Groundhog Day prediction may have been right about added weeks of winter

This is the B.C. coast - where are the hints of spring we are used to in early March?

I’ve never put much stock in the “predictions” of six more weeks of winter, based on whether or not a groundhog in Ontario or Pennsylvania sees his or her shadow.

However, maybe those little creatures are right (at least for this year). Winter is holding on with a vengeance, not just in the B.C. Lower Mainland but in most other parts of North America. Cold, snow, ice and blizzards in the most unlikely places, such as Georgia and North Carolina, continue.

Here in Langley, we have had two weekends in a row with snow, after months of our more usual green winter. Temperatures have also been cool for much of 2014, and there has been less rain than usual, which was most welcome.

But with snow in late February and early March, spring is definitely on hold for the moment. Daffodils will not be bursting into flower anytime soon.

How many people are actually thinking about cutting their lawns? Not many, I suspect. Yet many Langley residents often give their lawns the first cutting of the year in mid-March. Perhaps the weather will improve and they will get that chance, but at this juncture, that seems unlikely.

This Saturday night, we will make the switch to daylight saving time, to allow for more evening light. Yet will that extra hour of daylight in the evening hours be used for outdoor activities if the snow returns, or if temperatures remain low?

We in B.C. are pretty spoiled when it comes to weather, especially when compared with the rest of the country. Our winters are shorter and much milder than what is experienced on the Prairies and in Eastern Canada. But we still live a long ways north of the equator, and we get much of our weather from the Pacific Ocean, including the North Pacific, where it is very cold. We should not be surprised when we get extended cold weather or occasional snowfalls.

Yet such weather is much more acceptable in December and January than it is in March. We want to have warmer temperatures, to see flowers starting to come out and to have the anticipation of warmer weather for months to come. Thus far, that is not happening.

While some people say the cold weather that has taken place across much of North America puts the lie to any claims about global warming, I’m not sure I would go that far. At the same time, I’m not sure that any scientific model can correctly predict what future temperatures will be. History shows us that there are ebbs and flows in climate, and there are also long-term trends towards warming and cooling which have happened on numerous occasions in the past.

No matter what you think about global warming or the lack thereof, we do need to be concerned about carbon emissions, if only because too much carbon dioxide has been shown to have a damaging effect on the upper atmosphere.

One thing is for sure. Groundhog Day predictions of six more weeks of winter proved to be uncannily accurate this year — even here in balmy B.C.

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