Traditionally, if the Groundhog sees his shadow when he comes out of his burrow on February 2nd, it means that the day is sunny and warm, and the opposite will be true for the remaining weeks of winter. However, if he does not see his shadow due to a cloudy, dreary day, then spring weather is just around the corner!
As naturalists, we are looking forward to seeing the leaves bud, the flowers bloom, and the birds migrate through our area headed south. We’ll be sad to see our over-wintering species leave.
Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog of Philadelphia, predicted six more weeks of winter weather for 2021. If we had a groundhog here in East Texas, I imagine he would have predicted the same thing, given that it was a sunny, but chilly, day outside.
To learn more about Groundhog Day and how it came to be, see the Farmer’s Almanac website at this link:
What does this mean for us? Well, don’t put away your warm wool socks and winter coats just yet. You’ll still need them for hiking, nature trips, and volunteer work days. Check the weather for those warm spells in between cold fronts when planning a trip. Hold off on spreading those wildflower seeds for pollinators… premature sprouting due to a false-spring could result in less wildflower plant survival. Likewise, you many want to hold off on the transplants as well, even though they are already for sale in the local stores. There may be some cold weather plants that are better suited to planting this month, like lettuce, kale, or broccoli for those who like vegetable gardening.
Don’t underestimate the value of “weeds” during this time. I know we hate seeing them in our flower beds and vegetable/herb gardens, but for pollinators during this time of year, they are a critical source of nectar. We are nearing the end of winter, when food stores begin to run out. I have already seen insects on the small, prolific, and very broadly scattered weed flowers this week. They offer an extensive nectar availability. After all, they grow practically everywhere! On a walk along Sandy Creek Park – the city park of Jasper, TX – I observed dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), wild violets (Viola spp.), Bird’s Eye Speedwell (Veronica persica), Indian Strawberry (Potentilla indica), Largeflower Woodsorrel (Oxalis debilis), Henbit Deadnettle (Lamium aplexicaule), and White clover (Trifolium repens). I even observed a honeybee on a dandelion.
To get back to the original question, “When will it warm up outside?”, the Farmer’s Almanac long range weather forecasts predict a pretty mild February and a rainy/stormy March. For those who live in east Texas, this sounds like a general description for normal conditions in this area for this time of year. Well, they weren’t wrong… So basically, I don’t expect a late season freeze. But this is Texas weather we’re talking about, so who knows!
To see more details on the Farmer’s Almanac’s long range weather predicitions, see this link: