaps see a brief period of light snow or sleet before the temps rise enough for the weather system to drench us with rain.

Even if the white stuff fails to fall from the late March sky, it will be cold with temps into the mid 20’s Tuesday night thanks to another in a long series of arctic fronts diving across our area of the state.

That weather system will be accompanied by strong winds. Gusts have the potential to reach 40 mph along our coast Tuesday night. Be prepared for a cold start to your Wednesday as the wind chill could be in the teens by the time you leave for work or school. Gee, that sounds familiar.

This is just the latest bout with what has been a rough winter by northeastern North Carolina standards. We’ve already witnessed two fairly significant snow storms earlier this year, one reaching close to nine inches in some parts of our area.

Local schoolchildren were granted several days off and were able to frolic in the snow as classes were canceled on more than one occasion while poor stiffs like you and I had to slip and slide to work (and back home again).

For those of us who believe in the Old Farmer’s Almanac, we should have seen this winter as a bad one after back-to-back mild seasons.

The Almanac, first published in 1792 during the initial term of George Washington, has always watched the weather. Their famous long-range weather forecasts are traditionally 80 percent–accurate, according to their website.

They were pretty accurate for the winter of 2013-14. Last year they predicted a frigid winter with bitter cold and heavy snow. The majority of states in the northeast and upper Midwest set all kinds of records this year….one of the snowiest and coldest on record. There were many days where the high temp failed to reach zero and it wasn’t uncommon for a single storm system to bring them over two feet of snow.

The 2014 Old Farmer’s Almanac called it, saying that a decline in solar activity combined with ocean-atmosphere patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic will result in below-normal temperatures and above-normal snowfall during most of the winter across much of the United States.

Now with spring finally here – and perhaps with the cantankerous Punxsutawney Phil satisfied that winter is over – let’s hope that things will return to normal. The forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 47 on Wednesday; and sunny and 56 on Thursday. There’s a chance of showers on Friday and Saturday….but still warm with highs both days in the upper 60’s.

I’ll take that over snow and 25 degrees any day of the week.

Punxsutawney Phil…you’re lucky to be alive.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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