A winter wonderland

Stepping out into the back yard I was greeted by a winter wonderland Friday morning. This doesn’t look like early spring but maybe that will come next week.

A week ago Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring. That very morning many of us awoke to a snowstorm, which thankfully was gone by afternoon.

Sunday morning, however, made me wonder if we’d truly have an early spring. Leaving church to step back into a picturesque winter scene, I asked a couple of church members, “Don’t you want to just break out into Christmas carols?” They gave me a very definite no but looking at the white snow covering the ground and decorating every tree and shrub just made me think of a white Christmas like we used to have when I was growing up.

Over the years, most older adults agree that the winters we have now are nowhere near what they were like several decades ago. Snow would arrive at the end of October or early November and stay until April. We’d have snow high enough to build forts and have snowball battles, make several snowmen, go sledding and make snow angels. Back in the 1960s and 70s most youngsters asked for or were surprised with a sled for Christmas. I can’t remember the last time I heard a child say they wanted a sled for Christmas. Today it is more an electronic device such as an iPad or tablet or cell phone than a sled to ride the hills of snow in the neighborhood.

Looking back on this week, temperatures did warm somewhat and the possibility of an early spring grew a little more likely – at least for a few days. However, most of the usual weather forecasting resources such as AccuWeather and the almanac didn’t quite agree with Phil’s prediction.

AccuWeather noted that the prediction last year was a little premature and that a winter storm could still arrive in March; it’s spring 2020 forecast has its meteorologists downright disagreeing with Phil on his prediction. While the Spring Equinox, which heralds the beginning of the spring season, is Thursday, March 19, AccuWeather’s forecast is for winter to “drag on across much of the United States, possibly even beyond the official beginning of spring.”

In the Northeast, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley region, namely us, AccuWeather’s forecast says spring “will seemingly get off to a late start this year as winter weather stretches into late March.” It then quotes its expert long-range meteorologist Paul Pastelok as saying, “It looks to me like cold and snow combined could linger this year before we see a break by mid-spring.”

That certainly doesn’t sound like an “early spring” in my book.

Even the almanac is at odds with Phil’s prediction. The Almanac for 2020 says that spring is expected “to be slow getting started with winter lingering from the Midwest to New England.” It even calls for some occasional wet snow and unseasonably chilly conditions, possibly even until April.

Until April? But the first day of spring is in mid March.

The Weather Channel at least says temperatures will “improve in March,” which shows near or slightly above average temperatures for our region of Pennsylvania, however, February is to be “average or slightly below average temperatures.” Not an early spring but at least better than waiting until April.

Wednesday’s freezing rain and Friday’s snowstorm certainly seems more in line with what the Almanac and other weather forecasters have predicted for February.

While I won’t discount the magic of Punxsutawney Phil, I’m just not sure who has more clout when it comes to predicting the weather – Phil, Old Man Winter or Mother Nature. I’m rooting for Phil to be right about an early spring but it may take Mother Nature stepping in between Phil and Old Man Winter to make it so.

For now, I think I’m just going to take it one day at a time but I really, really don’t want flurries in April, just saying . . . it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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