Of Prognosticators and Weather: A Short Post About....
by Brandon Hunt
Yeah, you read it right. Six more weeks of winter.
At least those are the official predictions of several groundhogs (and one lobster) on this second day of February. I guess the only way to truly know is to wait it out.
Groundhog Day is a quirky holiday. Not big enough to warrant a day off from work (sadly), but has enough popularity — due to a certain Bill Murray film of the same title — that thousands of people celebrate the day in their own ways.
As for myself, I try to watch Groundhog Day each year. It’s my own way of honoring the spirit of the celebration. Though, I have long desired to attend the Punxsutawney celebration in person, just to have that experience.
I suppose I could go on about Groundhog Day, of how the Pennsylvania-Dutch adapted their custom of Candlemas, or when the first ever Groundhog Day was created — but I won’t go through that here, I have something else in mind. However, if you are interested in the history of the holiday, follow this link.
Anyway, the nature of the holiday got me thinking a little bit about predictions and weather.
They put on a good dog-and-pony show, or would that be a groundhog-and-pony show? The groundhog comes out of the den and “speaks” to an official, who then translates the rodent language, and tells us if the groundhog saw his shadow.
Nothing to it, right? Regardless, it’s all for fun.
Or is there something more we can learn from Groundhog Day?
Wait? What? You Want to Predict the Weather?
You too can become a prognosticator (I just like the sound of that word. You should say it too). And you don’t need fur or prominent upper teeth to make weather predictions.
What you do need, if you want to make predictions, is data. Really, that’s what meteorologists use. You may not have access to all the fancy equipment to tell you what to expect, rather you have other tools.
Mainly you have your experience and familiarity with the region in which you live. With those you can reliably predict what possible emergencies you need to prepare for.
For example, I love to backpack in the Uinta Mountains in Eastern Utah. I've been going there since my first trip with my dad when I was five. Based upon all of my years of experience with that region, I know I should always pack rain gear. The weather changes fast and unpredictably in those mountains. No matter what, I plan for bad weather whenever I hike in those mountains.
You can do the same thing for your region. If you have lived in a place for years, you should know what to expect, what possible disasters could occur. Use your knowledge and experience to predict, plan and prepare. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be prepared.
Old School Weather Prognosticators
Before the advent of weather prediction technology, there were those who were proficient at reading nature to foretell the seasons and weather.
For the majority of people those skills have vanished. But there are some who keep such methods alive. One such person preserving those methods of reading nature and weather is Tristan Gooley. He has a few books that can help you start that fascinating journey.
I plan to write some future posts based on Tristan Gooley’s books. The ability to read nature and predict weather or find your way, is fascinating, at least to me. Plus it’s knowledge you can use for emergencies or if you like to go camping.
A Closing Prediction
What I like about Groundhog Day is that it harkens back to the past, it’s a prime example of using nature to foretell the end of winter. In a small way we are holding on to a tradition handed down from a time when people lived closer to the land.
Though it’s a small holiday, Groundhog Day has some charm and fun to it, while also reminding us how much we are connected, and affected, by the weather and seasons.
Anyway, I felt the need to write a short post in honor of the holiday. Though we might not be present to partake in a full day of festivities at Gobbler’s Knob (Punxsutawney, PA), you can kick back tonight with a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the classic Groundhog Day movie. Enjoy.